Bring “Helicopter Parents” In For A Landing @ Your Library

Today’s CHE provides a link to a Survey of Current College Parent Experiences (PDF), which, among other things, tells us that:

“Of the 839 parents surveyed, 74 percent communicated with their student two or three times a week and one in three did so at least once a day.”

This is consistent with what our Student Success people tell us here at Kansas and is one the the reasons why KU is one of the many institutions to have created a Parents’ Association, which begs the question: what are libraries doing for parents?

I first started to think about the significance of parent involvement a few years ago when the NSO staff at Washington State took the library off the standard summer orientation tour. I didn’t hear complaints about this from incoming students, but I did hear complaints from their parents who, for some odd reason, wanted their students to be oriented to academic resources as well as to social opportunities. That feedback helped with later NSO discussions. Here at Kansas, we have a very successful NSO workshop program, but the Parents’ Association is new and we’ll have to work to get involved. This would dovetail nicely with some development activities that we’ve pursued with parents of current students in partnership with the KU Endowment.

As the oft-cited-this-week Susan Gibbons mentioned in her presentation at the Taiga Forum, there is another dimension to “helicopter parenting,” as well. Her research showed that undergraduates are likely to consult parents during the research process and she concluded that effective ILI programming for parents could help direct their children back toward library resources and services during one of those weekly (or daily) phone calls.

So, another audience for our services and another opportunity to partner with our colleagues in Student Affairs!

2 thoughts on “Bring “Helicopter Parents” In For A Landing @ Your Library”

  1. Scott, I had connected the same dots between the item in the Chronicle and the information from the Blended Librarian webcast that students consult their parents on research assignments (when I was in college, I think I only consulted my parents about when they were sending me more money. But I digress.).

    I would love to reach out more to parents, and at the small liberal arts college where I work, I bet it would have a good chance of producing some positive results.

    I hope that others who have tried “parental outreach” will tell us about their efforts here in the comments.

  2. We staff a booth during our freshman orientation session where we see mostly parents. Students who arrive very early in the morning may have time to visit the various booths sponsored by departments and clubs, but most do not finish their first day activities before their first group session begins.

    Knowing we’re dealing with parents, we’ve developed handouts and displays that answer their common questions–and that they will hopefully pass on to their students.

    Common questions: How will my student learn about the library? Can my student get a job in the library? Where can my student study? AND THE BIG ONE: What can I access from home? While many of our resources are restricted to current students, faculty and staff, we do provide a short list of open resources so parents will feel like they are getting their money’s worth. This is also a great opportunity to remind them of the wealth of resources their public library provides.

    Finally, we also have a display of pictures of group study rooms and new computer equipment that was funded by the Parents’ Fund (a Development Office program that distributes money around campus). So at least we have a hint of our development possibilities (i.e. you can give money to someone other than the Athletics Dept)

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