Lilac and ‘pointless’ library inductions


This session caught my eye in the Lilac parallel sessions programme.

‘Is library induction pointless?’  Julie Moody

The session was very well attended, so I wasn’t the only one.

Julie had used the TV ‘Pointless’ quiz format in her Library inductions sessions. She did this to engage the students but also because in her experience students were not remembering many of the key things they had been told in their induction sessions.

Julie stressed that the Pointless quiz formed part of the face to face library induction session. It was not a replacement for inductions. The time allocated for the whole face to face session was half an hour and with the quiz taking approximately ten minutes. Julie’s information literacy sessions are also supported by online tutorials and drop-in support, which she wished to bring to the attention of students during the quiz.


The library also provides Library bite size sessions (lost in the library get that book) approx. two weeks after the start of the academic year. Another idea which I liked and time allowing, would like to introduce to my students, this coming academic year.


The quiz structure and format.

Unlike the TV series it is played in teams with one person  acting as spokesperson. One minute to discuss the answer in teams and give answer  to the  spokesperson.

Remember that obvious answers mean nothing: the aim is to get the lowest possible score, preferably a correct answer that none of the 100 people asked gave.

There were three rounds but unlike TV show teams were not eliminated at the end of each round, instead  waited to end and the lowest scoring team is the winner.

Round one famous people in library and computing world.

Round two – know your services pictures and images of lib search, Moodle, etc. so when finished quiz they went back over each picture informing students the correct result and background if relevant.

Round three Dewey nos and their anagrams (My favourite – how to make Dewey fun!!)

Julie said that the questions were not ‘set in stone’ many of the subject librarians changed the questions and rounds to suit their own subjects.

 In her experience the only negative responses were if the group was very quiet.

It appeared the quiz format worked best and the liveliest sessions were in the large lecture theatres! Great, ‘cos I’m always looking for  ways to make these sessions more lively. Honestly, trying to get interaction and engagement from 250 students packed into the Great Hall for their first day is not easy.

Student feedback  was that most had  remembered how to access the online tutorials, one of the main objective in creating the session.

Next steps. They will be creating a new library film for the start of the next academic year. Julie may base  some of the quiz questions on what the students hear in the film – so reinforcing information given there. Ah ha, not wishing to give too much away but I see how this could work for us in lots of different ways. 

In the past we have done ‘quizzes’ to test knowledge and engage students but these have always followed library induction sessions. I really liked the idea that we can incorporate them within the session itself and er, make them FUN, appealing to the competitive nature of our students.

Library inductions are far from ‘pointless’ but we knew that all along.

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