From At-Risk to At-Promise
Academic Libraries Supporting Student Success
by Amy E. Vecchione and Cathlene E. McGraw
November 2022, 141pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-7635-6
$70, £54, 61€, A96
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7636-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Addresses the tricky problem of student retention with practical suggestions for academic libraries.

Academic library workers will learn how to collaborate with staff in academic advising and student services to improve undergraduate student belonging, retention rates, and graduation rates for at-promise students.

As the demographics of student populations change, many students require additional or different support to be successful in their college careers. Meanwhile, higher education is under pressure to reduce budgets and serve more students within certain areas of the university, including the library, academic advising, and other student services. Academic librarians and student success administrators can collaborate to create additional pathways for students who struggle to succeed.

Authors Vecchione and McGraw provide a roadmap for library employees and student success administrators to initiate and develop discussions on college campuses to define and address these emergent student needs. Through a selection of case studies and historical context, readers will learn how to define what student success looks like and how to design custom services to address student barriers to that success. Library employees and student success professionals both serve students at the margins. These readers will acquire skills to enhance student success initiatives and strengthen collaborations with one another.


  • Identify the barriers that limit undergraduate students' success in higher education
  • Develop a plan for collaboration and partnership between library workers and student success administrators at any institution
  • Obtain deeper knowledge and understanding regarding the history of student success and existing support structures at universities
  • Understand the changing nature of higher education and how the system has perpetuated privileges, hegemonic knowledge, awareness, and skills
Amy E. Vecchione is a professor and assistant director of research and innovation at eCampus Center, Boise State University. She has authored articles on emerging technologies and student success for the past 15 years. Vecchione is the winner of the President's Community Service Award in 2020 from Boise State University for her work finding creative, engaging, community-based solutions during the pandemic.

Cathlene E. McGraw is an academic advisor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She earned a BA in journalism from the University of Oregon and an MS in college student services from Oregon State with a focus on working with at-risk/at-promise students. McGraw served students and faculty as the director of queer student services at Portland State, where she found her passion for academic advising.


"Focusing on student success in higher education, seasoned academic library practitioners and thought leaders Vecchione and McGraw make a compelling case that switching “at risk” to “at promise” is more than just a semantic shift. They make an equally compelling and carefully documented case that academic library-initiated-or-led advocacy, partnerships, and effective collaborations have the potential to advance student success. A word change alone isn’t going to help students; as the authors argue, this must be followed by intentional action. This book is a welcome contribution to changing the culture of how academic libraries and librarians think about and respond to students and their strengths." —Sarah Barbara Watstein, Dean, Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons, Seattle University

"Vecchione and McGraw deliver a book that is part toolkit, part roadmap, and filled with practical insights for reaching students where they are. It's a powerful mix of design thinking and experiential learning that can transform the library into interdisciplinary success hub and provide authentic opportunity. Buy this book. Read it. Set the stage for more student success!"—Tod Colegrove, Carson City Library Director, former Nevada State Librarian, and Emeritus Professor, University of Nevada, Reno

"From an insightful analysis of barriers to student success to beginning discussions on student success at your own library, this important book brings an essential perspective to a high-profile topic in higher education. The authors’ unique attention to power dynamics and existing inequities, tried and true methods for advocacy and collaboration, and realities of academic institutions makes their ideas as timely as they are useful. This book is highly recommended for any academic library workers who are invested in the success of their students."—Eamon Tewell, Head of Research Support and Outreach, Columbia University Libraries
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