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Getting a clue: creating student detectives and dragon slayers in your library

Anna‐Lise Smith (Utah Valley University, Orem, Utah, USA)
Lesli Baker (Utah Valley University, Orem, Utah, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 15 November 2011




The purpose of this paper is to describe how Utah Valley University Library staff created two games to orient students to the library and library services.


Library staff developed and marketed the Get a Clue game, which used clues placed throughout the building at the beginning of the Fall semester to orient new students as they solved a mystery. During the Spring semester, the library staff introduced library services through LibraryCraft, an online game where students used library resources to slay a dragon.


In post‐game surveys, students found the games entertaining and informative. The results show students saw the orientations as a good use of their time and their comfort levels with library services increased.

Practical implications

As a means of engaging and informing students, games offer a new means of orienting students to the library and library services. The self‐paced game approach allows students to learn valuable information with minimal impact on staff.


This paper offers practical information about using games as an academic library orientation. Assessment data support the effectiveness of games as an effective, asynchronous method of introducing students to a library facility and services. This information can be used by other libraries to create their own self‐paced orientation games.



Smith, A. and Baker, L. (2011), "Getting a clue: creating student detectives and dragon slayers in your library", Reference Services Review, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 628-642.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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