Our library consultants are focused on the development of the academic library. We believe the academic library is a place for peer and collaborative exchanges. We believe that hybrid and online learning platforms offer a space for embedded librarians to improve student learning outcomes and contribute to the overall instructional efficacy of teachers. We believe that online discussion boards, a staple of assessment for online learning, require libraries and librarians to enhance support, for both students and instructors. We believe that the academic library can enhance graduation rates. Our strategies reflect the need to make libraries and librarians more effective in the struggle to improve student success.
The 2013 Ithaka S+R Library Survey outlines how academic libraries can develop new priorities for the 21st century. For example, the survey states that libraries were more interested in discovery systems in 2010. Today, most library directors are interested in information literacy and strategies to enhance academic support services. The report stated that 2/3’s of library directors are moving toward digital resources; something not surprising. The report stated that funding is the largest problem for academic libraries, requiring justifications for investment(s).
Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of Education, stated: “Everyone deserves access to high-quality learning opportunities, from preschool to middle school and all the way through college. In order to achieve Pres. Obama’s goal to lead the world in college graduates by 2020, we must work to ensure that everyone has a chance to enroll and complete post secondary education.” As colleges, and community colleges in particular, are the cornerstone of this presidential goal, we have identified the academic library as being an integral part of the process. We believe the best strategy to accomplish these goals is to invest in collaborative spaces with professional and peer learning activities. The library can play a role as a physical space and online by providing embedded librarians to support student success.
According to the American Institute for Research, graduation rates in the United States are not inspiring. Less than one-third of entering community college students and less than one-half of entering four-year college students ever graduate. Dropouts from college impact the economy in terms of lost earnings and taxes to the tune of about $4.5 billion a year.
The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS headline dated November 26, 2011 declared: CUNY Dropout Rate Shows Public Schools Aren’t Preparing Kids. The article went on to state: “Four out of five students attending CUNY community colleges need to remedial class work in math, reading and writing.” Within six years 51% have dropped out and, of the rest, only 28% graduate.
As for the graduation rate at CUNY’S four-year colleges, the following was obtained from their individual websites:
- Brooklyn College – 27%
- Baruch College – 34%
- City College – 30%
- Hunter College – 19%
- Lehman College – 14%
- Queens College – 26%
- York College – 3%.
Granted, many of the students work or have other responsibilities and cannot graduate within four years. For example, the six-year graduation rate at Brooklyn College rises to 48.2% and it is possible that the eight-year graduation rate may rise to over 50%. The numbers are still problematic.
Of course, students’ learning cultures, family backgrounds and socioeconomic levels also affect graduation rates. Remedial programs, tutoring and mentoring do work, however. The data indicates that 27% of community college students utilizing CUNY’s intensive remedial programs graduate in two years while only 7% using their own resources graduate in two years.
We have an idea…and an action plan. We want our academic libraries to become incubators that help to increase graduation rates. Since most information perused by students in our two- and four-year colleges is now digital, space can be freed within these facilities for host of programs including digital tutors, peer support, staff counselors, etc.
To this end we are holding a library planning workshop on May 27, 2014 at the Steelcase Showroom in New York City at Columbus Circle. Please come and join us.