Some of your college students are already frequent library users, having mastered the art of locating their resources for a research paper, or finding a quiet place to study. But for those students who haven’t stepped through the doors of the college library just yet, how can you motivate them to make use of that vital resource?

You can try to persuade them with evidence, offer tips that will help them succeed, or assign a task that requires library use at the beginning of the new semester. By establishing that you expect students to visit the college library early on in the course, you motivate them to become more regular library patrons.

Benefits of library use

“Your school and community libraries are among the most useful resources to help you succeed at college,” Robert K. Throop and Marion B. Castellucci wrote in Reaching Your Potential: Personal and Professional Development Fourth Edition. “Not only do libraries provide material when you need to prepare a research paper or project for school but also they have information that can help you in your professional and personal life” (Throop, 103). The authors also pointed out that many libraries have a suite of digital resources available, so college students can access some of the library’s benefits from their own dorm rooms.

More and more evidence supports a direct correlation between library usage and student grades. A 2015 event, “C&RL Forum: The Correlation Between Library Usage & Student Success,” posted on the ACRL Value of Academic Libraries website, cited one study in which student library use correlated with higher first-term GPA, and another survey that showed how underclass students gained positive outcomes from studying in the library, while upper-class students reported positive outcomes from their use of the library as a resource for information.

Advising your students

But if your college students aren’t motivated by the evidence that library use will help their grades improve, you can also give them tips on how to use the library, such as provided by Courtney Burch in “The 10 Ways Your College Library Can Help You” for the Front Range Community College Blog. She included among her reasons:

  • Study spaces
  • Credible information
  • Hole punchers (and staplers, or other office resources not always available in the dorm)
  • Reading materials professors have put on reserve
  • The librarians. As Burch wrote, “Librarians actually ENJOY tracking down information and we want to help you with your information needs!”

Likewise, Throop and Castellucci considered librarians “the most valuable resource of the library” (Throop, 103). Not only can librarians aid in the research process, but they can also help students learn how to use digital library resources with greater efficiency, and point them to digital tools like Cengage Learning’s MindTap, which can help them accelerate their learning.

Library assignments

If your students are still hesitant about making use of the college library, start off the course with a short research assignment that requires use of library resources. Place an article on reserve so that students have to go to the library to access it. Actually hold a class session in the library, in tandem with library staff, to guide them to the resources at their fingertips. Guide them there, and they’ve got a great chance to discover their future successes on their own.

How do you motivate students to use the college library? Tell us in the comments.

Reference: Throop, Robert K. and Marion B Castellucci. 2011. Reaching Your Potential: Personal and Professional Development, 4th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth.