Spanning the College Readiness Gap | Editorial

Too many teens arrive at college unprepared to do the work ahead. From research savvy to life skills, college readiness needs to be addressed through concerted effort by educators and librarians.


I have always thought of libraries as bridges that carry people of all ages from one life experience to the next, from one need answered to the next question not yet asked. And, recently, I’ve been particularly interested in the gaps that need spanning as kids graduate from high school and head to college. Librarians should be stepping up to help prepare kids for the challenges they will face in that very important transition.

The need is real and dovetails with what we at SLJ have been hearing from practitioners in the field. Each year, in tandem with our colleagues at sister publication Library Journal, we hold a series of advisory board calls to help tap the zeitgeist and discover areas for more editorial coverage. Over 2014, a sense of urgency was reiterated by leaders from all library types. Too many teens arrive at college unprepared to do the work ahead. From research savvy to life skills, readiness needs to be addressed through concerted effort by educators and librarians in institutions on both sides of the divide.

Meanwhile, in other SLJ news

Our reviews team is hard at work, thinking of ways to make each review, and section as a whole, work better for you. In this issue, you’ll see a new element at the end of each review: a verdict. These brief “bottom line” statements—already in use since 2009 by sister publication Library Journal—are designed to zero in on the key factors of a particular title to aid in making a purchase decision. In addition to our internal evaluation around the use of verdicts, we tapped user feedback, which included responses from a 2014 focus group that strongly supported the change.

“It’s a perennial truth: budgets are tight and librarians are busy. We want our reviews to be useful and effective in helping librarians make collection development decisions,” says SLJ reviews editor Kiera Parrott. “The verdicts are a natural complement to our reviews, which both summarize and critically evaluate each title. They cut to the chase and focus on what librarians really want to know: should I buy this book or not? If we can help make their jobs just a bit easier, a bit faster, that’s what we are here to do.”

We hope our verdicts do just that. Please let us know what you think.

In response, SLJ executive editor Kathy Ishizuka decided to help librarians get engaged in more actively building this particular bridge. Meet “College Ready,” a new column by contributing editor Lauren Barack. It’s right on time, too. The first (“College Prep via Pinterest”) looks at how high school librarians are turning to social media to help kids think ahead about college. Future columns will cover the arena, responding to needs that you, our readers, express, and issues emerging from the field.

Readiness was top of mind for me when President Barack Obama presented an ambitious expansion of public education last month, with his America’s College Promise proposal. It recasts community colleges as a much-needed extension of high school for an estimated nine million students, providing matching grants that would greatly decrease the cost of the first two years of higher education. I was excited by the opportunity that such a sweeping measure could bring to our graduating seniors. Obama’s initiative is worth serious consideration. It also begs the question of how librarians should be incorporated in the plan to help support the grantees’ success. Let’s not be quiet about what we can bring to the program.

Nevertheless, the readiness gap will persist if we don’t go right at it. Please share your strategies and tell us what you need so we can help you better prepare your students.



Rebecca T. Miller Editor-in-Chief

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