Can an excellent distance learning library service support student retention and how can we find out?

Needham, Gill; Parker, Jo; Nurse, Richard; Scantlebury, Non and Dick, Sam (2013). Can an excellent distance learning library service support student retention and how can we find out? Open Learning, 28(2) pp. 135–140.



Higher Education libraries have traditionally sought to be able to demonstrate the impact their services have on student attainment. This is particularly important in the current economic climate where libraries frequently have to defend their budgets in the face of financial constraints, whilst needing to demonstrate better value for money to students who are now paying more for higher education. A number of studies around the world have been successful in harnessing data around library usage to begin to show strong correlation with student retention and final results. But most of these studies rely on data from book loans and engagement with a physical library, and where students follow a traditional three or four year degree course. This is challenging for a distance education institution, like the UK’s Open University (OU), where most students rarely or never visit the physical Open University Library and where study and assessment patterns can differ from those of traditional universities. This paper outlines the efforts of staff at The Open University Library to embed their services and resources into the learning experience of their distance learners, and to aspire to find ways of demonstrating their contribution to student retention and achievement. While there is huge potential in the amount and range of data available, the challenge is to identify an appropriate model that allows The Open University Library to demonstrate how Library Services impacts on student retention, attainment and achievement.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions