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Personal Librarian, Anyone?

Librarian and student meeting.

Have you ever dreamed of having your own Personal Librarian, someone who can answer questions and help you with all your information needs? For some Santa Clara students, this dream has come true. In fall 2015 the library implemented a Personal Librarian program to establish one-on-one relationships between student and librarian that last until the student's graduation.

We initially identified transfer students as a group likely to benefit from individual attention. Studies show that transfer students often have a hard time adapting socially and academically to a new institution. They are often a more diverse group in terms of age, education, and social background and their needs for support might be greater than those of the average freshman. Very little information is available on the information skills and research experience of transfer students; however, we know that they miss out on the library instruction sessions offered to all entering freshmen. As a result, they are often unaware of library resources and services available to them, which has been a long-term concern for the library.

After implementing a small but successful pilot project with transfer students last year, Academic Support Services suggested other groups likely to benefit from the program. This fall we reached out to 234 students: 138 transfer students, 33 students on academic probation, and 63 Lead Scholars (a cohort of first generation students). Eleven librarians are participating in the program and have been busy contacting students, setting up appointments, and responding to requests for help.

The results so far are encouraging. Although still early in the quarter, more than 20% of the students contacted have met with their librarians and asked for help. At the end of this academic year, we plan to survey participants to get more accurate data on the impact of the program. The personal librarians are already receiving positive feedback from their students, who clearly appreciate the individualized help.

The program is also very rewarding for staff. SCU librarians pride themselves on providing assistance to all students wherever or whenever they need it, in person or virtually. But this new program is different, as it gives librarians the opportunity to help the students with their research needs and connect with them on a more personal level. As librarian Shannon Kealey says, "when students know that we care about them beyond just their academics, we hope they will be more likely to approach us for help."

Sometimes a friendly face and a personal touch is all it takes to help students succeed.


Helene Lafrance
Head of Instruction, Research, & Outreach

Jan 20, 2016