Thanks to everyone who made it out to LAUW’s second journal club meeting last week. Eight of us attended this time (that’s up three from last month) and we enjoyed some inspiring discussion on a topic that we’re hearing a lot about these days — student retention.
The selected journal club article was “Shhh! No Talking About Retention in the Library!” an article written by Heidi Blackburn, a Reference and Instruction Librarian at K-State University at Salina.
This article appeared in the latest issue of Education Libraries (pdf) and is a chatty exploration of some strategies academic librarians can use to help improve student retention at their institutions.
The group’s discussion touched on many topics over the hour, both directly related to the article and more generally about the library’s role in student retention.
Discussion highlights included:
- Agreement that retention isn’t something librarians are afraid to talk about (in our experience), but is an issue that that many of us have been unaware of until recently.
- Discussion of the author’s ideas for networking with students. We generally agreed that it’s important for librarians to be visible and involved in student life to truly understand students’ needs, but we raised some concerns over how this could be successfully accomplished in light of time constraints, other priorities, and varying degrees of cooperation/interest from academic departments and student groups.
- An excellent conversation that focused on librarians’ role as educators. We agreed that one of our most valuable contributions to student success is helping students to gain information literacy (IL) skills. We brainstormed ways that we could increase students’ exposure to and interest in the IL instruction we offer. A popular suggestion was to consider creating a certificate program for students based on a selection of the workshops we currently offer.
- Agreement that librarians are already supporting student retention through many of our services, activities, and library spaces. The challenge facing librarians could be more a matter of repositioning our contributions for university administrators and on-campus partners so they can recognize what we can offer to student retention initiatives.
As you can tell, we covered a lot in this meeting. If you missed it but have something else to add, please leave a comment.
We look forward to seeing everyone out again in early October!