One more post on the ALA Annual Conference, and then I’ll move onto other topics. I was particularly struck by the insights of speaker Carissa Tomlinson at the panel session, “Sticking with STEM: How the Academic Library Can Help to Retain Successful Students,” co-sponsored by ACRL’s Science and Technology Section and Health Sciences Interest Group. Carissa is the First Year Experience Librarian at Towson University near Baltimore, Maryland. Carissa’s slide presentation, “Quick Ideas for Libraries to Help with Retention Efforts,” is a useful outline of the challenges to STEM retention and practical ways to for libraries to contribute. Her emphasis on collaborating with campus partners to assist STEM students in new ways confirms the conclusions I’ve been drawing from the STEM retention literature. Carissa is actually an academic advisor, in addition to a librarian. Not all librarians will have the time to fully step into an advising role, but collaborating with advising and career services to approach one-stop service for information is key to reducing student frustrations with bureaucratic challenges. Volunteering for retention efforts in her liaison department is another approach Carissa has taken. She serves on the advisory committee for the IDEA Center for ESL nursing students, which provides cultural orientation for nursing practice and mentoring. This is a reminder that many academic librarians can support retention through their faculty requirements to perform scholarship and service. Hopefully, the library profession will be hearing more from Carissa Tomlinson in the future on the impact of her innovations.  

Photo attribution: Las Vegas Poster USA Welcome Casino, taken by lacarabeis, 3/7/2010, license – Public Domain CC0.


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