By John Jackson and Raymond Pun
In this FYE Spotlight Series, we’ve spoken to many academic librarians from community colleges to major universities to hear more about their work in supporting the FYE community. In this interview, librarian John Jackson from Loyola Marymount University Library shares his experiences in collaborating and designing outreach programs for first year students. John also discusses the importance of libraries in connecting with first year students as soon as they start.
Ray: Thanks for speaking with us! Can you tell us about your role and briefly describe your library’s recent FYE activities?
John: As the Head of Outreach for the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University, I’m responsible for leading our efforts to reach and serve our diverse user population. I work closely with our Student Engagement Librarian, Ray Andrade, to develop first-year orientation programming. This past year, we completely revamped our approach to the university’s welcome week activities and extended library orientation throughout the first month of the semester by offering a series of events, including pop-up tables across campus and a library open house. With regard to the latter, we hosted our first-ever “all-hands-on-deck” open house for new students in October. We had therapy dogs, trivia games, library-based learning activities, free library t-shirts, vegan burritos, and even a voter registration booth! Our goal was simple: reduce library anxiety by introducing students to the “faces and spaces” of LMU Library. It was a great success!
Ray: That’s an awesome idea to have an open house—I’m glad you all organized it together! Why do you think it’s important for libraries to be involved in supporting the FYE?
John: Like many universities, we are concerned about retention. Within LIS research, there has been a lot of interest lately in identifying the connections between library use and retention, especially in the first semester. The research so far has been encouraging: the use of library spaces and resources within the first year at university has a positive correlation to graduation rates. With this in mind, I think it’s important for librarians, especially those of us in outreach and programming, to identify ways to get students in the building as soon as they step on campus. Hopefully, we’ll have a good two to four years to mold them into information literate individuals and lifelong learners. That process starts on day 1 of the semester.
Ray: What’s next for FYE support in your library?
John: That’s where my colleague Ray Andrade comes in! Ray recently moved into a newly-created position at LMU: Student Engagement Librarian. He will be our primary liaison to the campus’s Student Affairs division and will be working with units like international students, orientation, transfer services, first-year experience, and housing to identify ways the library can support their programs. On the academic side, we already have strong connections: information literacy is a required flag in LMU’s curriculum and every new student has at least two classroom touchpoints with the library during their first year. We are hoping to build on that success in the co- and extracurricular arena as well.
John Jackson is the Head of Outreach and Communications for the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University. Prior to coming to LMU in 2015, John worked in a variety of different academic library roles, including reference & instruction, cataloging, and digital archives. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his partner and two kids. His commute is five minutes.