Ithaka S+R regularly and extensively studies the perspectives, practices, and needs of faculty and students at four year colleges and universities to inform future roles for the academic library. Today, we are excited to announce that we will be expanding this work over the next 18 months to partner with seven community colleges in assessing and improving library support of student success within a community college context. We are grateful to the Institute of Museum and Library Services for providing support to make this project possible.

Community colleges are vital engines of our higher education system, with special emphasis on serving underrepresented minorities, low-income students, first-generation college students, new Americans, and other diverse populations. To continue evolving in support of their students, community college libraries need strategic intelligence about how to adapt their services.

The vast majority of research on how to adapt library services to support new priorities has been conducted at four year colleges and universities. And, the definitions of student success used in these projects have often derived from higher education institutions, state boards of education, and the federal government, thus omitting the perspective of the student in what defines success. This project will take an important step to address these imbalances.

In this project, we will explore (1) how student success can be defined in a way that is inclusive of both policy priorities and students’ own needs, and (2) what services academic libraries can offer to most effectively help students attain success.

Ithaka S+R will publish two public research reports in the course of this project: one on community college student perspectives, practices, and needs broadly, and a second providing specific assessments of the library service offerings that are developed in the course of this project. We will also publish a toolkit that can be further adopted by both community colleges and community college systems to test these service concepts themselves or develop and assess additional service concepts specifically relevant to their populations.

Ultimately, this project will strengthen the position of the community college library, as an anchor in its campus community, to collaborate more effectively with its partners and increase its contributions to the success of its students.

Roger Schonfeld and I are joined by Dr. Braddlee from Northern Virginia Community College in leading this project, and we will be partnering with Jean Amaral from the Borough of Manhattan Community College, Katie DeRusso from Monroe Community College, Christie Flynn from Pierce College District, Jeanne Galvin from Queensboro Community College, Michael Miller from Bronx Community College, and Steven Ovadia from LaGuardia Community College. We look forward to engaging the academic library and higher education community on this project as our work proceeds over the next year and a half.


About IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services RE-96-17-0113-17.