WT’s Cornette Library wins statewide award for pandemic response

Local News

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – West Texas A&M University’s Cornette Library won a Texas Library Association award for its efforts to save two popular outreach programs during the height of the pandemic.

Said the University, Cornette Library was awarded a Branding Iron Award for special events at TLA’s recent conference.

The library, said the University, was cited for “successfully transform(ing) their Kickback and Movie Night programs into virtual ones, continuing this tradition despite the challenges of the pandemic,” according to TLA.

Kickback is traditionally an in-person session at which Cornette librarians provide relaxing activities for students before final exams. At Movie Night events, popular films are screened on the Cornette lawn at the start of the academic year for students and the general public.

“These programs are incredibly popular, drawing several hundred people each year,” said Mark McKnight, outreach and instruction librarian. “But, as we tried to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19, we knew that large, in-person events were ill-advised, and even though we attempted to follow WT’s carefully considered guidelines to host in-person events, these events would have been unfeasible as traditionally structured.

“We set out to provide a reasonable alternative for both of these programs for our students,” McKnight continued. “With all of the changes that our students endured over the last year, we wanted to provide a bit of stability and consistency for our students during an uncertain time by continuing to provide programs we have hosted for years.”

For Kickback, virtual replacements were found for its most popular features, including video instruction for crafts, an Improv Story Time led by library staff, and more, all of which were livestreamed on the library’s Facebook page. For Movie Night, librarians wrote their own Mystery Science Theater 3000-style commentary for episodes of the 1950s TV show “Captain Midnight” and hosted a virtual screening. Attendance numbers for both were in line with traditional in-person versions.

“We were impressed enough with the outcome that we decided we will include a virtual experience alongside in-person events in the future,” McKnight said. “We believe this offers our on-campus students more opportunities to enjoy our outreach programs, and it gives our distance learners the chance to participate in our outreach programs like never before.”

Innovation is one of the key aspects claimed by the University in its long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

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