Student-Centered Libraries

Changing both expectations and results

Authored by: Anu Vedantham

The Routledge International Handbook of Student-Centered Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Print publication date:  July  2020
Online publication date:  July  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367200527
eBook ISBN: 9780429259371
Adobe ISBN:


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Sewing machines, ice cream, slam nights and hot-glue guns. Today’s libraries can be surprising places. The word “library” may bring to mind dark wood bookshelves, high ceilings, Gothic architecture and deep silence. In addition to such traditional reading rooms, today’s academic libraries include presentation venues, video studios and spaces that welcome food, naps, social collaboration and mobile phone use. Librarians are no longer gatekeepers of knowledge; they play nuanced roles in guiding effective use of information for scholarship. In this chapter, we consider three theories from psychology: self-efficacy, stereotype threat and growth mindset, and the role of libraries as “the third place” set apart from work and home. We explore triggers for changes to library services: insights about how humans learn; the increasing diversity in the demographics of college students; the risks of information overload from search platforms moderated by corporations; increasing use of active and online pedagogies; and changes in perception of expertise, bias and validity. We consider campus tensions faced by academic libraries in terms of competition for budget, space and student attention. We share specific examples of spaces, collections and services that prioritize diversity, inclusion and belonging. We discuss how understanding the need for metacognition and self-management affects how libraries represent themselves to students.

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