When Librarians Rank Last: First-Year Student Research Readiness, Library Intimidation & High School Experiences
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What happens when high school students don't have access to librarians? In fall 2021 we conducted a survey of first-year students at two Ohio public universities. We hoped to learn about incoming first-year students' confidence in their ability to conduct college research based on their library experiences at different types of high schools and districts throughout Ohio. For example, we found that 82-88% of rural and small town students in our survey reported they never or rarely received librarian help with their research in high school. These same students reported feeling much less prepared to do college-level research. Similarly, students reporting lack of access to library instruction due to remote learning also reported feeling a similar lack of preparedness. In turn, consistent with library anxiety literature, many of our respondents also find college libraries intimidating. While the students don't report finding library staff to be intimidating, they rank librarians as the last choice for who they would ask for research help. We will share additional findings from our survey, such as our students' understanding of how college librarians can help them. We will then discuss how our findings impact librarians’ work with first-year students in reference, instruction, and web services. Learning Outcomes: Describe the differences in exposure to library instruction reported by students in Ohio high schools. Understand first-year students’ self-described knowledge of college librarians. Develop novel approaches to overcome first-year students’ library anxiety.
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