Who Succeeds in Higher Education? Questioning the Connection Between Academic Libraries and Student Success
Many academic libraries are feeling pressured to join “student success” initiatives to collect and analyze data about students’ academic behaviors. In the library, this may result in tracking who uses group study rooms, who checks out books, who asks questions at the reference desk, and who participates in information literacy instruction. These data points are being used to prove that students who use the library are more likely to succeed in college; therefore, academic libraries are valuable. Such surveillance methods have been used in several high-profile studies, including those in the Association of College & Research Libraries’ Assessment in Action initiative. In this talk, I will question the role of academic libraries in student success and the methods being used to prove academic library value. What is at stake when academic libraries connect student library use with their academic performance? What are the implications for students’ privacy? Could tracking students in the library lead to self-censorship and intellectual freedom concerns? Most importantly, what do students really need from an academic library in order to be successful in college?