SUNY Canton’s Southworth Library Becomes Evolutionary Case Study

SUNY Canton’s Southworth Library Learning Commons is the subject of a new article about evolving beyond books and collections.

Former Library Director Michelle L. Currier and current Director Cori Wilhelm recently published “Examining the Case of an Academic Library’s Student-Focused Patron-Satisfaction Approach to Organizational Transformation for Student Retention,” in the Library Leadership & Management Journal.

Southworth Library

SUNY Canton Southworth Library Learning Commons – The college’s library has become more than just a repository for books and has become a hub of campus life, according to new research by two SUNY Canton faculty members.

The article serves as a case study and chronicles the library’s transformation into a completely student-centered space. All of the growth was inspired by listening to and then responding to student patrons’ requests.

“In the span of a few years, we saw the library change from a minimally-used resource to a hub of campus life,” Currier said. “The article examines how the quality of student relationships with libraries factor as critical variables in overall satisfaction and retention.”

Students study on the top floor of Southworth Library.

Study Time at Southworth – Students study on the top floor of SUNY Canton’s Southworth Library Learning Commons during finals week.

In 2012, the Southworth Library Learning Commons earned a number one ranking among its peer technology sector institutions. In 2015, it was the highest rated library in the entire SUNY system. Both rankings were established through the SUNY system-wide Student Opinion Survey.

Wilhelm said that the library had undergone numerous overall renovations that made the building more attractive and modern during the past several years. The building’s staff also expanded hours to meet the schedules of the students.

Glenesha Harris uses a loaner laptop between book stacks.

Book Work – Glenesha Harris, a SUNY Canton Individual Studies major from the Bronx, uses one of the Southworth Library’s loaner laptops in a quite space among the book stacks.

“We’ve expanded our popular textbook loan program, which allows students access to textbooks that they may not be able to purchase,” Wilhelm said. “This past year, our Provost [Douglas M. Scheidt] provided additional support for the program, and we saw usage increase as a result.”


About SUNY Canton

SUNY Canton is Northern New York’s premier college for career-driven bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs. The college delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, health, management and public service and recently received number one rankings in library resources, library services and tutoring services in the SUNY Student Opinion Survey. The college’s faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 13 exclusively online degrees. The college’s 15 athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level and are conference members of the newly formed American Collegiate Athletic Association.

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