For many students, searching for a call number and finding a book in the stacks at the UC Merced Library  can seem like a daunting task.
Librarians at UC Merced understand the importance of connecting with students early in their freshman year to make them aware of resources and services available. Up until now, most new students were introduced to the library by way of their Writing 1  courses and live instruction by library staff. With increasing enrollment each year, librarians realized that in-person instruction wouldn’t be sustainable, and they were compelled to come up with an alternative.
After hearing about a successful iPod Touch library orientation created by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, they were inspired to begin looking into producing an iPod library tour for UC Merced students.
In the spring, the library received a Center for Research on Teaching Excellence 
mini-grant that provided funding for a student assistant, technical support and the purchase of 15 iPod Touch units. Librarians developed video content and prepared a storyboard for the project. Video production was completed almost entirely by library student assistants.
“UC Merced’s iPod Touch library tour was created to fill the need to orient Writing 1 students to the library
without needing a librarian present,” said Deputy University Librarian Donald Barclay. “But, it was also an experiment to see how iPod Touch-based instruction compares to in-person instruction.”
The video tour directs students through the library’s book stacks, self-checkout stations, study rooms and offices. It demonstrates how to perform a catalog search to locate books, e-books and journal literature.
“It covers the library’s space, resources and services in a 20- to 30-minute tour featured on an iPod Touch,” said psychology  and cognitive science  major Jessica Julian, who worked with other students on the project. “It encompasses some of the major resources that our library has to offer in a portable device. It also stays true to incorporating technology with education.”
Once students finish the iPod tour, they are asked complete an online assignment to assess what they learned. The library will also host several follow-up open house sessions for students to offer feedback.
“As with everything we do, an assessment tool was built into the project in order to collect data,” Barclay said.
“We will continually monitor feedback to determine whether the instructional tours are working and assess how to improve them.”
While the project was initiated for Writing 1 students, any UC Merced student, staff or faculty member can check out the iPod Touch tour for a two-hour period at the Library Services Desk on the second floor.
To download the tour on your own iPod, visit: ucmercedlibrary.info/ipod-touch-library-tour/ . The library also plans to make the iPod Touch tour available through iTunes U.