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Hide and seek in the library: Geocaching as an educational and outreach tool

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Andrew Spencer
Macquarie University Library
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johanl/5025900536/
                                         Source: http://www.flickr...
Account with a geocache listing website




GPSr, or smartphone with geocaching app

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Hide and seek in the library: Geocaching as an educational and outreach tool

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The PowerPoint from my presentation at ALIA Information Online 2013.
Note: the video after slide 9 does not have audio (you'll need to imagine the "Benny Hill" theme while you're watching :-) )

The PowerPoint from my presentation at ALIA Information Online 2013.
Note: the video after slide 9 does not have audio (you'll need to imagine the "Benny Hill" theme while you're watching :-) )

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Hide and seek in the library: Geocaching as an educational and outreach tool

  1. 1. Andrew Spencer Macquarie University Library
  2. 2. Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johanl/5025900536/ Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mycachemania/4089016759/ Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewandlisa/2225038045/
  3. 3. Account with a geocache listing website GPSr, or smartphone with geocaching app
  4. 4. Traditional cache
  5. 5. Multi-cache
  6. 6. Mystery/puzzle cache
  7. 7. How we did it
  8. 8. Why we did it • Promoting the library and the ASRS • Encouraging community members into the library • Training tool • A bit of fun
  9. 9. From a geocacher’s point of view
  10. 10. Was it worth it?
  11. 11. • Geocachers need to interact with environment in some way • Geocachers come from all walks of life • Geocaches all over the world
  12. 12. Educational • Puzzle series placed by Bainbridge Public Library in Washington http://www.bainbridgepubliclibrary.org/bainbridge-island- shoreline-geocache-quest.aspx • Multi-cache in a film library in Denmark http://coord.info/GC1JR37 • Dr Who-themed cache in library in Manly, NSW http://coord.info/GC3G0M7 • Traditional cache in Mesquite, Texas to celebrate Mesquite’s 125th anniversary http://coord.info/GC3C4XA
  13. 13. Outreach • Puzzle cache in Denmark which takes cachers on a tour of the library http://coord.info/GC3011C • Traditional cache inside a San Diego library http://coord.info/GC25F0
  14. 14. Contact details: Email: andrew@geocachinglibrarian.com Twitter: @andrew2153 Website: http://geocachinglibrarian.com

Editor's Notes

  • Good morning everyone, and thanks for coming along to my presentation. I’d like to start with a question. Who had heard of geocaching before looking at the conference program? Anyone found a cache? I’ll briefly describe what geocaching is and how libraries can use it as an educational and outreach tool.
  • High-tech hide-and-seek or scavenger hunt. A geocache is a hidden container containing logbook and maybe small trinkets.Can be as small as your thumbnail or as large as an ammo can or lunchbox. Hiders hide cache – post coordinates on website – finders download coordinates – search for the cache – sign logbook – log their find online.Geocaching.com, the largest cache listing site, currently lists over 1.9 million active caches and has over 5 million registered users from all around the world. Began in May 2000, and for the first eight or nine years, these were the tools that were required – computer to access website, and GPS receiver to download cache information to and navigate to cache. Availability of geocaching apps for smartphones has made geocaching more accessible.
  • Easy to get started. Free to set up accounts with listing sites (geocaching.com, terracaching.com, geocaching.com.au, opencaching.com).GPSr = GPS receiver (handheld device). Many free apps available (search for “geocaching” on Google Play produces 1000+ results for free apps, and the same search in the Apple App Store retrieves over 200 apps for the iPhone). These apps can allow for spontaneous geocaching to occur, as they can query the geocaching.com database in the field and provide the cacher with a dynamic list of nearby caches. Hand-held GPS receivers require cachers to download the cache data before they head out caching, so it is harder to perform a quick query to identify nearby caches.
  • Geocaching.com has 14 different cache types. Most listing sites have a similar range. Most common types are:Traditional – coordinates published on website are coordinates for container. Most common type.
  • Multi-cache – coordinates on website are for first stage. At first stage need to find coordinates for second stage, which will have coordinates for third stage and so on.
  • Mystery/puzzle cache – coordinates on website are usually not the coordinates for the container. Need to solve a puzzle of some sort, either at home or in the field, to find coordinates for container.Multi-cache and mystery cache can be used for caches hidden indoors, as clues along the way can be used to create call number or some other location code. Don’t have to be coordinates. We used mystery cache at Macquarie.
  • Cache page information.
  • Why did we do it:Promoting the library and the ASRS – ran tours but people who couldn’t come on tour can see library by finding cache.Encouraging community members into the library – MUL has “open door” policy and cache will help with engagement with community. Training tool for students explaining Library of Congress classification and how to read a call number and locate items on shelf.A bit of fun – shows that we have a sense of humour, something a bit off-beat.
  • Was it worth it?Definitely. Cache has been found 46 times. Feedback from finders has been overwhelmingly positive. Ex-staff and students have returned to campus to find it, and students who don’t usually come to the library have come in in order to find it.
  • Geocaching is different from other mobile location-based apps, such as Foursquare, in that geocachers need to accomplish a task within the library in order to find the geocache, rather than simply “checking in”. This interaction with the location opens up a range of possibilities for introducing geocaching to the library. These include setting up a treasure hunt within or outside the library where patrons need to gather clues in order to construct the coordinates of the cache, which is hidden outside. This hands-on activity engages students with the library, as well as the lesson (if in a library at an educational institution). Caches don’t have to be listed on geocaching.com. Can set up your own “private” group of caches e.g. on school or university grounds. There are guidelines which you need to follow if you want to list a cache on geocaching.com. Ideal for school librarians, who could set up a treasure hunt in the library gathering clues which lead to a cache hidden somewhere on the school grounds.Geocaching appeals to a wide cross-section of the community – families with kids, teenagers, retirees. Can attract a wide range of people to the library.
  • Bainbridge caches –educate about local shoreline environmentDanish film library – secret library as there are no signs indicating library locationDr Who cache – fun as well as educationalMesquite cache – partnership with local government to educate about history of town
  • Puzzle cache - good way to showcase features/collections within libraryTraditional – don’t need to create puzzle to attract cachers, simple traditional will work too
  • Happy to answer questions/provide advice on hiding caches. Let me know if you want to try finding a cache during conference.
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