Examining the Case of an Academic Library’s Student-Focused, Patron-Satisfaction Approach to Organizational Transformation for Student Retention

Michelle Currier, Cori Wilhelm


This article serves as a case study of an academic library’s student-focused management decisions, including the concept of relationship-marketing- and reputation-management in relation to their perceived impact on student retention.

After realizing the library had developed a negative reputation, the director of SUNY Canton’s Southworth Library integrated a multi-pronged strategic plan to improve the perceived reputation of the library while cultivating student loyalty. The library had to make the firm decision on what it determined to be “about,” and whether what the library was “about” was its collections - the traditional library-centric identity - or about student success. Southworth Library Learning Commons had to make a collective determination to reject tradition and choose the latter. That meant altering course in terms of collection activities, redefining priorities and making non-traditional choices. The article illustrates strategies and actions that can be similarly replicated as part of a student-focused strategic plan. More broadly, other academic libraries and higher education institutions should consider the relationship-marketing approach in decision making and sustainability planning.


retention; student satisfaction; change management

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American library Association Texas Digital Library