Instruction Support Services

NCSU Libraries Mobile Scavenger Hunt


The NCSU Libraries Mobile Scavenger Hunt is an interactive, technology-rich way to introduce students to the library. Developed in response to student and instructor feedback collected in 2010-2011, it leverages the motivating power of situated learning and the fun of team game dynamics to orient students to the Libraries’ spaces, promote the use of emerging technologies, and foster confidence in using the Libraries’ collections. The activity is run using iPod Touches and several free apps and online tools.


  • Anne Burke, Research & Information Services
  • Adam Rogers, User Experience
  • Adrienne Lai, NCSU Libraries Fellow

Technical Details

The NCSU Libraries Mobile Scavenger Hunt is designed to allow maximum mobility of student teams as they explore the library, while the librarian hosting the hunt keeps score in real time from a central location. Each team is supplied with a clue sheet with 15 questions about the library and its services, a map of the library, and an iPod Touch for submitting clue answers. Students are given a brief introduction to the activity and its rules, as well as basic instruction in use of the iPod and relevant apps, before being sent off to answer their clues. Teams are allowed 25 minutes to explore the libraries and answer the questions before returning to the starting location to review correct answers, learn which team won, and receive prizes.

The teams' iPod Touches are logged into a Gmail account, which the teams use to submit text- and photo-based answers to the clues. Scorekeeping is performed using a Google Spreadsheet, which is configured with the expected answers for each question. As teams submit their answers, the librarian is able to mark which questions were answered correctly by modifying the corresponding spreadsheet cells. Scores are tabulated automatically based on which questions are marked correct.

Project Links


2012 Association of College and Research Libraries College Libraries Section ProQuest Innovation in College Librarianship Award, honoring ALA member(s) who have "demonstrated a capacity for innovation in their work with undergraduates, instructors and/or the library community."

Reports and Presentations

Lai, A. and Rogers, A. (2012). "Mobile learning, game dynamics: engaging library orientation." Webcast session, Handheld Librarian Online Conference VI, online conference, February 1-2, 2012.

Burke, A., Lai, A., and Rogers, A. (2012). "Mobile devices, situated learning and game dynamics: tools for a more engaging library orientation." Concurrent session, Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, February 10-12, 2012.

Rogers, A., Lai, A., and Burke, A. (2012). "iPod apps, mobile learning, game dynamics: a more playful library orientation." Part of the "Playful interventions: libraries, college access, after school and media arts" short talk panel, 2012 Digital Media and Learning Conference, San Francisco, California, March 1-3, 2012.

Lai, A. and Burke, A. (2012). "iPods, games & mobile: engaging library orientation." Lightning talk, 2012 LAUNC-CH Annual Conference, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, March 5, 2012.

Burke, A. and Lai, A. (2012). "iPod apps, mobile learning, game dynamics: this ain't your typical library orientation." LOEX 2012, Columbus, Ohio, May 4, 2012.

Lai, A., and Rogers, A. (2012). "Building and sustaining a mobile, game-based library orientation." Part of the "Focusing on students" breakout session, TRLN Annual Meeting 2012, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, July 13, 2012.

Burke, A. (2012). "NCSU Libraries Mobile Scavenger Hunt." LITA Mobile Computing Interest Group, ALA Annual Conference 2012, Anaheim, California, June 24, 2012.