Supporting Student Parents in the Academic Library: Designing Spaces, Policies, and Services

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors

Student parents are a socioeconomically, racially, and financially diverse group. What they have in common is the drive to work hard to overcome steep barriers in obtaining a college education.
Supporting Student Parents in the Academic Library: Designing Spaces, Policies, and Services is part toolkit, part treatise, and part call to action. In four parts:

  • The Higher Education Landscape
  • The Role of Academic Libraries
  • Looking Outward to Community, For-Profit, and International Organizations
  • Evaluating Needs and Measuring Success 

It includes templates, sample policy language, budgets, survey instruments, and other immediately useful tools and examples. There are field notes from academic librarians from institutions of varying sizes and resources demonstrating different ways of supporting these students, and the voices of students themselves.
Student parents can feel unwelcome and invisible in their institutions. And for every student parent who is struggling to complete an education despite these hurdles, there are many others who have not been able to find a way. Supporting Student Parents is a guide to engaging with and aiding the student parents in your libraries and leading the charge in making your institutions more family friendly.

Table of contents

Part 1. The Higher Education Landscape
Chapter 1. Discovering Student Parents
Chapter 2. Pieces of the Puzzle
Chapter 3. The Uphill Battle, Part 1: Getting By
Chapter 4. The Uphill Battle, Part 2: Officialdom

Part 2. The Role of Academic Libraries
Chapter 5. What We Know
Chapter 6. The Changing Landscape
Chapter 7. Building a Space for Student Parents
Chapter 8. Graduate Student Parents

Part 3. Looking Outward
Chapter 9. What Others Are Doing
Chapter 10. What Four-Year Institutions Can Learn from Community and For-Profit Institutions
Chapter 11. International Examples

Part 4. Evaluating. Needs and Measuring Success
Chapter 12. A Look Under the Hood
Chapter 13. Attending to Outliers

Appendix A. Abbreviations
Appendix B. STEM Backpacks
Appendix C. Family Study Room
Appendix D. Boise State Student Survey Methodology
Appendix E: 2022 Boise State Parenting Students Survey Instrument
Appendix F. Matching Assessment Tools to Questions
Appendix G. Getting to Answers: A Worksheet to Guide Assessment with Parenting Students

Author Biographies

Kelsey Keyes

Kelsey Keyes is an Emerita Professor at Boise State University, where she worked as a research and instruction librarian from 2012–2023. She holds a Masters of Library and Information Science and a Masters of English Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She served on Rise: A Feminist Book Project for Ages 0–18, including terms as co-chair, from 2017–2020. Her research is focused on supporting parenting students in higher education. She provides writing and editing support for academics, business, fiction and non-fiction writers ( She lives in Europe with her family.

Ellie Dworak

Ellie Dworak is an Associate Professor and the Research Data Librarian at Boise State University. She earned her Masters in Library and Information Services from the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on higher education policy, human computer interaction, and the social impacts of living in a datafied society. She lives with her husband and three dogs in Boise, Idaho.