Winners of 2nd Annual First Year Experience (FYE) Innovation Awards Take Gamification, Collaboration, and Orientation to the Next Level

Credo Reference has announced that Bryant Moore, first-year experience librarian at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, and Xavier University’s McDonald Library have won the second annual FYE Innovation Awards. Recognizing outstanding achievements in first-year experience programming, the awards are sponsored by Credo Reference and Case Western Reserve University’s Kelvin Smith Library.

Credo partnered with the Kelvin Smith Library last year to launch the awards in an effort to call attention to the enterprising work being done by librarians who support first-year students. Strong FYE initiatives have been shown to increase student persistence, GPA levels, and graduation rates, and libraries are uniquely positioned as a resource for students arriving on campus as they acclimate to the rigors of academic life. The FYE Innovation Awards are a way to laud leaders in the field and share inspiration to libraries of all types as they develop their own programs.

“This year’s winners demonstrated real ingenuity in boosting incoming students’ information literacy skills during their critical first months on campus,” said Credo General Manager Ian Singer. “They found ways to take an effective personalized approach, and then scale it to reach a significant number of first-year students attending their institutions.”

Bryant Moore distinguished himself through his use of fun and interactive programming to help students overcome their library anxiety while learning valuable research and information literacy skills. From playing Library Jeopardy during instruction sessions to inserting a secret challenge into the library’s online information literacy tutorial, Moore has made student engagement and outreach a priority. Taking advantage of the excitement and buy-in such strategies yield, he’s outfitted his students with the tools necessary to start their academic careers on the right foot. When surveyed in 2017, over 300 students listed Moore’s instruction and scavenger hunts as the most beneficial session to their first semester, leading the institution to make the scavenger hunt mandatory for all incoming students this year. 

Librarians from Xavier’s McDonald Library developed a 3-credit First-Year Seminar course, in which students researched the institution’s history through primary sources. Building stronger relationships with the institution are often listed among the desired outcomes of FYE initiatives, and this course helps do exactly that while also honing student research skills. Xavier also launched an annual research award for first-year students, complete with monetary prizes. Such programs have resulted in increased awareness of the value the institution places on strong library skills, and has resulted in improved collaborative efforts between faculty and librarians.

“The librarians and libraries that were nominated showed holistic and strongly effective integration into various aspects of student life,” remarked Brian Gray, Team Leader Research Services of the Kelvin Smith Library at Case Western Reserve University. “The passion for student success radiated from each nomination.”

Every year, judges selected by Credo and the Kelvin Smith library recognize one library and one librarian to receive a prize of $1,500 and an award plaque honoring their outstanding achievement. This year’s ceremony will take place at the 2019 Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Conference in Cleveland, OH. Subsequent awards will be presented at the Personal Librarian & FYE Library Conference and ACRL, which occur on alternating years.

Credo views the FYE space as the most important engagement and instruction areas in academic librarianship. In order to support librarians navigating this quickly growing and critical space, Credo has put together an interactive guide for libraries involved in the FYE. Whether building an FYE strategy from the ground up or looking to improve upon existing programs, librarians will find valuable information within the Credo FYE Guide to put into practice. Libraries who have already implemented activities or taken inspiration from the guide are invited to enter the FYE Guide Activity Contest.

As institutions of higher education become increasingly reliant on the skills librarians are most well-equipped to teach (information literacy, research, critical thinking, et cetera), Credo has worked to develop platforms and tools that support instruction in the classroom, online, and anywhere in between. Learn more about Credo Online Reference Service, the one-stop exploratory research platform that drives usage of all trusted library resources, and Credo’s Learning Tools, which include videos, tutorials, and assessment instruments for libraries, whether launching a new information literacy initiative or looking to build upon existing programming.