Navigating the landscape of higher education takes more than just attending classes, passing courses, and graduating. It requires a set of skills known as “college fluency,” or the knowledge and a corresponding set of abilities that enable students and staff to effectively locate and use relevant college services, programs, and resources. College fluency, in short, can help students successfully engage with and self-advocate within the culture and bureaucracy of higher education institutions to achieve their goals.[1] Libraries can play a pivotal role in helping fluency flourish by training their employees, as well as faculty and staff members across their institution, to adapt to the needs of students in an ever-changing world.[2] As students and staff grapple with challenges beyond the syllabus, such as staff turnover to the complications of hybrid schedules, the need for college fluency becomes even more evident.

College fluency can help students successfully engage with and self-advocate within the culture and bureaucracy of higher education institutions to achieve their goals.

To further examine and develop effective strategies to foster college fluency, the Borough of Manhattan Community College Library (BMCC) and Ithaka S+R have partnered on the College Fluency Capacity Building initiative with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).[3] Looking specifically at the development of college fluency services in community colleges across the US, this initiative takes a deep dive into the nuances of programming aimed at increasing librarians’ own college fluency and that of their students. As part of this project, we are conducting case studies to investigate how institutions are currently addressing college fluency and to identify strategies to better enable academic librarians and library workers to equip their students with skills to successfully navigate institutional resources and services.

The first case study from this research initiative examines Sinclair Community College in Ohio, a pioneer in developing college fluency with faculty and staff. At Sinclair, librarians and library staff collaborate with academic and student affairs departments on campus to provide students with access to the full suite of resources available throughout the institution. Further, their Student Success Librarian serves as a link across different departments, ensuring that faculty and staff members are well-prepared to assist students with non-curricular needs. Most importantly this librarian collaborates with multiple departments to improve awareness of student services, along with facilitating the incorporation of library resources into the work of various faculty and staff members. This librarian takes proactive steps to stay updated on campus developments and emerging student needs, serving as a primary point of contact and a reliable resource for students, staff, and faculty seeking guidance or information regarding non-curricular resources.

Key Takeaways

  • Dedicate a staff member, such as a student success librarian, to forge and leverage personal relationships between staff in different departments, developing and enhancing college fluency initiatives and supporting student navigation of college services and programs.
  • Establish a consistent presence in student spaces to increase staff visibility, build trust, and surface students’ non-curricular needs. Informal conversations with students in these settings initiated by library faculty and staff play an important role in facilitating connections and providing necessary support.
  • Provide continuous training to equip faculty and staff with knowledge about available resources in order to create a campus environment that supports student success and encourages connections across departments.
  • Foster collective responsibility among college faculty and staff guided by administrative leadership to drive a cultural shift supporting students’ college fluency.
  • Continue hybrid library programming and services, developed initially in response to COVID-19, to sustain efforts in fostering college fluency.


Institutional Characteristics

To investigate the factors that facilitate faculty, staff, and student development of college fluency, we are currently conducting a series of qualitative case studies about existing formalized sources of support led by librarians. Sinclair Community College was selected first because it employs a dedicated Student Success Librarian focused on collaborating with other academic departments and, more importantly, student affairs. Sinclair, a large public institution with a student body exceeding 30,000, has three locations throughout Southwestern Ohio.[4] In fall 2022, this community college had an enrollment of 17,591 undergraduate students (9,633 women and 7,958 men). The majority of students (81 percent) were enrolled part-time. Sixty-five percent of students are White, 15 percent Black or African American, 5 percent Hispanic, 5 percent two or more races, 2 percent Asian, 1 percent American Indian or Alaska Native, and 5 percent unknown. Additionally, 37 percent of students were enrolled exclusively in distance education, while 20 percent were engaged in some form of distance education.[5]

Sinclair Community College offers a comprehensive array of over 300 degree and certificate programs, catering to diverse academic interests and addressing the high-demand specialized and technical needs of the Dayton region. In Fall 2022, Sinclair had 905 full-time staff members, including nine full-time librarians and library technicians.[6][7] Sinclair has been consistently honored with distinguished national and state awards, including the notable 2023 Leah Meyer Austin Award from Achieving the Dream, recognizing the institution for its enduring achievements in fostering student success.[8]

We explored two Sinclair Community College Library initiatives developed by their Student Success Librarian to promote college fluency:

  1. Sinclair 101: Sinclair 101 is designed for college staff, with optional inclusion for faculty members, to enhance their awareness of the available resources on campus. The initiative comprises two monthly sessions: a question and answer session where a specific department describes its services, and a guided tour provided by a representative from departments with noteworthy facilities. This program aims to familiarize faculty and staff with various campus offerings, improve their understanding of specific roles, and foster a more informed and engaged college community in order to build their own college fluency as well as that of students. Since its inception in June 2019, Sinclair 101 has offered 70+ programs, including 42 question-and-answer sessions, and 25 campus tours.
  2. Librarian on Location: Seeking to establish meaningful connections with students who might not typically visit the library, designated librarians proactively engage with students in the sites they frequent and collaborate with other departments and services, such as the African American Male Initiative (AAMI),[9] office of international education, and the American sign language lab. Librarian on Location was initiated in Fall 2017 with the goal of facilitating links between students and the relevant information they seek. As of June 2023, this program had offered over 600 sessions, each lasting approximately one to two hours, in areas outside the library where students commonly gather. During these sessions, 1,479 students interacted with the program, ranging from one-time questions to weekly visits. Librarians addressed 470 reference questions and 275 student success inquiries over roughly 260 hours of engaging with students. While students’ questions sometimes involve library-related topics, a substantial portion is focused on non-curricular topics that require staff and students to connect with other departments and services. The emphasis of this program is to bring the library into spaces where students congregate and expand the network of support and resources available to students beyond the confines of the library’s traditional, curricular offerings.


In order to acquire comprehensive insights into effective models and obstacles in supporting students navigating college at Sinclair, we conducted interviews with seven Sinclair staff members. These interviews delved into the models initiated and led by the library, challenges and opportunities encountered, other campus services dedicated to college fluency, and measures of success or impact employed. We used snowball sampling to identify potential interviewees, with a librarian liaison providing their contact information. BMCC and Ithaka S+R conducted the interviews virtually via Zoom and Webex and recorded the sessions with the interviewees’ consent. Each interview session lasted approximately one hour. Subsequently, a member of the research team cleaned interview transcripts automatically generated by the web meeting software using the session recordings. Two analysts worked collaboratively to analyze the interview transcripts, undertaking a comprehensive open-coding process to create a thematic codebook. Subsequently, they conducted a thematic analysis using NVivo to analyze interview transcripts and report case study findings.

Sample Characteristics

The IRB-approved study involved seven participants from Sinclair who represented a wide range of roles, including library leaders, student affairs staff, and student success, reference, and instruction librarians. Interviewees’ work experience at Sinclair ranged from a few months to 16 years. Our sample predominantly represents staff members who have been at Sinclair longer than five years, offering insights grounded in years of practice and institutional familiarity.

College Fluency Goals: “Find the need and endeavor to meet it”

Sinclair Community College’s culture is deeply rooted in their founder’s motto as one interviewee quoted: “find the need and endeavor to meet it.” This was exemplified further throughout our interviews with key stakeholders who informed us about the goals of Sinclair’s college fluency programs and how they are received and implemented. This section delves into the integral components of those programs and sheds light on the proactive measures Sinclair has taken to enhance student support and college navigation, addressing the strategies the college employed to assist students in navigating the complexities of college bureaucracy, the importance of building relationships, and efforts to be inclusive.

Connect with Student Spaces

The main goal of Sinclair’s college fluency programs is to help their students effectively navigate college to successfully reach their goals. Since some students may be hesitant to seek help for their questions or prefer to find information on their own, interviewees discussed how they try to initiate the support process by engaging students in conversation to “find the need.” The Librarian on Location program enables librarians to consistently be present in student spaces, be visible and accessible, connect with students who wouldn’t otherwise come to the library, and provide them with the information they need. As one reference and instruction librarian described,

One of the things I found fascinating throughout my time with this, and I want to preface this with not all the students, but a significant number of students, I was noticing, would wait for me to come to that space before seeking out help, even if it would be a week in between.

This service is not limited to library-related resources and takes a holistic approach to students’ needs. To ensure students get targeted support for their curricular and non-curricular needs, library staff connect students to relevant departments, such as, financial aid, Welcome Center, and academic advising, and help them to navigate the campus by providing them with printed campus maps, teaching them how to use its online version, and physically walking them to the resources when possible. Additionally, it is crucial for staff to prioritize building trust and “being human” with students to cultivate effective relationships that encourage student self-advocacy and help-seeking behaviors.

The main goal of Sinclair’s college fluency programs is to help their students effectively navigate college to successfully reach their goals.

Build Relationships Across Silos

Faculty and staff-focused resources such as Sinclair 101 provide staff with opportunities to familiarize themselves with college resources, learn effective methods for navigating the college environment, and establish connections with other staff and departments. Building relationships with other staff enables them to reach out to their network and ask questions when needed. For example, a library leader described the benefits of connecting with other departments:

Those groups I talked about before with the student success groups, the Career Communities, those helped us a lot because each of the librarians knew someone they could ask. You could cut through the red tape. You could pick up the phone and call the person in financial aid and say, ‘You know, what is the deadline for this?’ Or, ‘This doesn’t sound right. Am I understanding this correctly? And can we help this student?’

Relationship-building across different departments equips faculty and staff members to better help students access resources and contribute to their overall success. The Student Success Librarian described the goal of Sinclair 101, explaining, “we see this Sinclair 101 role as trying to help make sure that when those knocks [on faculty doors] happen, students are referred as directly as possible,” adding, “for me, it really is that any student can ask a question anywhere on campus and get a reasonable first answer.”

“It really is that any student can ask a question anywhere on campus and get a reasonable first answer.”

Be Inclusive

At the heart of college fluency programs are efforts to demystify higher education culture, and to create a welcoming environment on campus. Several of the interviews emphasized the challenges faced by students who often felt out of place on campus or did not receive much support from both professors and other staff members. One interviewee highlighted the development of the Sexuality and Gender Equity Committee (SAGE), and how SAGE has played a major role in establishing a safe space on campus for students and staff to grow and learn from one another:

So, I do think that, you know, being a welcoming and inclusive environment is going to, for all of our students, and you know respecting things like pronouns or, you know, name changes goes a long way in supporting student success. And, you know, acknowledging the fact that there are issues in the larger world that are impacting our students is going to impact their success on campus. You know, it might impact whether they show up for class that day, and I think if they know that they have people there who support them, it goes a long way to, you know, even if they’re not getting the highest grade in the class, sometimes having that supportive person there is the difference between passing and failing or retention and dropping out.

Interviews also gleaned information on other initiatives that address college fluency among other academic needs that served specific student populations, such as students of color. Looking closer at student retention rates revealed a racial and gender disparity for students who dropped out: Black men were more likely to drop out in comparison to any other demographic on campus. This disparity matches national trends the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s 2022 report on retention rates for public two-year institutions shows that Black students regardless of gender had the lowest retention rate at 53 percent, while male students, regardless of race, had a retention rate of 60 percent.[10] These statistics have encouraged other colleges like Sinclair to try to find a solution to increase retention and graduation rates for their Black male students. Black male students at Sinclair who had dropped out maintained generally decent GPAs, highlighting that there were larger underlying issues on campus that were not being addressed.

To better understand the disparity, Sinclair’s former chief diversity officer created a focus group of approximately 10 Black male students. Their feedback unveiled the challenges they faced on a daily basis. This included a lack of support from professors, feelings of neglect, feeling out of place, too few professors who looked like them, and feeling like a burden when attempting to ask for help or assistance. These insights helped pave the way for the African American Male Initiative (AAMI) program that began in 2015 to focus on improving the experience of Black male students on campus. With financial support from the institution, the AAMI program received a dedicated office space and staff to support these students. With staff encouragement, students were able to find a supportive and comfortable environment on campus. Here, AAMI became one of the first spaces for Librarian on Location (LoL), to reach a population of students who previously did not feel supported by student services and programming.

The African American Male Initiative became one of the first spaces for Librarian on Location to reach a population of students who previously did not feel supported by student services and programming.

Due to the impact of the pandemic on the lives of students and faculty members, the AAMI program was temporarily suspended in 2021 and recently resumed in 2023, after our interview phase was completed. One interviewee, a former AAMI leader, highlighted the value of providing new AAMI team members with manuals and documentation, especially given the staff changes following the initiative’s temporary closure. The comprehensive manual, developed by this interviewee over three years (2018 to 2021), offered insights into the program’s effective pre-pandemic operations. Looking ahead, an interviewee closely involved with AAMI said there have been conversations about starting a similar program focused on other marginalized groups on campus.

Challenges Disrupting Success: “I don’t know who’s here anymore.”

Sinclair also faced challenges that affected the success of its college fluency programs. Drawing from interviewees’ experiences, it was evident that many faced similar, if not the same, obstacles. These included finding ways to better engage students, managing lost connections with faculty, and also the impact of COVID-19. Here we highlight the impact of these challenges on members of the Sinclair community.

Effectively Engaging Students

It’s challenging to capture the attention of students when they have several responsibilities beyond their academic commitments. Engaging students and making sure they have the information they need to be successful is complicated by their personal and professional obligations, such as taking care of family and children, part-time or full-time employment, mental or physical health challenges, among other non-curricular needs. Many students may also find navigating college difficult due to language barriers, challenges with computer literacy, or the complications and confusion around returning to college after a long period of time. As one interviewee explained, “More of our students are taking college credit in high school. More of our students are incarcerated. How do we reach that? We’re really, pretty much cut off from them. It’s a new set of problems.” It is inherently challenging to meet students where they are when there are many different types of students and student needs.

“More of our students are taking college credit in high school. More of our students are incarcerated. How do we reach that? We’re really, pretty much cut off from them. It’s a new set of problems.”

It is imperative that faculty and staff seek to engage with students in ways that build a sense of trust and belonging. As one library employee explained, “Librarians are out there making themselves visible in places where students are. It gives students someone they know that they can trust and ask questions, even if it’s not specifically related to the library. Or even if it is connected to the library. I think that’s been the value in it.”

With community and commuter colleges, there is also the salient challenge of keeping and engaging with students and staff on campus beyond their time in the classroom compared to a more residential college. As one interviewee noted,

But the tricky part right now is, how do you get the students to show up, and how do you make sure that they are comprehending what they’re hearing, are really like the big things. So I don’t know if it’s more, we need to host more things. I think it’s more, how do we get the students to come to what’s already being offered, and make sure that comprehension is happening.

The library’s informal academic environment enables it to be a center for college fluency services and programs across campus. Many of the interviewees from the library emphasized that they are more apt to engage with confused students or students in crisis when those students meet together, study, or complete other tasks in physical library locations. From these interactions, library staff get a clear understanding of what students and faculty need outside of the library. And these needs are actualized in programs like Librarian on Location and Sinclair 101, to effectively reach a larger audience that may not initially know what the library or larger institution can offer.

Lost Connections with Faculty

For interviewees across departments, engaging with other faculty and staff tended to prove more difficult than engaging with students. This was clear especially given how frequently college information changes, and their many responsibilities both inside and outside the classroom. It is more effective for everyone on campus to be involved in college fluency in some capacity, and it is especially important for teaching faculty as they most often directly interact with students. Yet, too often, reaching faculty proves challenging. As one interviewee described, in their experience, some faculty members are aware of the services available on campus and inform their students about them. Meanwhile, there are other faculty members that only focus on teaching their classes, and don’t have a strong interest in participating in activities on campus. Another explained,

It’s our seasoned employees who think they don’t need to know. The seasoned employees that do attend [Sinclair 101], especially when we’re introducing a new program that the college is offering…we have never gotten a comment that this was a waste of my time. The comments from our seasoned employees are ‘I never knew, I never knew, it’s like a whole world was opened up to me.’

In some cases, interviewees noted that both teaching faculty and librarians were involved in Career Communities for students, or currently act as advisors to student clubs and organizations. Despite these collaborative efforts, a few interviewees briefly described encountering challenges with collaboration, especially with interacting with faculty towards a shared goal:

I tried to explain [to fellow staff members] what [students] need, so they can help students. And some of them were helpful and some of them were not, unfortunately. They were kind of a little rude saying, ‘I know how to do my job, you don’t need to tell me how to do my job.’ We weren’t doing that. We were just explaining because of the language failure.

The above interaction highlights the importance of establishing connections with fellow staff members, and how these connections contribute to the sustainability of these programs. Many of the interviewees suggested that a main key to the success of these programs is to maintain patience. With the shared goal of helping students, faculty and staff need to be patient with the students themselves, as well as with technology, with life situations, and with each other.

Impacts of the Pandemic

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic affected and disrupted every aspect of Sinclair’s fluency programs, significantly impacting their delivery. Financial, familial, and health constraints forced students to leave school. Additionally, many employees either retired or now work remotely and have not returned to campus. One former employee described a frustrating instance where they helped a student on the verge of tears who was trying to advocate for herself but could not get in contact with the right personnel:

And I called the director, or I emailed her. And I said, this student needs a paper signed and she cannot, nobody’s answering her calls. She emailed somebody else that emailed me back and said, you know, okay, what’s, what’s the paper? I scanned the paper and sent it to her. And they signed it and sent it back to me, and I gave it to the student. But why are you working from home, but you’re not answering your emails? You don’t answer calls…I mean, the students are still, still need to be served, and so, if you don’t want to open your office and you don’t, then what are we doing to the students? You know, it’s easy. They can go somewhere else.

There were some benefits to transitioning some programs to Zoom, as more staff members were able to participate in Zoom sessions and could join remotely. However, some programs, like Librarian on Location, were attempted remotely but proved to be unsuccessful. The pandemic also severed long-term relationships at the college, as staff retired or changed roles. High turnover during the pandemic prevented the development of meaningful connections among staff members and reduced the support available for students.

Understanding the Path to Success: “Even the facilities people have a role in this.”

On the journey to improve college fluency, Sinclair Community College has made remarkable advancements in implementing effective programs aimed at equipping students and staff with the skills to navigate and utilize college services, programs, and resources, overcoming challenges on the path toward cultivating a culture of college fluency. From communication strategies to administrative collaboration and efforts in defining and measuring success, Sinclair’s commitment to fostering college fluency reflects an evolving and process-oriented effort to empower students on their academic journey.

Communication Across Services

One of the most important components of a successful college fluency program is communication. Interviewees reported that students are often overwhelmed by the number of emails they receive a day, and texting is a more effective mode of communication. Still, having faculty and staff available to answer questions by phone has also been appreciated by students and staff.

When asked about their level of confidence in their own ability, as well as that of their coworkers to help students navigate campus, some interviewees were not very confident, simply due to how new they were to working at Sinclair. However, the majority of people expressed that they were very comfortable answering questions, and if they did not have the answer, they were confident that they could find the answer for a student.

Sinclair librarians have a Microsoft Teams group chat where staff provide updates and ask questions. As one interviewee described, “So, if you get stumped by a question, you can just put it on Teams. And whoever is logged in can help you with it.” Some interviewees felt confident in their colleagues, but others noted that while they previously would have felt very confident in their colleagues, they are currently less so due to turnover and retirements. Interviewees shared that, especially before the pandemic, they were very comfortable in directing students to their own professional and personal contacts in other departments on campus for more specialized help. Now many of those connections have been lost and need to be rekindled. Still, using paper maps and restructuring the Welcome Center has ensured a reliable point of contact to send students. One interviewee also noted that their office can sometimes be a little too helpful, making the students wait until an answer is found:

And so we’ve got some very committed staff. Sometimes to the point that if they don’t have an answer, they’ll [the students will] be like, “That’s okay.” And we’re like, wait, let me call for you. And sometimes I feel like students might get held captive. But that’s part of our job, is that we like having answers, so sometimes we might even be too helpful. But I’d say, quite good, not only for librarians but also like, acquisitions and circulation staff. They’re all very like librarian-minded in that way, that they’re not gonna quit until they have an answer.

In terms of opportunities, interviewees highlighted that through college fluency programs, they made students aware of the study abroad programs, STEM initiatives, on-campus clubs, employment opportunities on campus, daycares, and ESL classes. Many also indicated that they have grown accustomed to noticing when a student is lost, seemingly confused, or nervous and that they don’t shy away from offering assistance before being asked.

Central Contact Point

The majority of interviewees highlighted how helpful it was to have a Student Success Librarian, a key figure in establishing Sinclair’s college fluency programs, as the primary contact person when they were not sure how to guide students. One interviewee characterized this primary contact as a bridge between academic and student affairs:

With [the Student Success Librarian] being connected to the non-academic offices, it helps us know what’s going on. She keeps on top of that. She’s a point person to ask. You know any of us could pick up a phone or send an email to find out. But a lot of times [she] just has that knowledge, and so she’s a go-to resource for us.

A centralized student support system is an important part of Sinclair’s efforts to connect students to the support they need, especially for those in the early stages of registration. Many interviewees cited the Welcome Center as a useful “cross-reference” resource to address their questions or refer students when necessary. The interviewees discussed having more trust in the experts at the Welcome Center than the university website and directory, which tend to be out-of-date. As one interviewee emphasized,

And so the beauty of the building 10 convenience is, we say, ‘go to the welcome desk in building 10,’ because they are, from my understanding, trained to be that like, cross-reference person. And so they’re on the first floor at the front door in a pretty visible, welcoming place. And so it’s, like, I feel happy and confident referring them there because I know that person knows way more than I do, and so often we will say, ‘Oh, you have questions about any of that? Go to them, and then they will send you on your way up.’

This reliance on a centralized support system reflects Sinclair’s commitment to facilitating students’ navigation of college services and programs. While single stops may prove effective when they genuinely serve as comprehensive sources of information, additional evidence is required to determine their impact on enhancing college fluency.

Administrative Support Leads to Collective Responsibility

Interviewees highlighted multiple instances when different departments at Sinclair get connected and collaborate, which includes presenting in classrooms, moderating discussion panels, collaborating on departmental tasks, and creating informative videos for introducing departments and staff members. One of the college fluency programs, Librarian on Location, has expanded to various offices and departments, such as the African American Male Initiative (AAMI) office, office of international education, American Sign Language lab, and the health sciences building, and continues to grow.

As conveyed in almost every interview, Sinclair Community College’s leadership is dedicated to the success of students across campus. Helping staff and therefore helping students is one of the highest priorities. One library employee explained that “our president of the college uses the phrase, ‘No closed doors,’ and so he uses it as any student who essentially knocks on any door on campus should be able to get directed correctly without bumping a whole bunch of times of like oh, well, I think that person, maybe that person, maybe that person.” At Sinclair, there is a shared responsibility to minimize as much bounce back as possible. Another interviewee explained that “even the facilities people have a role in this. If you’re out mowing the grass, and you see a lost student, then you get off the mower and you go ask the student [if they need] help. And that’s what the facilities people did.”

However, there were some indications that not all of those in leadership fully support the college fluency programs on campus. One interviewee mentioned that a leader rejected ideas proposed that would help with the success of some of the college fluency programs. “You know, there are some barriers if your superior is not 100 percent with you on what you want to do, the program is not going to be a success.” This interviewee emphasized that while having the support of the institution is invaluable, having the support of your direct supervisors is also important. Of course, there are instances when leadership will not be on board, but there should be a sense of alignment across management to help their staff help students in the most efficient ways possible.

Defining and Measuring Success

When we asked the interviewees about how they define and measure success for their college fluency programs, it became evident that success is multi-faceted, and a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures are required to assess the impact of the programs on students and the broader campus community. There were no formalized program success measures at Sinclair, and each program is assessed differently. One interviewee described how success was initially an experimental concept before the COVID-19 pandemic, but as the programs progressed, success was measured by the program’s impact on students. She explained, “Because even if it’s just one student shows up for support, Ithink it makes a difference, especially right now. I think that goals are something we will probably revisit if things can start to kind of stabilize.”

At the institutional level, success was defined as helping students achieve their academic goals and post-graduation outcomes. As one interviewee articulated,

Well, I think we defined success here at the college by helping a student complete in whatever form that is, right? Whether that is earning a credential, a degree, or a certificate, whether that is helping them transfer to a four-year Institution. You should, you know, that’s how, that’s how we as a college measure it. Um, I do think Sinclair has been very successful in helping the employees who choose to engage, and that’s key. Um, because they’re just going to know more about how to help their students.

Building relationships and trust with students and getting more involved with the wider campus community were considered crucial components for success: “It wasn’t like we were just these nebulous strangers. It wasn’t like we’re the people giving them their grades, but we’re there and we were becoming a steady presence in a lot of spaces.” One college fluency program, Librarian on Location, was considered successful based on informal validation, such as positive feedback from faculty and staff and awards granted to librarians:

We haven’t really done anything formalized, but then I’ll get feedback from people saying, ‘Oh, [the Student Success Librarian] was so helpful,’ or ‘[she] helped one of my students,’ or, ‘the students really love it when this librarian comes to spend an hour with them each week.’ So, I’ve gotten feedback that way from staff and faculty. [The Student Success Librarian] won, like, an employee award. So, it’s validated in those ways.

The success of Sinclair 101, another college fluency program, was measured through participant feedback, with an emphasis on whether the information provided was deemed helpful in assisting students. Moreover, the expansion of Sinclair 101 and the collaborative efforts across different departments demonstrated the program’s positive outcomes. Some interviewees also believed that the program’s positive impacts such as contributing to cultural changes on campus and increasing opportunities for staff involvement, were some indicators of the program’s success.


Navigating college and accessing resources that address holistic needs is crucial for students as it lays the foundation for their academic and personal success. Academic libraries are already one of the primary sources of curricular information, and these libraries often also provide students with a diverse range of non-curricular information about services provided by different campus units and contribute to enhancing their overall college fluency. Conducting this case study enabled us to develop a deeper understanding of what approaches current adopters of college fluency are employing to improve students’ navigational skills at Sinclair Community College and what the future of service provision for other institutions might resemble. We believe that a broad set of audiences will be able to use and benefit from the findings of this project.

To that end, it is important for faculty and staff in different roles to support their own and each other’s college fluency to create a shared institutional knowledge and multifaceted support system for students. We look forward to combining Sinclair Community College’s findings with those from our other upcoming case studies and sharing strategies to help even more institutions expand their ability to support their faculty, staff, and students’ college fluency toward student and institutional success.


  1. Melissa Blankstein and Jean Amaral, “College Fluency Capacity Building,” Ithaka S+R, 8 December 2022,
  2. Christine Wolf-Eisenberg, “The Case for Academic Libraries and ‘College Fluency,’” Ithaka S+R, 11 February 2020,
  3. For more information on this IMLS-funded project [RE-252364-OLS-22] visit:“What Is College Fluency? – College Fluency Capacity Building,” accessed 26 January 2024,
  4. At the time of case study interviews, Sinclair Community College had five campuses, two of which have since been closed.
  5. Demographic information sourced from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Fall 2022 data, accessed 5 April 2024,
  6. Ibid.
  7. Sinclair Community College also has 1,037 part-time staff, including 1 part-time library technician, in addition to their full-time staff.
  8. “Achieving the Dream Awards Highest Honor to Sinclair Community College for Sustained Student Success Results,” Sinclair Community College, accessed 15 December 2023,
  9. “African American Male Initiative (AAMI),” Sinclair Community College,
  10. National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, “Persistence and Retention Fall 2020 Beginning Postsecondary Student Cohort,” June 2022,