Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Puppy Power!: Therapy Dogs in an Academic Library

I ran a therapy dog event last week. It went so well that this blog post will probably sound much more gushy happy than I've ever sounded, but really - I knocked it out of the park with that event.

In case you aren't aware of this idea, there are lots of college and university libraries that bring trained, certified therapy dogs during stressful times of semester (for my school, the event happened during the week before exams). The point of these events is basically for students to pet and play with the dogs.

How did it go at my library?

  1. The dogs themselves were fantastic. Some were lap dogs, others wanted to play. All were sweet and gave boatloads of love to the attendees.
  2. The volunteers who brought their dogs were wonderful, too. All of them talked to the students - asking their names, majors, where they grew up, etc.
  3. The turn out was astonishing. When the dust and dog hair had been cleared, and all the counts counted, I realized that over 10% of the student body had come one or both nights. I was especially happy to realize that most of them were freshmen.
  4. I saw, and got to talk to, many students who I've never seen in the library before that event. One student was telling me about his dogs at home, another talked about possibly changing majors. They were in the library and relaxing.
  5. The best part? Student reactions. I overheard one student say, "This is the most fun I've had at college." Another clapped her hands, danced a little, and said, "yay!" when she got into the room where we held the event. One student wrote "DOGE" on the sign in sheet as her reason for attending.

I could cite research and talk procedures of running these events all day, but there are others better sources for that kind of information than my blog. If you're trying to get an event like this started at your library, let this post serve as the answer to why these events should be done.

My biggest bias in my work is towards the needs of the students, and bringing therapy dogs in served their needs in spades. Puppy power!

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