The African proverb, "It takes a whole village to raise a child," has been on my mind the last week or so. I know the proverb has been overused, but the essence still resonates with me: we are all responsible for the well-being of our young. I'd like to suggest a slight rewrite, though, to fit my context: "It takes a whole college or university to graduate a student." Or, more plainly: in higher ed, at least at small institutions like mine, we are all in the retention business.
Let me say that again: we are all in the retention business. Professors and residence deans and coaches have an obvious role to play, but librarians can still contribute. That's because one of the biggest factors in student retention is one that anyone can influence: making students feel like they belong on campus. It's all about the strength of the relationships they develop, not with whom they connect. That's where this librarian comes into the picture.
When I tell you that I think about student relationships every day, I'm not exaggerating. Building relationships with students was at the core of adding popular reading materials, of our participation in National Gaming Day, of hosting Humans vs. Zombies, of the cultural literacy series, and so on, and so on. And it's working. One of the benefits of doing these things at a small, liberal arts college is that, as a result, I'm able to be on a first name basis with a good chunk of our student population. I've gotten to be so well known on campus that I was actually the answer to a trivia question at a student run event. When I asked why, I was told: "Because everyone knows you." All I could do in response was to smile.
How about you? For those of you who work (or want to work) at academic libraries, is student retention part of your charge? What do you do? For those of you who don't work at academic libraries, do you have any suggestions for us who do?
Mezick, Elizabeth M. “Return on Investment: Libraries and Student Retention.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 33, no. 5 (2007): 561-566.
Oakleaf, Megan. The Value of Academic Libraries: A Comprehensive Research Review and Report. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2010.
Rushing, Darla & Deborah Poole. ‘‘The Role of the Library in Student Retention,’’ in Making the Grade: Academic Libraries and Student Success, edited by Maurie Caitlin Kelly and Andrea Kross (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2002), 91–101.
I'm aware of but haven't yet read any of these. Thanks for the citations!Delete
For anyone interested in student retention, there's a new ACRL Discussion Group on this topic. Their ALA Connect page is at http://connect.ala.org/node/173037 and they are having a meeting at ALA Annual on Saturday afternoon (details at http://ala12.scheduler.ala.org/node/1431).ReplyDelete
Thanks for that info! I won't be at ALA, but I'll check out the Connect page.Delete
I love that you were the answer to a trivia question! It might not count in a tenure review but that's the kind of recognition that really matters. As a graduate of that place it makes me smile to know there's a librarian everyone knows :)ReplyDelete