Wake Forest University is hosting two visiting students from the University of Liberia in order to continue to strengthen the ties between the two institutions after the visit that Lynn and others took there in the spring. The two students, Jacob Jallah and JoeWilson, had an opportunity to visit ZSR this afternoon and it was my privilege to tour the two of them around the building and highlight some of our existing services. I also discussed aspirations that we have for the library and how our existing infrastructure made it challenging. We took a leisurely tour of the building starting on the 8th floor and ending on Wilson 1. The tour included stops in the Special Collections Reading room where Megan gave a brief overview of the collection, how it developed, and explained the current exhibit on display that is in conjunction with the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. The two had an opportunity to handle a book that was over 600 years old, and while they needed a little coaxing to actually touch it, ended up requesting that I take their picture with the book and Megan. We also visited the Writing Center, room 401, the terrace and the new DVD/viewing room where we had a chat with Mary about the new space. The auditorium was in use, so we only got a brief glimpse into the room, but couldn’t enter it. On Wilson 4, I took them into the Mandlebaum Room. While showing them our newspaper collection thinking that they might be interested in how many international papers we subscribe to, they showed me that their picture was actually on the cover of the Winston-Salem Chronicle! I had them sign our copy immediately! Sarah gave them an overview of our Reference collection and discussed our Lib100 and Lib200 classes. They asked about online books and she shared how to access Google Books as well as how to get access to our databases. Since Joe is an Economics student and Jacob is a Sociology student, we showed them how to get into The Economist and found a “freely available” copy. They were excited to see that! We then traveled to the Bridge where I highlighted the services they provide and I showed them the MultiMedia Lab. Then down to Wilson 1 to show our mobile shelving as a solution to our overcrowded shelves. (Talk about an embarrassment of riches!)
We returned to the circ desk and had about 15 minutes to spare so I took them into Starbucks to buy them some tea. They both found the chilly NC day unexpected, and needed some tea to warm up! I asked them about how their visit was thus far and they said everyone was friendly and welcoming and unlike what they had been told to expect in the States, everyone has been willing to take the time to help them out. They arrived last Saturday and when they were picked up were excited to discover that they could go and see a football game…only to be surprised that it wasn’t football! (They were, of course, expecting soccer.) Their time had been pretty scheduled, but they did have some opportunity to provide input on which events and departments they were most interested in seeing. They will be on campus until October 2nd before returning to Liberia. I encouraged them to come and make use of our services and our collections until then.