The role of libraries in student wellbeing

Alterline’s latest collaborative research project will provide new evidence about students’ experiences and their expectations of university libraries in relation to wellbeing. The resulting intelligence report will help support libraries to develop their own evidence-based, strategic response to this important issue.

Why join the collaboration?

We know that doing well at university is intimately related to being well, and mental ill-health significantly compromises the ability of students to cope with, and keep up with, the demands of their studies. As a central part of all students’ journeys, university libraries can play an important role in promoting student wellbeing.

Wellbeing is important to universities and students, and the issue is included in our Library Life Pulse as one of the four core measures of library impact on students’ lives. On average, just over half (56%) of undergraduate students who took part in the Pulse in 18/19  said their library has a positive impact on their wellbeing.

These findings whilst encouraging also show that there is more work to be done. We know that university libraries are responding to the issue of student wellbeing via a range of activities, for example, training frontline staff in mental health first aid; providing specific wellbeing collections; and offering wellbeing events. However, as libraries continue to build on their work in this crucial area, a deeper understanding of how library spaces, services and people impact student wellbeing will enable libraries to improve their impact and help prioritise the investment of limited resources.

We hope the collaboration will enable libraries to:

Use student voice to inform planning: Evidence students’ expectations regarding the role of university libraries in wellbeing. Use student voice to inform strategic planning around this issue.

Inform service development: Measure students’ current experiences of libraries’ wellbeing activities to identify what is working and what isn’t, to inform future development and improvement

Identify areas for improvement: Understand which aspects of the library service may be impacting negatively on student wellbeing, and ways this could be improved

Engage more students in training and support: Explore how library support and training for students are perceived and how this activity could be more engaging and impact.

Collaborating partners will have the opportunity to help shape the research design, but at this stage we expect to explore:

  • How do library spaces impact on student wellbeing?
  • How are libraries current wellbeing initiatives viewed by students?
  • What are students’ expectations of libraries in relation to wellbeing?
  • Are there aspects of library services that impact negatively on student wellbeing?
  • What types of support and training would students benefit from?
  • What services and initiatives are having the biggest positive impact on wellbeing?
  • What role are/could library staff playing in student wellbeing?
  • What are parents, expectations and priorities when it comes to student accommodation?

How does the collaboration work?

The project will kick-off with a collaborative workshop, bringing together participating university libraries from across the UK. Fresh intelligence will be delivered through a strategic report based one a new national quantitative survey of 1,000 undergraduates, and follow-up qualitative research.

Alterline’s unique collaborative research model brings universities together to work on common challenges and build communities of innovative practice. By taking part you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Help shape the research design
  • Share ideas and build links with other institutions
  • Save time and resource with Alterline’s full-service research support
  • Gain detailed insights from the full strategic research report and easily implement actions from the practical recommendations
  • Easily share high level insights with your key stakeholders from summary documents and presentations.

How much does it cost?

Joining this collaboration means you will have access to the valuable insights and practical recommendations for just £5,950 (excl. VAT). This is a fraction of the cost of commissioning individual research, giving you superb value for money.

The project will run until June 2020. For more information about getting involved click here to email Sharon Steele, Client Communities Manager, at or call 0161 503 5760.