Thursday, February 4, 2021

Call for Chapter Proposals: Responding to the changing needs of students (American Library Association)


Editor: Sigrid Kelsey

202 LSU Library

Baton Rouge, LA 70803

 1-2 page proposals are sought for an edited collection, Responding to the Changing Needs of Students (title subject to change), published by ALA Editions, that will present 12-16 chapters of 2500-3000 words each by expert librarians examining how academic libraries are responding to the changing needs of students to provide support in key areas: advancing the quality of learning; fostering inclusion; and driving down costs. 

Tentative Timeline

·         Due date of chapter proposals: March 1

·         Authors notified of status of proposal: April 1

·         Chapters due: May 1

The book will have a special focus on supporting the success of students who are members of what current literature is calling “vulnerable” groups. Vulnerable students are those who face barriers or challenges that can impede their success in school: financial insecurity, racism, childcare duties, disabilities, and other barriers. Many students in these populations have also been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The American College Health Association (ACHA) names Black, Asian American, first-generation low-income, Latinx, LGBTQ+, Native American, international and unauthorized students, and students with disabilities as those who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.[1] That list is not exhaustive, and some students fall into multiple categories.

The purpose of the book is to provide practical advice for those working in academic libraries to address unique challenges and provide inspiring ideas to respond to the rising numbers of at risk students in college student bodies, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the students it has affected the most.  The book will endeavor to include and represent a wide variety of sub-disciplines including but not limited to public services, collection development, interlibrary loan and document delivery, programming, DEI initiatives, supporting student mental health, financial impacts, hiring and human resources, and more, with practical ideas that can be applied as libraries move forward.

·         The book will include successful case studies and examples from a variety of academic libraries, giving readers ideas and resources that have worked in other libraries to fit to their situations in order to flourish post-pandemic.

·         It will focus on ideas to support students academically, socially, and financially, especially students who are at greater risk of dropping out. Readers will learn about news ways to engage with the students who need the most support.

·         It will include studies addressing today’s issues, and how they are changing student needs for learning and social environments on college campuses and their libraries.  Readers will have current ideas and resources regarding how libraries are responding to changes brought about by the pandemic, movements of racial reckoning, and their ripple effects on campuses such as curriculums, building name changes, budgets, and student demographics, and how libraries participate and respond. 




Part I: Students need support in rapidly changing learning environments.


Academic librarians creatively supported and engaged with students during the sudden and large-scale shift to online learning caused by the pandemic. Going forward, successful libraries will transform their business models to respond to permanent expanded online teaching, provide related professional development for library staff, shift collections expenditures to increase online collections, and prioritize work that supports students who are learning remotely. Increased embedded librarianship, virtual research help, new policies for interlibrary loan and special collections are only a few of the innovations the pandemic prompted in libraries that will create lasting positive changes for students, especially as student bodies become more diverse and nontraditional.

As greater numbers of students juggle family and work commitments in addition to school, colleges and universities are increasingly adapting their courses to be more flexible, providing asynchronous and synchronous online courses, self-paced, and evening classes. Libraries too, are shifting support mechanisms to be flexible for students with a multitude of commitments. 

This section will include chapters describing best practices for supporting students as remote learners and in a continually evolving landscape. Chapters on how libraries are adapting to changes in education structures, student bodies, course content and financial resources will be considered.  Topics may include articles about policies and partnerships, new models for providing research assistance, hiring considerations for libraries (i.e. night librarians, first year librarians), working in asynchronous and synchronous online environments, creating self-paced library instruction modules and videos, book delivery, and more.


Part II: Students need programing that fosters inclusion


Library programming and outreach events are learning opportunities and ways to encourage social integration into college life, a key factor in the retention of undergraduates. Programming around social issues, such as criminal justice reform, climate change, and racial justice prompt discussions about the issues themselves and engage the students with the library and its resources.  As well, libraries often partner with campus entities such as diversity offices, women’s centers, campus food banks, and health centers, which are effective ways to reach students in need and to promote equity and inclusion.


This section will include ideas for programming and outreach to engage students in the societal problems that contribute to inequities among humans. For example, programming around media literacy, environmental racism, and more. Submissions about programming and outreach to student groups will be considered, as well as submissions about programming that increases awareness around DEI and systemic inequities. 


Part III: Students need financial support


The central mission of a library is to remove financial and physical barriers to resources, making them freely accessible, and facilitating learning and research.  Libraries build on this mission as new technology and resources become available, offering OER and OA materials for courses, free Wi-Fi, lap-top checkouts, and safe spaces to study and spend time.  Libraries provide additional financial support to students by employing them. Students facing financial barriers to buying textbooks, laptops, and other resources are more at risk for dropping out of college, and libraries are inventing ways to remove these barriers.

This section will include innovative ways libraries are easing the financial burden of college such as: addressing technology equity, e-textbook initiatives, paid internships, grants and awards for students, development initiatives to endow assistantship positions; children’s book sections for parenting students; and more.  Preference will be given to submissions that demonstrate initiatives making a substantial financial difference in a student’s life, especially for students from minoritized groups.  


Tentative Timeline

·         Due date of chapter proposals: March 1

·         Authors notified of status of proposal: April 1

·         Chapters due: May 1


Questions? Email Sigrid Kelsey,


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