I often get emails from other academic librarians asking how they can increase their outreach efforts serving first year students. (Thank you for your emails!) One way to enhance your student services as an FYE librarian is to engage with your student affairs or student services division directly. Typically, this division supports all student-related matters from enrollment, to outreach, to health and wellness, to student conduct.
You might be wondering, what do they have to do with library services? In fact, this division and its many departments can serve as important partners for outreach services, and can help you share your resources, services, and programs with a broader population of students.
Do you know who the academic advisors are? Have you collaborated with the tutoring center before? What about summer bridge or transfer services programs? If you are able to make these connections with the student affairs professionals, you’ll likely learn more about what they do, and draw on new connections to support their work. Most importantly, you can share how the library provides services for students beyond books and online research tools. They may not even be aware that they can use library resources as well.
Here are some ideas to consider when collaborating with various departments under student affairs:
- Offer library tours and general workshops for student affairs colleagues: emphasize how they can access research articles to enhance their own professional effectiveness in serving students, in addition to reminding students that they can meet with librarians for research help.
- Co-teach career research workshops with career counselors using a variety of research databases.
- Collaborate with health and wellness professionals to offer de-stressing activities such as meditation or therapy dog sessions in the library on the week before finals.
- Offer brief library orientations for transfer students by working closely with the enrollment office; this activity can also be done for international and summer bridge students.
- Promote the “personal librarian” service to academic advisors who can refer at-risk students to meet with librarians when they experience challenges with their research papers.
- Co-design a series of skill-based workshops with the tutoring or writing center where students can learn note taking, time management, or general research skills.
Starting any new collaboration can be challenging at first since you may have to think about whether these partnerships are sustainable or scalable. However, when you build these new partnerships, you’ll also expand the library’s visibility, services, and resources to students and staff. It is worth experimenting to see what can continue to grow as well. I also find that my student affairs colleagues are generally eager to collaborate with librarians to create new events, services, or workshops for our students too!