Reflections on Participatory Services in the Academic Library

Quick Personal Reflection:

When I reflect on my undergrad experience at Georgia State I have so many memories of the library.  As an English Lit student, I relied heavily on every aspect of the library: print, electronic, space.  What I have no memory of is any one-on-one interaction with a librarian during the entire four years.  I was the type of student to pop in to see professors during office hours 2-3 times a semester, but I never reached out to a librarian.  I had general plans for grad school either as an LIS student or English major and still it never occurred to me to see a librarian for any reason.

Academic Library Participatory Services

With that personal anecdote as a pin point in my reflection of what kind of academic librarian I would like to be, I have to consider that more can be done to interact and reach out to the student body individually and via group.  Embedded librarianship is key solution to this and from what I can tell, the concept is still getting off the ground.  Including a librarian in specific courses and programs on the forefront instead of an after thought could have provide the bridge students need to approach a librarian.  As Laurersen (2016) puts it: “Libraries are not closed circuits, they are – or should – be well integrated value-adding units in the academic community”.  I would expand on this and say that Librarian’s are not closed circuit, we need to well-integrated into the community and on the forefront for students to approach either virtually or in person.

Three Takeaways!

Since this is was a CYOA module and I know we did not all read the same set of links, I wanted to share some highlights for me from the reading.

  • Get into the passenger seat!  This truck metaphor struck me as so profoundly on point.   What a clear depiction of my perception of academic librarianship.  I now have a clear metaphor for the issue at hand- how do we as academic librarians get into the passenger seat, available and ready for student interactions?
https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=participatory-design-action-user-experience#_
  • Destination experience In Hayden Library at Arizona State Library they are taking cues from the retail model and creating thematic experiences at the entrances to the library.  They are highlighting the special collections prominently for the students to experience as they make their way to their desired space in the library.  With libraries being used so often (pre-covid) as study and communal spaces, it is important to highlight the largely unknown layers of the collection.  This adds to the experience of the library, increasing the desirability of the destination space, but it also creates a shared experience for the campus community. 
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/03/24/arizona-state-u-library-reorganization-plan-moves-ahead
  • International student interactions:  This part of the reading really struck me as new and important.  International students are on the rise and the libraries can play a huge part in the success of the student’s experience if there are opportunities to connect.  A major “ah-ha” moment for me was that students from other countries have different expectations of what a library can offer.  It is vitally important that there is a well-formed partnership between the library and the international student affairs office.  By offering services, resources, social opportunities to these students right away the library can make the experience of transitioning to a new learning environment that much more successful.
https://sr.ithaka.org/publications/rethinking-research-libraries-in-the-era-of-global-universities/

4 thoughts on “Reflections on Participatory Services in the Academic Library

  1. Hi Amber, I really enjoyed your blog this week! When you mentioned how you cannot remember speaking to a Librarian the whole time you were working on your undergraduate degree, I just realized that was my experience as well! It’s also great to think of the academic library as another resource to help international students adjust and connect with their new school and fellow students. The library is such a natural space for that. Thanks for the very interesting post!

  2. @amberbales

    I really enjoyed this blog post. Your recollection of not having any one-on-one interaction with a librarian during your undergrad years stuck with me and made me think about my own undergrad library experience. I spent plenty of time in my university library but I also can’t recall ever dealing with a librarian one-on-one! It seems like a lost opportunity and I’m sure I missed out on library resources that would have been useful in my program.

    Borrowing from the retail model, as Arizona State’s library is doing, is such an interesting and innovative idea for an academic library. Thanks for sharing that link!

  3. Hi Amber,
    Come to think of it, my experience with my university’s library during my undergraduate studies was the same. Although I was in there at least once a week, I might have only reached out for assistance once or twice throughout my entire four years of study. Partly because I was too overwhelmed and intimidated by the research process and did not know what resources were available to me. As you mention, I also think it’s important for academic libraries to be well integrated in order to add value to the curricula so that students know what resources are available to them how they can access them.
    Nydya

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