Murder in the Library: A Library Induction Game

The gamification of learning in libraries (and the education sector in general) has been rather a hot topic for a while now. There’s a growing group of library people who are using game-based learning to engage students in library inductions and information literacy sessions which are, perhaps, typically seen by learners as ‘boring’. It’s not hard to find brilliant examples of library games – library people are blogging, tweeting and writing journal articles about them.

Back in June 2014 I hadn’t encountered any of this. That is until I attended a conference at Southampton Solent University, where, amongst other topics, game-based learning was discussed. I came home from the conference with a page full of notes, some unbridled enthusiasm, and set about researching the ideas, blogs and names that had been mentioned.

Two feverish days of research later I spoke to my manager about replacing our library induction, which was basically just a tour of the library, with a self-guided induction game. Heavily inspired by the induction games at Utah Valley University and Pace University, I pitched the idea of a murder mystery themed induction game to my manager. Luckily he loved the idea as much as I did, so I set about adapting the ideas for our library.

After a few false starts (creating a game is harder than it might seem!) we settled upon a version of the game that we believed introduced learners to enough of the library and resources to be worthwhile, but was not so long or overly complex that it would discourage learners from playing. So here it is: ‘Murder in the Library’.

As the learners arrived for their inductions we would gather them around the outline of a body on the floor of the library and explain that a murder had taken place, and it was up to them to discover the identity of the culprit. In small groups of 4-5 the learners had to follow a series of clues that would challenge them to find different areas or resources in the library. On each clue card was a question; the answers to each of these questions could be put together to form a Dewey number, which was the location of the final clue.

An example of the first clue given to students
An example of the first clue given to students
One of the clue cards hidden around the library.
One of the clue cards hidden around the library

While following the clues students also had to collect suspect cards. The final clue was a witness statement and the details on the suspect cards enabled the students to solve the murder.

Suspect cards
The suspect cards were designed based on trading cards

Each of our suspects were prominent members of staff from around the college. Using members of staff as the suspects was rather a lot of fun, not only did the students take delight in theorising ‘whodunnit’, but it made for an attention grabbing all staff email when we advertised the library induction.

As we come towards the end of the academic year I’ve started thinking about inductions again. Jess Haigh’s recent post on the CILIP website about the Cluedo inspired online information literacy game she’d developed for Leeds City College has given me a lot of food for thought. Not only was it immensely exciting to hear about another FE college doing something similar, but it has also revived the idea of creating an online version or element to our induction game.

The game we developed wasn’t perfect, although I think it was fairly successful given we hadn’t attempted anything like this before. Jess wrote in her article how she felt she had tried to do too much, and I certainly fell victim to this as well. The induction seemed to work well with our level 3 students, but was perhaps overly ambitious for our level 1 and level 2 learners. The level 1 & 2 learners were still able to participate in the induction, but they needed a much greater amount of support than the level 3 learners.

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4 thoughts on “Murder in the Library: A Library Induction Game

  1. […] Motivating students to engage in their learning, especially when the ultimate reward of becoming gainfully employed seems like some distant dream is a challenge to say the least. Is it enough for us all just to make like @suzannahbridge and congratulate students on winning the prize of knowledge? (*as part of her excellent murder in the library induction activity- read all about it here). […]

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