Student Engagement and the Academic Library

Student Engagement and the Academic Library

Student Engagement and the Academic Library

Student Engagement and the Academic Library


In spite of the doom and gloom predicted in the press for the future of libraries, these institutions aren't at the top of the endangered species list just yet. Librarians who are focusing significant attention and staffing resources on undergraduates--and are thinking creatively about what engages this specific group of students--are forging the future for academic libraries.

"Student Engagement and the Academic Library" explores how initiatives that involve high impact educational practices and other creative programs can effectively engage undergraduate students with academic libraries. The methodologies described in this work serve to draw students in and make their learning meaningful, both through curricular initiatives as well as through co-curricular and self-initiated activities, disciplinary initiatives, and partnerships across the university. This book will benefit any librarian seeking to further engage their college-age student populations, and will be especially helpful to libraries that are struggling to establish their programs and initiatives with today's students.


Academic libraries are facing a rapidly evolving landscape in every facet of their responsibilities and influence. Technology and the capabilities ensuing from new developments are changing the way information is produced, used and perceived by students. While the core mission and offerings of academic libraries may remain in the highquality services and resources they provide, the challenge of engaging students in their use increases annually and, it seems, exponentially. To succeed in the emerging landscape that is our contemporary society, ways must be found to remain relevant and vibrant in students’ academic careers.

Finding these paths requires librarians to be creative in ways they have never dreamed and to innovate with enthusiasm. Libraries are steeped in tradition, and while librarians were often at the forefront of early automation efforts, they have often been less responsive to the need for engaging students as the rate of change increases and the need to respond quickly becomes urgent. Innovation and creativity must be championed and the spirit of change embraced if libraries are to remain at the heart of the educational enterprise.

Craig Gibson began the conversation in 2006 in his book Student Engagement and Information Literacy. Gibson’s conversation on engaging students with information literacy will be continued and broadened throughout this book to examine activities, projects, initiatives, and spaces that create student engagement with academic libraries across a wide spectrum. Some examples come from Penn State, while others come from libraries whose librarians are creating exciting and innovative programs and initiatives. In each case, they have been chosen as examples of innovative ways of engaging undergraduate students with academic libraries.

As Google takes center stage in perceived information provision worldwide and students become accustomed to lightning-quick and super easy information searching, librarians must take seriously their need to win students over to their offerings and engage them with their resources and services. This will become an increasingly challenging task, and one that deserves focused attention now.

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