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Planning for a Really Big Welcome

June 1, 2021

Every fall is an exciting time on campus – but this fall might be the most interesting yet.

Like many librarians supporting hybrid learning during the pandemic, we’ve given some thought to how our undergraduates have spent the past year-plus. Most rising third-year students only spent a semester and change learning on campus before March 2020. Meanwhile, incoming first-year students are probably raring to go for a steady, in-person learning experience.* And then, we have our second-year students.

The phrase “sophomore slump” comes to mind – I’ll link to some reading at the end of this post for a deeper dive. The 2021-22 year could potentially be a sharper slump, because some second-year students may not have spent much (or any) time on campus during their first year of classes. When these students arrive for fall term in a few months, they will have limited background experience to draw from.

Planning for ways to support students during this transition is on our library’s agenda this summer, particularly for the second-year group. We’ll see all the first-year students in sessions with their seminar classes, but that won’t be the case for their second-year counterparts. For all students, we want to amplify who we are and how we can help. We’re hoping to expand on some existing outreach, including:

  • Promotion in the residence halls and dining hall – We’ve shared digital and print content in these spaces, so these will be simple updates to better position our services among unfamiliar students. Clear calls to action and simple design elements will be key. One example: We may revamp a past bulletin board notice that included tear-off strips with a link to our consultation scheduling page.
  • Social media planning – A more consistent schedule of work-study student takeovers, faculty, staff or student book recommendations, and similar content would help build engagement and awareness of our collections and services in the fall term.
  • Continued and new collaborations – These partnerships have always been important, and are even more critical now. Our creative and thoughtful colleagues across campus are eager to see more students for in-person activities and classes. By collaborating on workshops, events and instruction, we can support their work and connect with students as well.

These are just a few of the plans we’ll talk about, along with other projects. Summer will go by quickly!

If you’re interested in initiatives related to sophomores, here are a few of the many resources out there:

Black, E. L. (2019). The Credo second-year transition guide: Extending retention and student success efforts beyond the FYE. Credo Reference. http://hdl.handle.net/1811/91864

Hulseberg, A., & Twait, M. (2016). Sophomores speaking: An exploratory study of student research practices. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 23(2), 130–150. https://doi.org/10.1080/10691316.2014.981907

Kuglitsch, R., & Burge, P. (2016). Beyond the first year: Supporting sophomores through information literacy outreach. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 23(1), 79–92. https://doi.org/10.1080/10691316.2014.944636

*let it be both steady and in-person, please.

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