Library Strategy and Collaboration Across the College Ecosystem: Results from a National Survey of Community College Library Directors was written by Melissa Blankstein and Christine Wolff-Eisenberg.
Published: September 9, 2021
From the Executive Summary:
Community college libraries are one key part of this ecosystem of services that aims to advance student success. They provide spaces, scholarly resources, technologies, and support services that contribute to learning and a sense of belonging. To carry out these functions, they often partner with other academic affairs support providers, like tutoring and writing centers. Partnerships with IT departments have been especially crucial as the library has taken on more of a leadership role with technology loaning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How can the library be best positioned to continue enabling student and institutional success? The Community College Academic and Student Support Ecosystem research initiative seeks to examine how student-facing service departments—including academic libraries—are organized, funded, and staffed at community and technical colleges across the country. In February 2021, we surveyed 321 community college library directors to provide the community with a snapshot of current service provision, leadership perspectives on the impact of COVID-19, and challenges faced in making decisions and navigating change.
- From the perspective of library directors, there is a lack of alignment between institutional priorities and library contributions. They recognize the importance of institutional efforts to increase retention, enrollment, and graduation, but believe the library’s most critical contributions are tied to increasing student learning.
- Library leaders see value in presenting data on the library’s impact toward college objectives. However, few leaders believe their library has clearly articulated these contributions or tied data collection to institutional objectives.
- Collaborations between the library and other units on campus are expected to take greater hold in the years to come, while external partnerships with third-party vendors and public libraries are likely to stay relatively stable.
- Cross-campus collaborations are enabled both through specific initiatives and broader organizational structures. The most significant collaborations between libraries and other units generally take place within academic affairs, for example with writing and tutoring centers, and with IT departments that are outside of the academic and student affairs ecosystem.
- Community college libraries have taken an increasingly major role in technology provision during the pandemic in response to student need. Partnerships with IT departments are often crucial for maintaining and troubleshooting devices, while the library generally leads on device lending.
- Budgets have taken a significant hit during the pandemic, with nearly half of all library leaders reporting some level of budget decrease in the current fiscal year. There is a strong desire, when funds are available, to make a greater investment in improving access to digital content.
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