Strengths-Based Approaches in Academic Libraries

Authors: Chelsea Heinbach, Rosan Mitola, and Erin Rinto

Price: $35

Expected: January 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63400-095-6

Students come to universities with identities, knowledge, and lived experiences that contribute to their success. They offer unique viewpoints and enrich the spaces they inhabit through their differences. However, educators often default to deficit thinking, an unintentionally harmful mindset that attempts to support students by attempting to “fix” perceived shortcomings in student experiences. Strengths-based Approaches in Academic Libraries combats this deficit mindset and highlights how a strengths-based educational model can transform the work of academic librarians.

This book weaves theory and practice to provide a comprehensive introduction to strengths-based education.  A discussion of pedagogies that recognize student strengths such as critical pedagogy, feminist pedagogy, and funds of knowledge is followed by an exploration of practical application in library classrooms, resources, and spaces. Shifting to this approach is especially crucial for educators working with students with marginalized identities, who have likely battled the deficit mindset throughout their education.

Strengths-based Approaches in Academic Libraries serves as a guide for librarians interested in the challenging but necessary work of reconceptualizing the academic library to honor the knowledge, experiences, and strengths our students bring to the university community.

Chelsea Heinbach is a teaching and learning librarian at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she works to create meaningful learning experiences for undergraduate students. Chelsea is a co-founder and editor of The Librarian Parlor (#libparlor), a community for librarians interested in conducting research. Her research interests include critical pedagogy, strengths-based approaches to students, and the intersection between civic engagement and information literacy education.

Rosan Mitola is an outreach librarian for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she designs and creates co-curricular educational experiences. She oversees the Mason Undergraduate Peer Research Coach Program that contributes to student success through outreach and peer-assisted learning in library instruction. Her primary research interests include peer-to-peer learning and co-curricular student engagement. She received an MLIS from San José State University and a BA in History from University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Erin Rinto is the learning and research librarian at the University of Cincinnati.  She received an MLS and an MA in History from Indiana University Bloomington and a BA in History from Wittenberg University.  Her primary research interests include information literacy instruction and assessment in first year writing courses, peer-assisted learning, and the integration of high impact practices into library services.