Students Lead the Library: The Importance of Student Contributions to the Academic Library

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Academic librarians are driven by the belief that student scholars are at the heart of the library. Our collections, programs, and services become meaningful when students use and learn from them. We build our websites and other digital services, our buildings, marketing and communication strategies, and content to meet their needs. The library exists, at least in large part, for the students—and student employment, leadership, and input into the library can increase engagement and outreach and improve both the library and the students it employs.

In six parts—Students as Employees, Students as Curators, Students as Ambassadors, the Library as Client, Student Groups as Library Leaders, and Students as Library Designers—Students Lead the Library provides case studies of programs and initiatives that seek student input, assistance, and leadership in the academic library. Through the library, students can develop leadership skills, cultivate high levels of engagement, and offer peer learning opportunities. Through the students, libraries can create participatory design processes, enhancement and transformation of the library's core functions, and expressed library value for stakeholders.

Students Lead the Library gives practical perspectives and best practices for implementing these kinds of initiatives in ways that can be easily adopted to fit many different needs and circumstances. It's useful to libraries seeking to improve their services to students, reach out to new student populations, give students experiential learning opportunities, and even mitigate staffing shortages.

Introduction. Setting the Context



Part 1: Students as Employees

Chapter 1. Leading, Learning, and Earning: Creating a Meaningful Student Employment Program
Beth Hoag and Sarah Sagmoen
Chapter 2. The Library as Leadership Incubator: A Case Study of Towson University's A-LIST Program
Carissa Tomlinson and Sara Arnold-Garza
Chapter 3. The Front Face of Library Services: How Student Employees Lead the Library at Grand Valley State University
Kristin Meyer and Jennifer Torreano
Chapter 4. Aligning Values, Demonstrating Value: Peer Educator Programs in the Library
Krista Bianco and Joannah O'Hatnick





Part 2: Students as Curators

Chapter 5. Community Collections: Nurturing Student Curators
Julia Glassman, Simon Lee, Danielle Salomon, and Doug Worsham
Chapter 6. "Leave Your Legacy": Student-led Contributions of University Experience to the Special Collections and Archives
Ashley Todd-Diaz, Shari Scribner, and Kylie Lewis
Chapter 7. We Didn't Break Twitter: Student Control of the Library's Social Media Channels
Jamie P. Kohler





Part 3: Students as Ambassadors

Chapter 8. Student to Student Marketing and Engagement: A Case Study of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries Peer Guides
Joan M. Barnes
Chapter 9. Getting on the Inside: Developing a Discipline-Based Student Ambassador Program
April Hines, Tiffany Baglier, and Ben Walker
Chapter 10. Implementing a Peer Support Program for International Students: A Case Study at McGill University Library
Tara Mawhinney and Jennifer Congyan Zhao





Part 4: Library as Client

Chapter 11. Keep It Local: Tapping Student Expertise to Build Better Libraries
Luke Leither
Chapter 12. Applied Learning and the Academic Library: Creating Opportunities for Students to Lead
Anne Pemberton, Laura Wiegand, and Christopher Rhodes





Part 5: Student Groups as Library Leaders

Chapter 13. Mobilizing Student Leaders to Enhance a First-Year Cohort Program
Marybeth McCartin, Nicole E. Brown, and Paula Feid
Chapter 14. Two-Way Street: Ambassadors Sharing the Road
Adriana Gonzalez, Sara K. Kearns, Darchelle Martin, and Jason B. Reed





Part 6: Students as Library Designers

Chapter 15. Just Ask Them! Designing Services and Spaces on the Foundation of Student Feedback
Emily Daly, Joyce Chapman, and Thomas Crichlow
Chapter 16. Pizza for Your Thoughts: Building a Vibrant Dialogue with Students through Informal Focus Groups
Kenneth J. Burhanna



Sara Arnold-Garza


Carissa Tomlinson


Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)

Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for librarians. Representing more than 11,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL develops programs, products and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship.

“Academic librarians and library staff who wish to get students more involved in and engaged with their library will find this resource helps to generate ideas and will learn much from the challenges and successes of the case studies.”

— Library Journal