10 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 301 2020 such as numbers of times students enter the library, unique visitors to library programs, etc. Yet these numbers do not tell the larger story of students’ experiences, particularly with regard to these experiences’ emotional quality. Indeed, several decades of educational research has shown a correlation between sense of belonging and student retention at all levels of education. Notable works include Goodenow 13 Hausmann, Schofield, and Woods 14 and Osterman.15 By including sense of belonging within the development of undergraduate engagement, a critical analysis can be taken as to the types of relationships students foster with their peers and library workers, as well as the ways in which students feel a sense of connection to various library spaces and resources. While addressing the topic of belonging, it is also necessary to do so with a lens that addresses undergraduate students’ cultural identities. Centering the program design around a culturally sustaining pedagogy “explicitly calls for schooling to be a site for sustaining—rather than eradicating—the cultural ways of being of communities of color.”16 Though this pedagogy is discussed more often within the realm of primary and secondary education, it is important that librarians recognize their roles as educators, as well as the ways in which librarians’ interactions and decisions on behalf of patrons impact the ways in which patrons see themselves. Having these complementary theoretical foundations prior to starting the UEP was key to collaboratively thinking through undergraduate engagement and support. When wrestling with the challenge of tailoring a program to a student population that is ever-growing and ever-changing, our approaches coalesce around a primary focal point of centering community. To quote fellow librarian and Black feminist Audre Lorde, “Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression. But community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.”17
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