Slides from Tate Conference 2014


We had a great time presenting on our project at the Tate Conference--mostly academic advisers, student affairs, career advisers, and a variety of other folks focused on students.

In addition to sharing our project, we talked about examples when it could be helpful for advisers, etc. to know whether students had or had not used the U Libraries. For example, what if a student showed high libraries use...maybe they would be good candidates for a UROP proposal, or how to help students to build research skills even if their courses don't require it at the moment but will in the future, or if a student was a academic probation...

Here are slides:

Upcoming presentation


We will be presenting at the 2014 John Tate Academic Advising Conference on Thursday March 13, 2014 on campus here at the University of Minnesota

Our session details are as follows:

Isn't all on Google!?! Myths and Realities of Student Library Use
Presenters: Kate Peterson, Shane Nackerud, Jan Fransen, Kristen Mastel

Want to help your students engage more academically? The Libraries could help. The University Libraries, with OIR, have collected and analyzed data to gain a picture of library use at the U. Learn more about how library use relates to student success and retention.

More details:

"As space"


We are beginning work on some future space plans in our largest library on campus. Based on all of the data we collected for our Student Success projects, the new work group wanted to know about what we could pull out to inform the space project. Logical, right?

But disappointing because the answer is not much. When setting up the data collection for our original project we wanted to know who was "using the libraries" in one or more than one of the ways we outlined. But we didn't collect the "what" that was being used (e.g. collected that x student checked out a book but not which book; gathered that x student used a computer in one of the libraries but not which library, etc.). This was a deliberate and thoughtful decision for our initial project to protect user privacy.

Yet we are now unable to go back to the data and try to find out more about the "what." We are now trying a little of this. For our space project we have flipped this--gather data tied to a specific place but not x student. So we can get a snapshot (e.g. College) but not to the depth of our earlier work. Below is a quick chart of use of the library computers in 2012-2013 in the largest library on our campus and the associated colleges.


Using data across universities


Today's NPR story How college applications change in the era of Big Data, mirrors our study of student library interactions. It is encouraging to hear how colleges and universities across the nation are not only collecting and using data for marketing purposes, but also for retention, and student engagement. Hopefully this will mean more support for libraries in mapping library data to student data with institutional research offices, along with collaborating on research projects, and looking at the campus holistically, rather by each individual unit. What conversations and decisions could happen if all units across campus logged interactions into one system?

First Year student use of U Libraries


Today is the last day of class for Fall semester. Students are busy--slightly frantic even finishing up final papers, research projects, and studying for finals. Our staplers are getting a work out.occupy.jpg

I have been thinking about our first year students finishing up their first semester. Project Information Literacy (PIL) recently released a new exploratory study called, "How Freshmen Conduct Course Research Once They Enter College. Through interviews and a survey of high school students and first year students PIL looked at the challenges new first year students face in their first semester in terms of the complexities of academic research and academic libraries.

We are also in the process of bringing up a new discovery layer for spring. I wonder what all these students will think when the come back for spring to a new website and one BIG search box. We are working on revising our guides and workshop, Intro to Library Research to support students use of our new tool. Our Library Data project has done a good job giving us some tangible ideas on improving student success in our workshops and online tutorials (e.g. authentic work like our Library Research Worksheet) and we are working on maximizing these learning opportunities within the relatively small amount of time we have with students.

I look forward to seeing how the discovery layer helps simplify (?) the search experience and considering how we work towards the higher level issues like critical inquiry, reading and making sense of academic literature, finding related sources, and so on.

Maybe we need to gather some data on those staplers.


Here are a few more selected findings:

  • Many freshmen, who assumed everything they needed to know was just a Google search away, soon discovered they were unprepared to deal with the enormous amount of information they were expected to find and process for college research assignments. This transition from completing high school assignments to doing college-level research is one of the most formidable challenges that incoming freshmen face.

  • To a lesser extent, they struggle with reading and comprehending scholarly materials once they are able to find them and have trouble figuring out faculty expectations for course research assignments.

  • Once freshmen began to conduct research in college for assignments, they soon
    discovered that their college library was far larger and more complex than their high
    school library had been

  • Most freshmen said their research competencies from high school were inadequate for college work. As they wrapped up their first term, freshmen said they realized they
    needed to upgrade their research toolkit.

  • In the short time they had been on campus, a majority of first-term freshmen said they
    had already developed some adaptive strategies for shoring up their high school research skills. Most often, this meant they were becoming accustomed to reading academic journal articles. Some had discovered the usefulness of abstracts to save time and help them make selections.

Usage stats


One of the things I love about this project, besides the actual relationship between library use and student success, is just that finally we are consistently tracking usage numbers from semester to semester. We have four semesters of data so far, and as you might expect, just the numbers alone reveal some interesting trends. For example, in the 13-15 areas we are tracking library use, usage of the library is trending upwards:


Of course, for some library transaction types we count frequencies in a unique way, and these numbers do not represent actual usage numbers, but in the way we count (essentially front-door access increments) the numbers are climbing. That can be seen as a good sign. However, where are we seeing the biggest increases? If you guessed digital resource access numbers, you have guessed correctly.


