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Who’s the patron?

September 13, 2011

At our library the student is the most important patron.  They are, for all intents and purposes, the reason we are even in the building.  Our accrediting agencies and approval standards have said a library or resource center must be present in a career college so students can get the resources they need to be successful.  And most would know that intuitively.  I mean every school exists for the student’s benefit right?  Well, maybe.  At the surface it might seem that way but I think that if we leave our focus at that level we are missing a huge piece of the pie.  I’ve been in my current position as proprietary college library director for 3 years and while the mission of student as priority is all fine and good at some point you need to get the students in the room and then you need to get them to use something other that Google to research their papers with. 

This isn’t groundbreaking.  I mean what library doesn’t deal with that challenge?  Gracious our profession spends enormous amounts of time discussing it and troubleshooting it and thinking about it and managing it and, well you get the idea.  One of the ways I believe we can encourage student library usage is through the faculty and if that’s true does that make the faculty our first priority?

The individual that a student spends the most time with while in school is their instructor.  The instructor creates the learning environment for the student.  They set up the parameters of what it means to be a student.  The encourage and mentor in some instances and at the very lest they are responsible for what information the student is presented with during a class.  I don’t know about you, but that is somebody I want on my side shouting praises for the libraries services.  But do get a faculty member to do that one of two things must happen.  Either they have to love libraries from experiences in the past or they have to see benefit in the library that is available for the students to use. 

How are you driving faculty to use your library?  Do you see benefit in creating a solid relationship with them?  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and it has motivated me to look at the mission of the library.  Or at least the underlying mission.  While certainly students are those that I want to touch and teach maybe I should begin looking at how I can get to them through other bodies.  How can I use the power of “word to mouth” advertising to not just bring them into the room, but get them asking questions?  Maybe, I’ve been focusing on the wrong group?

What do you think?  Please share your comments and encourage others to take a read and share their thoughts too.  Am I missing a huge point?

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