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Recent trends in higher education highlight the value of intentionality in pedagogical approaches to civic learning. Student success and retention in the first year of college is particularly important in setting the foundation for the rest of the college experience, and evidence is mounting that First Year Learning Communities that are involved in civic and service learning projects tend to produce higher rates of retention and graduation. The Library can play a vital role in achieving co-curricular activities. This role may include creating, sponsoring and promoting intellectual, cultural, and social activities that emphasize library, classroom, campus, community, and civic connectivity, as well as developing, implementing, and channeling technologies that can showcase relevant resources and innovations. This requires, however, that librarians establish collaborations with key groups and actors involved in civic learning, and that libraries be willing to experiment with new ideas and technologies.

Discussion points will explore potential barriers and bridges for librarians to engage campus learning communities in developing co-curriculum activities and civic engagement projects. Examples might be strategies for working with Learning Community faculty and with Residential Life to reach students where they live; residential life programs may be involved in providing housing for Freshman Interest Groups by floor, for instance; libraries may be involved in grant-related activities such as NEA’s Big Read initiative to promote campus reading celebrations among student groups. This presentation and discussion will address the fundamental question of what libraries can do to define themselves as places for civic learning on college and university campuses.