A Framework for Flourishing: Belonging, Confidence, and Connectedness in Academic Libraries

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Interdisciplinary Studies

First Advisor

Nicolas Witschi, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Susan Steuer, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michael J. Duffy IV, M.M., M.L.I.S.

Fourth Advisor

Paul Farber, Ph.D.


Academic libraries, belonging, confidence, connectedness, emerging adults, flourishing


Academic libraries support students to be successful in their lives post-graduation by adopting more human-centered missions, visions, and measurable outcomes Support and success in this sense means developing programmatic outcomes that bolster the concepts of human flourishing – potential and purpose – that drive students toward happiness in their personal, professional, and civic lives. Students are more than learners, they are whole persons with social, emotional, and life-long goals that go beyond classroom learning, and academic performance. Currently, academic libraries rely heavily on measuring the value they add to institutions of higher education (IOHE) through library initiatives for academic support, one of the more prominent ways is through information literacy instruction. Information literacy is a set of competencies that focus on a student’s ability to find, evaluate, and use information ethically and teaching librarians have strong professional organizational support. Over the past few decades, the Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has published professional guidelines and standards on information literacy. The most recent iteration is called the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (2015). Libraries are well situated on college campuses to bolster need to bolster the ways they identify, promote, and assess learning outcomes beyond the ACRL Framework and beyond classroom learning. New standards and outcomes that address student happiness, purpose, and potential codify how academic libraries nurture lifelong learners, leaders, and more socially aware citizens and contribute to human flourishing. Academic libraries have the room and the capital on campus to broaden the scope of their missions, visions, and measurable outcomes beyond scholarly pursuits and incorporate those that are human-centered. Barriers that hinder efforts for academic libraries to be more human-centered must first be understood. Bias is one barrier that hinders a human-centered approach and is a barrier that emerges in many forms.

This is an interdisciplinary research project brings together multiple fields of thought to discuss human flourishing. This project is informed by the philosophy of information to explore the universe of information, the philosophy of education as a way to understand human perspectives in the information universe, critical literacy to define forms of bias, information literacy to establish the value of academic libraries. This project identifies three new competencies as a way to describe, align, and measure the work of librarianship in the framework of human flourishing.

The concepts belonging, connectedness, confidence serve as the three new frames that foster purpose, potential, and resilience so that students may flourish. These three concepts serve as the structure on which academic libraries can build programming around the social side of studying, that is, the social connections students develop during library programming. This project will present case study on social programming based on these three outcomes. The case studies will include the results of HSIRB approved studies that measured student social and emotional learning during library programming. Student confidence, building community and bolstering connectedness are valuable in and of themselves. Ultimately, the new framework positions academic libraries to continue the legacy of being at the academic, social, and emotional heart of institutions of higher education.

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