Librarians: The Link between Students and Graduation?

With the economy still stumbling and many college graduates unable to find meaningful employment, colleges and universities are facing growing pressure on several fronts: to keep costs affordable, to justify the value of a college degree, and to help students who start college actually finish it. There is much that academic librarians can do (and have done) to help control costs, but Steven Bell, a librarian at Temple University, says they can also play a significant role in helping students stay in school and earn their degree.

In an article for the January-February issue of Information Outlook, Bell says he foresees an “alt-higher ed” model becoming more popular as graduation replaces retention as the goal of higher education. Under this model, students will pick and choose from among a variety of education options—nonprofit and for-profit schools, in-person and online courses, part-time and full-time enrollment—in their quest to accumulate enough credits to earn a degree. Colleges and universities that facilitate this model will graduate more students and attract a commensurate share of education funding.

What role can librarians play in helping students graduate? Bell mines the research literature and suggests specific actions they can take, but the gist of his message is that librarians should build relationships with students.

“Librarians want to be at the forefront of connecting with students in ways that keep them connected to the library and their academic program,” he writes. “By helping students achieve academic success, librarians make their most significant contribution to retention.”

Read more about what Steven Bell has to say on this topic in Information Outlook—coming soon!

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