Five things the library could pay more attention to than whether students consider us essential to their success
Inspired by this excellent post from Barbara Fister, who knocks it out of the park as usual.
I largely agree with her; the recent report showing that the majority of college students do not consider the library essential to their success is not news. As an undergrad I probably wouldn’t have either. Certainly not as much as the music building where I spent most of my time and the staff of which had kindly allotted me a practice room of my very own to store my drum set in. (P.S. This is true. Thanks, Smith College!)
Here are some things that I think we should think about instead:
1. Do we really provide better, more suitable and higher quality resources for student research than what they can get through Google and Wikipedia? Equally important, can they find that stuff? I have yet to interact with a database interface that didn’t frustrate me on some level; if it annoys an expert, it stymies a student.
2. Can they get to those resources through Google? If they find a journal article this way, can they access it, or will they run into a paywall?
3. Is our space welcoming, conducive to getting the work done that students need to do, and do the staff provide good service? (This is one place where I do think libraries could learn a thing or two from retail.)
4. What barriers exist to our patrons availing themselves of the content and services we provide? What can we do to remove them?
5. Do the faculty at our institutions consider the library essential to student success? Should they? If we conclude that they should, and yet they don’t, how do we address that? Faculty have far more influence than librarians on student perceptions of the library’s relevance to their work.