Colorado Academic Librarians Explore Services for Transfer Students

Note: This study will be presented on October 12, 2017, 3:15-4:15, at the Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL) Annual Conference (“Transfer Connection: Academic Library Services for Transfer Students“).

Transfer students are a unique population in academic libraries because their experiences vary widely: some are familiar with their community college library and then transfer to a four-year setting while others transfer between two and four-year institutions of different sizes. A team of librarian-researchers from University of Colorado-Boulder and Colorado Community Colleges Online (CCCOnline) are working together to learn more about serving this type of student. “I would discover that there were transfer students and they felt like they had missed out on the freshman level information literacy class that we typically offer,” explained participating librarian Megan Welsh of CU Boulder.

In spring 2017, Lindsay Roberts (CU Boulder), Megan Welsh (CU Boulder), and Brittany Dudek (CCCOnline) designed and distributed a survey about transfer students for academic librarians. “Specifically, we were really interested to know if libraries were doing outreach activities or instruction to transfer students as a unique population on our campuses,” Roberts said.

The research team determined their sample by using data from the Colorado Department of Higher Education to identify the four-year institutions that were receiving transfer students as well as all two-year schools in the state. This totaled 57 institutions, and the survey was sent to 44 of them (the team eliminated institutions that had closed or were closing or hadn’t transferred any students to public four-year institutions in 2015).  Fifty-five librarians responded representing 30 higher education institutions in the state: 20 four-year schools and 10 two-year schools. About three-fourths of the respondents (76%) worked in four-year schools. Only two of the libraries at four-year institutions represented by respondents were currently offering information literacy instruction specifically tailored to this group.

The survey also gathered information about the kinds of information literacy activities being used by libraries at two-year and four-year institutions. The largest difference between implementation of activities was for courses with an embedded librarian, which 80% of four-year library respondents use and 30% of two-year library respondents use.  Another large difference was in the usage of handouts: 100% of two-year library respondents use them, and 65% of four-year library respondents use them. See the chart below for additional results:

Moving forward, the research team plans to continue working together to address questions about transfer students. CU Boulder libraries launched a new event this fall to welcome transfer students to the library, a fall picnic and information session.

Interested in learning more? The research team will be hosting a CAL conference session, “Transfer Connection,” on October 12, 2017 to discuss this project and facilitate more conversation on this topic. They are hopeful that these kinds of conversations could lead to increased collaboration across two- and four-year institutions and continual service improvement.

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LRS is part of the Colorado State Library, a unit of the Colorado Department of Education. We design and conduct library research for library and education professionals, public officials, and the media to inform practices and assessment needs. We partner with the Library and Information Science program at University of Denver's Morgridge College of Education to provide research fellowships to current MLIS students.

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

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