Book Review: The First-Year Experience Cookbook

Kyndra Valencia


In any university library, the first-year experience is an essential component of capturing students’ interest and engagement from the very beginning and of publicizing what the library offers them. However, it is always a struggle to determine how exactly to capture freshmen’s attention and disseminate information about the library’s various resources. Coming up with fresh, relevant ideas on top of an already busy schedule is enough to stress almost any librarian. Pun and Houlihan’s book attempts to alleviate this stress by presenting a “cookbook” of ideas, activities, and lesson plans that librarians across the nation have found effective in engaging first-year students, giving library staff a wealth of options to consider, duplicate, or alter according to their own needs. The book itself is divided into four sections—orientations, library instruction, programs, and assessment. Each section’s activities and lesson plans are detailed and well described, offering excellent variety as well as suggestions for accommodating a wide range of program sizes, budget constraints, and time and staffing requirements. Many of the included projects also feature photographs of the activities or reproducible versions of handouts, increasing the ease of replicability for interested librarians.

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