Student Engagement Librarian Uses Data to Better Connect With Students

Community Profile

“It is important to find meaningful ways to connect with and support our users that we haven’t historically served as well, especially in the nation’s current climate. To me this means having cultural competency, knowing who your users are, having skills that support them and making sure you are meeting their needs in a way that is relevant and useful to them.”​

Steven Deineh, Instruction and Student Engagement Librarian    
MiraCosta College 
Oceanside, CA

Steven Deineh is dedicated to helping underserved populations at MiraCosta College, where he currently works as Instruction and Student Engagement Librarian. Deineh graduated with his MLIS degree from SJSU’s iSchool in 2007 and immediately began working in community colleges, finding his place at MiraCosta in 2010 where he has continued to grow and evolve as an instructor and information professional. Deineh and his colleagues are engaged in forward-thinking work to increase library engagement based upon data they are gathering. 

Gathering Data to Create Interventions

Four years ago, the library at MiraCosta started asking for student ID numbers for research questions at the reference desk. Now the library has a robust data set of student information based on things like gender, ethnicity, place in college and purpose of being in college. “We have access to all of those demographics tied to reference questions, students who engage us in live chats, students who made reservations in our group study rooms and students who accessed our databases off campus,” said Deineh. This helps Deineh place librarians strategically among specific groups of underserved communities including African American students, Latinx students, LGBTQ students, Asian Pacific Islander students and others, to provide support and resources. “We are able to leverage time and resources in a more intentional and judicious way that also supports what our colleagues across campus and the district are doing,” said Deineh “I focus primarily on the data of students who are asking research questions to see who isn’t coming into the building and who is not engaging us, and then being very intentional in our interventions with those groups.”

Finding Success With Students

Deineh describes the library’s work with transfer-level English students as a recent success story. Students in transfer-level English often had no formal introduction to the library until English 100, which could be a year or two after beginning school at MiraCosta. Deineh and his team recognized the problem based upon their research and created a program to get these students into the library earlier. Librarians provided 30 minute workshops with a walking tour of the library focused on simple information about the library and academic support services. A year later Deineh found that contact statistics at the reference desk for pre-transfer English students was significantly higher, and therefore believes that the intervention was a success overall.

The Evolving Role of Librarians

Deineh believes that the role of a librarian is ever changing. His position as Instruction and Students Engagement Librarian includes helping to support department colleagues, supporting classroom faculty, working with the administration, representing the library in committee work, teaching research credit courses online, doing assessment tasks and taking time to connect with students. “One important thing to remember in an academic library is to take the time to step back and connect with students. The longer you are in the game, the less you get to do that. The constant is our students,” said Deineh. He hopes to eventually share the work he is doing at MiraCosta with other information professionals and librarians, because the research and the findings would likely be helpful to others. Deineh’s research is bringing a new level of engagement and energy to MiraCosta College and he is excited to see where it goes from here.