With amazing speed, the new academic year is just around the corner. Students are camped below us building their float for the Rag and Flag, and orientation activities for exchange students and postgraduate students have already begun.
I always look to the orientation period with a mix of excitement and trepidation. New students pour in, full of questions, and we do our best to answer those. The sheer number of students can be overwhelming sometimes, but it is also invigorating to have the energy of youthful exuberance filling the library.
Attending the different orientation sessions gives me an insight on what priorities the students have. While waiting for my turn to present to students on library resources, I sit quietly in the front rows and listen to the conversations taking place behind me. Exchange students get excited about the travel opportunities available to them from Singapore; MBA students network with each other with a cheerful aggression. Singapore, being a major travel nexus for the Asia-Pacific region, attracts students from many countries and all walks of life.
I enjoy giving orientation presentations, as I am able to observe and meet new students. I always hope to show the best face of the library to them, to impress them with what we can offer, and also impress upon them the importance of appropriate behavior when using the library and its resources. Sometimes I wonder if I’m spitting in the wind, so to speak – do my efforts go largely unnoticed because the students are already overwhelmed by matriculation, registration for modules and a myriad of other things to learn?
However, sometime later in the term, emails may arrive from students who picked up my address from the presentations, or call to find out more about the databases we have listed in the handouts we prepared, and I very happily help them learn how to get what they want out of the library.
Words of thanks are of course very welcome and I appreciate them; but what pleases me most is watching a student walk away with a bit more knowledge, and a little more skill at locating what they need.