Library and Information Science


Attracting and keeping students is a high priority in higher education and for some time academic libraries have examined some of the ways they might be contributing to student retention. Some have found a relationship between library instruction and retention, others have found it between library use and retention. This paper takes a step back from the discrete factors correlated with retention and instead looks at the possible faculty effect on library use. It will review the existing literature on academic libraries and student retention and will present the role of the classroom professor in driving library use. In other words, the library -- and all its spaces, services, and resources -- is not causing retention but rather is a conduit by which effective teaching faculty direct their students to the library as a critical academic support service.

The high-impact educational practices identified by George Kuh (2008) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities include several activities that are directly or indirectly supported by libraries. Many academic libraries provide first-year seminars or workshops. They collaborate with other campus support services to offer co-curricular programming and common intellectual experiences. They support writing-intensive courses that have high levels of information literacy content through direct instruction and librarian consultations. They offer mentoring and resources for undergraduate research projects. They also send librarians into capstone classes for in-depth instruction in advanced library research.

Each of these practices, often led or initiated by teaching faculty, drive student use of the library. Student use of the library is correlated with student retention in several studies. Faculty influence whether a student uses the library, whether through direct assignments or co-curricular programs. Therefore, as this paper proposes, *faculty engagement with the library* is a contributing factor to student retention and is a hidden best practice.

Academic libraries are part of a complicated higher education system, yet much of our library assessment is focused inside the walls of the library. This presentation will encourage assessment librarians to design collaborative assessments related to student retention that deeply explore the relationship among teaching faculty, academic libraries, and student retention.


Kuh, G. D. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What the are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.


O’Kelly, M. (2016). Academic libraries and student retention: The implications for higher education. Paper presented at the 2016 Library Assessment Conference on November 1, 2016, in Arlington, VA.

Data analysis provided by Rachael Passarelli, MS Research Analyst GVSU Office of Institutional Analysis