In 2013 the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) launched a three-year program, Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success (AiA) designed to help postsecondary institutions “investigate the library’s impact on student learning and academic success.” The project findings are important because they reinforce the “growing body of evidence that demonstrates positive contributions of academic libraries to student learning and success.” According to the findings report these contributions are in four key areas. They are listed below (directly quoted from the Executive Summary):
- Students benefit from library instruction in their initial coursework. Information literacy instruction provided to students during their initial coursework helps them acquire a common set of competencies for their undergraduate studies. The assessment findings from numerous AiA projects that focused on information literacy initiatives for freshmen and new students underscore that students receiving this instruction perform better in their courses than students who do not.
- Library use increases student success. Several AiA studies point to increased academic success when students use the library. The analysis of multiple data points (e.g., circulation, library instruction session attendance, online databases access, study room use, interlibrary loan) shows that students who use the library in some way achieve higher levels of academic success (e.g., GPA, course grades, retention) than students who did not use the library.
- Collaborative academic programs and services involving the library enhance student learning. Academic library partnerships with other campus units, such as the writing center, academic enrichment, and speech lab, yield positive benefits for students (e.g., higher grades, academic confidence, retention).
- Information literacy instruction strengthens general education outcomes. Several AiA projects document that libraries improve their institution’s general education outcomes and demonstrate that information literacy contributes to inquiry-based and problem-solving learning, including critical thinking, ethical reasoning, global understanding, and civic engagement.
Academic libraries do indeed contribute to student success and the research and critical thinking skills developed in college will also contribute greatly to success in the work environment.