Retaining students by embedding librarians into undergraduate research experiences Public

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to identify an important area for librarians to positively impact student retention. Design/methodology/approach – This programmatic and conceptual piece describes how embedding librarians into the growing enterprise of undergraduate research experiences (UREs) lays a framework for a context in which libraries and librarians directly contribute to the retention of undergraduate students. Findings – Librarians are capable of directly contributing to the retention of students. While their efforts, it is contended, contribute routinely and to the actual retention of students, it is difficult for their efforts to register in the assessment of retention used by administrators. This discrepancy can be solved if librarians play a more explicit (and quantifiable) role in retaining students. Research limitations/implications – UREs are a growing, but generally untapped trend for librarians; however, because UREs generally correlate with academic success and student retention, they offer librarians a useful entry point to contribute to the academic mission of colleges and universities, and in a measurable way. Practical implications – Embedded librarianship poses a number of hurdles for its practitioners; however, it also has the potential for libraries and librarians to become more explicitly connected to overall institutional goals and strengthen their positions in the academy more broadly. Social implications – Improving the scientific literacy of undergraduate students and aiding them on their path toward graduation is meaningfully enhanced through the embedding of librarians into the college curriculum. Originality/value – Systematically embedding librarians into UREs is not strongly represented in the literature.

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