I’m thankful for this week’s set of readings. I now see I have still been thinking way too narrowly about this embedded business. I am inspired by daring deeds of yet more librarians with imagination!
Librarians can easily make a more than full-time job of just serving the patrons who, of their own volition, walk through the library portal or who are coaxed, or compelled, to utilize library services through course requirements. We can likewise have our heads down, laboring in the shared pursuit of academic success for our students while ignoring the whole student.
Where in that service delivery focus is the segment of the population for whom, for whatever reason, the library is a foreign land? Or for whom academic success is taking a backseat to more immediate matters of mental, physical or spiritual health……or simply the pursuit of self?
I’m a parent who knows that student affairs services are vitally important academic success…..and just to plain straight up living. As a parent of recent college graduates, I can report my findings from a subjective ad hoc mixed methods study of a sample of two! One of my children successfully rambled his way through his undergraduate experience, casually accessing student services here and there. The other child absolutely only survived…and thankfully thrived….because of the student services at her college. She was supported and upheld by the counseling office, health center, dean of students, wellness programs and writing center, where she worked as a tutor. The dedicated folks she met, as she took what really was an unplanned second major in her own health and wellbeing, are now her mentors, friends and models for her current counseling profession.
Whether they intensively used the student services at college or not, my two “sample” students actually packed something off to college that not all college students bring. They brought the knowledge that somewhere on their college campus there were dedicated people, with mad skills and resources, who they could seek out when needed. During their K-12th grade years, they had ample opportunity to become acquainted with the value of librarians, school counselors, nurses, extracurricular program leaders and learning support teachers. Not all college students are packing that prior knowledge.
So I am a believer. Student services are vital to a student’s college experience……the all of it….not just the academic success piece. Partnering with student affairs entities is a great way to extend library services to an underserved, or un-served, population that we are sometimes endanger of being too busy to embrace.
One of the transformational learnings from this class is that libraries should cultivate a presence in the work flow of students. Maybe we should modify that to say we should be in the life flow of students.
Another transformational learning from this class is that libraries can, and should, seamlessly facilitate learning. In fact, at times it may be wise to cease the ceaseless showcasing of our services and just serve! Seamlessly. Behind the veil of other vital campus efforts like career, writing, counseling and wellness centers, residence halls, multicultural organizations and activists groups. We should be asking these entities: whatdyaneed?
I know that libraries need to be careful about over extending and creating partnerships that are lopsided, unsustainable or fruitless. But the examples from this week’s readings of librarians in the life flow of students are proof that there is plenty of room for libraries, in partnership with student affairs programs, to be truly helpful to students during their formative college years.