These numbers represent initial point of access numbers for databases, ebooks, and ejournals, and logins to our library website. Databases, ebooks, and ejournals are definitely being used more from semester to semester, while library web site logins are remaining relatively consistent.

Of course, this probably comes as no surprise, but people at the University of Minnesota are using our digital resources more and more, and the trend line seems to be climbing. It will be interesting to monitor these numbers in coming semesters, and compare them with other traditional library use types.

Do undergrads consider libraries important?



Our colleague Krista Soria has been busy--amazingly busy--analyzing data from the SERU (Student Experience in the Research University) survey to determine factors which correlate to how undergrad's rate the importance of libraries and research.

The data show areas of success and areas of opportunity--including targeting service development and promotion efforts, working more closely with student services including career services, aligning with programs that facilitate faculty sponsored research and more. This article deserves a read....

Here is the citation:
Soria, K.M., Factors Predicting the Importance of Libraries and Research Activities for Undergraduates, The Journal of Academic Librarianship (2013), [Article in Press]

Here are few highlights:

  • Female undergraduates are significantly (p < .05) less likely to place importance upon libraries and research as male undergraduates.

  • Hispanic students, Asian students, international students, and students from an unknown or other racial identity place significantly (p < .05) more importance upon libraries and research than their peers.

  • Students from lower income families placed significantly greater (p < .05) value upon libraries and research compared with their peers from higher income families.

  • Transfer students were significantly (p < .05) more likely to perceive libraries and research activities as important than native students

  • Students enrolled in an arts or humanities, business, education, and health or physical fitness majors placed a significantly (p < .05) lower importance on academic libraries and research


  • "The inferential results of this study suggest several factors are positively associated with the importance students place upon academic libraries and research activities at research universities. These areas are among those that hold the greatest potential for library staff to leverage in garnering support for ongoing activities, future development and growth, and increased prioritization within the larger organization."

  • "Conversely, the presence of some student groups who view libraries and research activities as significantly less important than their peers beckons future inquiries into the reasons these students do not value libraries and research with as much importance as their peers."

  • "Finally, it is encouraging that students who have developed library and research skills place greater value upon libraries and research activities, as do students who are more satisfied with libraries and research opportunities."

Orientation is upon us


A bit of lunch time musings as we somewhat frantically prepare to welcome #umn17 to campus next week for Welcome Week (where did the summer go?). We also brought up our new discovery layer, MNCAT Article Discovery and I need to take it for a test drive so did a little search on Orientation and student success and retention and found this new articleclass2017.jpg

Melissa A. Hubbard, Amber T. Loos, (2013) "Academic library participation in recruitment and retention initiatives", Reference Services Review, Vol. 41 Iss: 2, pp.157 - 181. DOI: 10.1108/00907321311326183

From my brief skim it certainly illustrations all academic libraries do in terms of recruitment and retention much of it partnering with other campus units. At the moment we have not folded the data we collect during the Libraries "big" day of events into our overall data partly as the experience between students is so variable during this 5000+ student events and party because the unit that hosts the event does gather and assess the students many times during their welcome week experience.

  • How do we draw the line (is it dotted?) between the bigger university's efforts and our role in those?
  • Should we be trying harder to connect those dots?

How do CSE students and faculty use the library?

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CSE-Spring-2012.jpgA few months ago, I took a slice of the 2011-12 academic year dataset we've been analyzing through the LDSS project and looked at it through a different lens. I compared students and faculty in the College of Science & Engineering (CSE) to their peers in other U of M colleges, and to each other. Krista Soria graciously repeated her regression analysis work investigating correlations between library use and other measures of student success for the CSE first year cohort.

This week I presented our findings as a poster at the American Society for Engineering Education annual conference in Atlanta. In summary, we found:

  • Positive correlations between library use and both GPA and Scholarship (as measured by the SERU instrument) for first year undergraduates in CSE

  • A much lower percentage of CSE undergraduates used library resources than did their peers in other colleges (65% of CSE undergraduates vs 79% of undergraduates in other colleges)

  • About the same percentage of CSE faculty and graduate students used library resources as those in other colleges

  • Patterns of use within each department yielded some unexpected results that have led and will lead to other avenues of investigation.

You can find both the poster and the research paper in the University Digital Conservancy.

AIR Forum 2013


air_forum.jpgA few weeks ago Krista and Shane presented at the Association for Institutional Research Forum 2013 in Long Beach. Here is their program listing and we hope to add the slides soon:

AIRUM Best Presentation: Linking Library Data and Student Success
Academic libraries, like other university departments, are increasingly asked to demonstrate their value to institutions. This study presents the results of analyses predicting the relationships between library usage and first-year students' retention, college experiences, and academic success at a large, public research university. Usage statistics were gathered across 13 different library access points and outcomes were derived institutionally (e.g., retention, grade point average) and aggregated through student surveys (e.g., academic engagement, scholarship activity).

Krista Soria (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)
Shane Nackerud (University of Minnesota - Twin Cities)
Facilitator: Kevin Fosnacht