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New Program Gives Library Resource Access to CU Anschutz Alumni

Pilot effort strengthens alumni connections, fosters life-long learners

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Written by Blair Ilsley on July 13, 2020

A pilot program giving alumni access to select library resources is helping to strengthen alumni connections to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

The idea began with Karen Aarestad, assistant vice chancellor for Advancement, David Engelke, dean of the Graduate School, and Melissa Desantis, director of the Strauss Health Sciences Library. They considered the extensive access to academic resources that students enjoy and how most students, unless they stay in academia, lose this resource after graduation. They thought: why not keep this access going?

Strengthening academic connection after graduation

“Let’s think about medical and scientific professionals who graduate and go start practices,” Engelke said. “They don’t necessarily have access to the professional journals that they need to best inform their clinical decision making. They would think that this is very useful resource. It’s especially valuable to people who do not stay in academia and couldn’t get this large access elsewhere.”

A team from the Strauss Health Sciences Library and Office of Alumni Relations assembled to bring the idea to fruition. In 2019, phase one of the pilot launched with access to a select number of databases, limited access to document delivery services, and access to check out physical materials from the library for spring 2019 graduates from the CU College of Nursing and Graduate School.

Initially, they saw a lot of enrollment in the project, but low levels of use of the services, said Kara Padgett, senior director of the Alumni Relations Office. “This led to concerns with the sustainability of the turnaround and if we were really engaging our alumni in a meaningful way,” she said. “We weren’t so sure.”

Danielle L. Ostendorf, electronic resources librarian, suggested reworking the pilot to provide database access in 2020. Since then, phase two of the pilot program has seen a large increase in sign-ups and usage.

Encouraging life-long learners

All parties have expressed the desire to offer strengthened alumni ties through life-long learning. “We hope that this pilot can keep alumni better connected to their alma mater,” said Ostendorf.

Zachary Noriega, alumni relations specialist, added, “We want to build a culture of life-long learning, and help our alumni stay engaged with the campus after they graduate. We will want to look at the data at the end of the year and decide how we want to proceed in 2021 and beyond.”

The current pilot is providing access to alumni through December 2020. For more information about alumni access visit the Strauss Health Sciences Library’s website.