Pop-Up Ask Us Kiosk

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Librarians want NC State students to Ask Us...about anything! But what would happen if we promoted useful, interesting topics to ask us about in a different place than usual? Would they drop by to talk with us? A small team of library staff set out to find out....and the answer was YES!

How it Got Started

As librarians in Research and Information Services (RIS), we work with students mostly through providing support at the Learning Commons desk or during classroom library instruction workshops. Thinking that there might be an opportunity for another kind of teachable moment -- somewhere between the urgency of helping someone with a project at the Learning Commons desk and the expansiveness of a 50-minute classroom session -- several librarians in RIS decided to test out a “pop-up” library instruction kiosk in the lobby of D.H. Hill Library.

What Happened

We chose our topics (“Be a Google Scholar Power User!” and “Get Books and Articles from Across the Universe with Tripsaver!”) for their appeal -- they would need to be interesting enough to draw in a passing audience -- and for their ability to be successfully conveyed in just a few minutes. We also had to consider how to draw in that busy, passing audience. Feeling that e-boards were a bit too “slick” and so common that they might have become invisible to some library users, we decided a colorful and whimsical hand-drawn sign on a rolling white board might jump out at students. A bowl of candy served as a secondary lure. Then, on two days during a week in mid-November, we rolled our whiteboard, a table, a laptop, and an e-board out to the DH Hill Library lobby and waited for people to stop. And they did! During our three 1.5 hour encampments, 44 passers by stopped to hear our 5 minute spiels on Google Scholar and Tripsaver (interlibrary loan service)


During our experiment, staff at our pop-up Ask Us kiosk answered almost three times as many questions as the staff at the Learning Commons desk during the same hours. We decided this was a definite success and plan to move forward with more pop-up stop-and-learn opportunities!

Written on July 14, 2014