Welcome exhibit introduced at Mary Idema Pew Library

Amy McNeel

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The start of the 2018-2019 school year is just days away, and with a new school year comes thousands of new Grand Valley State University students. Throughout the next few weeks, new students will have many opportunities to explore the GVSU campus and familiarize themselves with college life. 

One of these opportunities is being held at Mary Idema Pew Library. Each fall, the library holds an interactive welcome exhibit for students. 

“The exhibit aims to decrease common feelings of homesickness and loneliness and create a relevant introduction to the library,” said Erin Fisher, Library Program Manager for Grand Valley State University Libraries. 

This year, the exhibit is called Lift and is centered around helping students to take flight. 

“We are using kites as a metaphor for the college experience,” Fisher said. “Participants will get to leave their mark by responding to prompts on cut paper. The paper shapes will be hung to create garland akin to kite tails, filling the room to create an immersive representation of our collective and individual interests.”

The prompts on the cut out paper will include questions about what students are excited for, what they are nervous about and what makes them feel at home and more. Through taking this time to reflect and connect with other GVSU students, the library staff hopes to make the transition into college life easier for new students. 

“It is a common myth among first year students, in particular, to think that you are the only one with questions and that everyone else has figured this whole college thing out,” said Emily Frigo, liaison librarian. “Like any phase of life, college involves many developmental transition points; some more comfortable than others– and it all takes time.  We hope the exhibit makes your transition to college and the new school year a bit easier.” 

The use of kites to symbolize college life not only represents the difficulties of college transitions, but also the endless support and helping hands available along the way. 

“When I think of the title, I not only think of the kites or flying, I also think about being a member of our community and that ‘Lakers lift,’” Frigo said. “Behind each building on campus, there are people and services to support you on your journey.  When we lift each other up, we are stronger together.” 

The exhibit will provide an opportunity to explore, learn and get involved with the Laker community; it is an easy first step in the immersion process into GVSU life. 

“Getting involved isn’t just fun, it is strategic,” Frigo said. “When you feel engaged and feel you belong, everything else is a bit easier.” 

Overall, it is hoped that students who attend this event will leave with a better sense of belonging on campus. 

“The start of the school year is hectic, nerve-wracking, and exciting,” Fisher said. “We hope students realize that everyone on campus–including faculty and staff in our libraries–is here to support them in their endeavors.”

The Lift exhibit is an all-day event located in the Mary Idema Pew exhibition space. It will be running every day until Sunday, Sept. 23. In addition to the Lift exhibit, the library is also hosting two related events: Kite Flying on the Lawn and Pew Grand Rapids Campus pop-up.