Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 290 2017
The Impact of Academic Library Resources on First-
Year Students’ Learning Outcomes
Krista M. Soria, Analyst, University of Minnesota
Kate Peterson, Undergraduate Services Librarian, University of
Jan Fransen, Service Lead for Research and Discovery Systems,
University of Minnesota
Shane Nackerud, Technology Lead, Library Initiatives, University of
Colleges and universities are under increasing pressure to demonstrate
their contributions to students’ learning and development.1 In fact,
over a decade ago, all of the regional accrediting agencies in the United
States agreed to emphasize college students’ learning as central to the
accrediting process.2 Under these increasingly pervasive expectations
to demonstrate students’ learning, fully 85% of Association of
American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) members reported that
they have a common set of learning outcomes for all undergraduates.3
Additionally, nearly 90% of Association of American Universities
(AAU) member institutions reported using quantitative data to collect
information on student learning outcomes, with 70% reporting that
they had one employee or office specifically charged with developing,
coordinating, or implementing assessments of student learning.4
Amid the increasing calls for accountability to demonstrate students’
learning, colleges and universities are currently confronting competing
demands for fewer resources;5 consequently, it is even more vital
that programs and services demonstrate their contributions to
student outcomes. Academic libraries are no exception and, over
the last decade, researchers have expanded their efforts to better
understand how libraries contribute to students’ success, including
students’ retention6 and academic achievement.7 One critical area
of students’ learning and development often explored by library
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