Document Type

Article - Open Access

Publication Title

Library Philosophy and Practice

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Publication Number


Abstract/ Summary

Education is something that is valued more each and every day. A growing number of people in today’s society realize the importance of education and the increasing need to return to school. As the number of adult learners continues to rise, so too does the need to reach out to this population to make sure they are being presented with the appropriate tools and resources needed to succeed. Because it is theorized that adults (those age 25+) who return to school are likely to enroll in a community college, rather than a four year university, this study looks specifically at community colleges in Massachusetts in an effort to judge what is being done to help this often overlooked population, as well as what could be improved. To make this determination, a brief survey was sent to 25 reference librarians at 13 different Massachusetts community colleges. They results of the survey were then analyzed, along with previously written literature on this topic. The survey confirmed earlier findings that adult learners commonly struggle with issues of a technological nature. These issues include troubles using computers and the internet, as well as using word processing software, and databases. To help adult learners succeed, collaboration is a key component. This collaboration should extend to the information technology department, department heads, librarians, instructors, information literacy coordinators, and most importantly, the student. Communication between all of these groups is needed to ensure the success of adult learners. This paper will explore these barriers, as well as other obstacles adult learners face, and also provide further recommendations as to what can be done to help this growing population of students.