This Brainstorm Could Be Good For You

Though I suspect it didn’t have the desired outcome, I’m still glad I made the effort to expose ACRLog readers to some faculty blogs in parts one and two of the Carnival of the Professoriate. I’d still like to think that academic librarians can benefit from occasional reading of faculty blogs. But if faculty blogs, at least the ones I mentioned, fail to capture your attention or otherwise enlighten you then perhaps Brainstorm will be more to your liking.

I just started subscribing to this feed a short while ago as it’s a fairly new blog. It’s a group blog that includes some well recognized thought leaders in academia, a mix of professors and higher education analysts. In fact, if you regularly read the Chronicle of Higher Education Review section, then you’ll recognize the contributors. Their past essays have appeared in the Review, and now they are writing commentary for this Chronicle sponsored blog. So you can imagine that the conversations can provide some valuable insight into and perspectives on change in higher education.

Changes such as the growing first-year college dropout rate. Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory University, examines the issue in a recent post in which he considers the connection between reading and academic success. Bauelein writes “Statistics from the Department of Education make the correlation between reading for pleasure and academic achievement crystal clear (see this document, pp.50-55). The more kids read on their own—anything, that is, not just classics and books—the better they do in class.” There’s a real problem when 25% freshmen in 2005 reported doing no reading in their senior year of high school.

Though we may have no immediate solutions, as academic librarians we can’t help but think there might be things we could do to encourage reading in and outside of the classrom. Our libraries have collections of great leisure reading and the latest fiction. We offer bookclubs and book talks. Even inviting video games and game competitions, no doubt a factor in the decline of book reading (especially for males), in to the library could allow non-readers to potentially connect with books of value. In a time when academic libraries need to do all they can to promote retention, perhaps something as simple as helping to increase reading – something so central to the library’s existence – can allow us to play a more significant role in helping students achieve academic success.

So if faculty blogs weren’t to your taste, perhaps a little “Brainstorm” may be just the thing to get you to pay more attention to what’s happening in higher education.