In recent years, many colleges and universities have seen large increases in the enrollment of non-traditional students, many of whom are also parents. A recent survey on the author's large, public, urban campus found that approximately 6000 students, 21.5% of the student body, are parents; and most of our student-parents are undergraduates. National research shows that undergraduate college students with children face substantial barriers to degree completion and are less likely to graduate than their classmates without children. How can academic libraries support student-parents, particularly undergraduate students with children? What are academic libraries doing now, and what more can we do? To answer these questions, this poster draws on higher education research and the author's research to share the following:
-Through graphics, an overview of the national student-parent population
-Through graphics, relevant findings from a data analysis of use of a family study room at the author's library
-With graphics, large quotes, and additional information via handouts, results and insight from a survey of undergraduate student-parents conducted by the author
-Photographs and illustrations of the best ideas for serving student-parents from academic libraries across the country
-A URL for an online bibliography with more information
Even with growing attention to the needs of non-traditional students, little research has been done on student-parents in the academic library. This poster provides an important overview of this underserved population and, using new research, suggests ways that academic libraries can address unmet needs and support our student-parents as they work towards graduation.
The research for this poster is in progress. I hope to present preliminary findings in this poster at ALA Annual and will be writing up the results more extensively and submitting a paper for peer review to a scholarly journal following the conference. Presenting this poster at ALA Annual would give me the opportunity to discuss this underserved population with people from other libraries who are working to serve student-parents -- and, I hope, call attention more broadly to the needs of this group.
Communications & Outreach Librarian
Portland State University