Friday, February 7, 2014

A Friendly Face

I attended a webinar yesterday on the topic of how college libraries influence student’s first year experiences. The webinar format isn’t my favorite way of interacting with people, but when several people gather to attend the webinar together there is often an exchange of ideas during and after the session. One of the other attendees at yesterday’s webinar was a new instructor in our Comprehensive Studies Department, who used to be a TCTC student. I recognized him as a former student when he started working here at the beginning of fall semester, because he’d been in the library seemingly every day back then.

One concept that the webinar touched on was that students may not realize that besides knowing how to find academic information for assignments, the librarians know a lot about how the college itself functions. A study of first year college students found that they have contact with their parents an average of 13.4 times per week – just under twice a day. Often, these contacts occur when students need guidance about “how the college functions” – where they should go for financial aid assistance, what to do if their academic advisor isn’t available, when to schedule classes for next semester, etc., etc., etc. Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college, and their parents might not know the answers to these questions.

After the webinar, the new instructor/former student said that when he was here as a student, he’d realized that not only were the librarians friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable, they were also THERE ALL THE TIME. Think about this: There is not much employee turnover at an academic library. If students can make a connection with a librarian early in their first year, that person is likely to be available to them for the remainder of their attendance at that college. Librarians are an untapped resource for many first year experience programs, but here at TCTC we are taking an active role in the integration of library skills and personnel in our Learning Communities. And with the required library workshops in all 100-level English classes, our students have the opportunity to connect with a friendly face that can help with much more than just research assignments.

By, Sue Andrus

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