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An Area Studies Pilot: Faculty Engagement, Public Space and Reference Service

By Charmaine Henriques
International Studies Librarian
Indiana University
Herman B Wells Library
Bloomington, Indiana

Introduction

Indiana University Bloomington (IUB) Libraries noticed a decrease in student (predominantly undergraduates) usage of its services and resources. This ongoing concern had been noted in the library literature and library panels/presentations. Administrators throughout the nation repeatedly surveyed students, put together focus groups and convened committees to discuss and find solutions to this phenomenon. These investigations unearthed recurring issues: students didn’t know how to navigate the
library or where and from who to get help. There was a segment of this population that either grew up without access to or did not make use of the library during primary and secondary school. For certain post secondary students, a college or university library will be the first library they ever encounter which can be an overwhelming experience, while to others that have already been enrolled for a few years the library is an unknown, unwelcoming place that they do not understand. Even so, where many saw a problem, a group of Area Studies librarians at IUB Libraries saw an opportunity.

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