Libraries and Guided Pathways: Aligning Library Work with a New Framework

ASCCC Guided Pathways Task Force

Libraries can play an integral role in the guided pathways framework rolling out across the state; however, much uncertainty still exists regarding the ways in which libraries fit into a larger guided pathways framework. In the “CCCCO Principles: Key Elements of Guided Pathways”,[1] the principle of guided pathways that most clearly aligns with libraries is as follows: “Integrated support services in ways that make it easier for students to get the help they need during every step of their community college experience.” Community college librarians likely recognize this principle to exemplify the underlying ethos of their everyday work. The larger Guided Pathways framework is meant to better integrate instruction and student services, providing libraries an opportunity to rethink and re-contextualize library resources and services on college campuses.

Some ways in which library work aligns with the guided pathways framework include the following:[2]

  • Traditional single-session library orientations developed to supplement new metamajors Sequenced library instruction or scaffolded information literacy for various pathways
  • Embedded instruction (e.g. career center, individual  departments, Canvas courses)
  • New and redesigned printed library guides centered on metamajors, including career information
  • Library workshops around pathway-specific information literacy concepts or career research and information
  • Building intentional support services in cooperation with various campus entities, including career services, counseling, and others
  • Providing openly licensed, easy-to-adopt information literacy instruction and supplemental materials for classroom instructors in Canvas Commons
  • Train the trainer models in which library faculty work with other faculty, tutors, and campus partners to scaffold information literacy into the classroom, tutoring sessions, and other instructional opportunities
  • Incorporating metamajor and career pathways guidance in credit-bearing information literacy courses
  • Liaison models in which library faculty are assigned to specific metamajors as a consistent point of contact


  • Traditional reference services at the reference desk or through an online chat reference
  • Newer models of reference services, including embedded reference (e.g. FYE, career center, individual departments, Canvas courses, library liaisons), roving reference, and others
  • Reimagining reference services and questioning whether all students who need reference help are seeking out assistance; if not, colleges should explore how they can get students to ask for help and how they can anticipate students’ reference needs and meet them where they are


  • Support classroom faculty in finding, using, and creating OER for courses and career pathways
  • Create working spaces for discussions around OER for specific courses and career pathways in shared spaces such as OER Commons and Slack


  • Evaluation of physical and e-resources collections to identify gaps in respect to course taking patterns and career pathways
  • Creating or redrafting collection development policies to allocate collection priority to the college’s established pathways
  • Developing, sustaining, and preserving diverse and inclusive collections encompassing of all courses and a wide variety of career paths
  • Disseminating information regarding existing physical and e-resources collections to campus partners and liaisons
  • Highlighting or restructuring physical and online spaces to emphasize pathways, such as organizing database lists around metamajors


  • Maximizing discovery of and access to materials and information with special attention to pathways and careers in order to facilitate retrieval, browsing, and optimal use.
  • Consideration of reclassification and reorganization of items as needed to align with metamajors and careers under the guided pathways framework
  • Guidance for students in formal instruction and reference transactions inclusive of classification and how collections are organized


  • Inclusion of career resources on the college’s library website
  • Library website design or redesign in consideration of metamajors
  • Library displays around various pathways, including community-curated exhibitions and book displays
  • Hosting events regarding various pathways
  • Signage and wayfinding that promote discoverability of resources for various metamajors
  • Library space conducive to fulfilling various needs of students, such as group study and silent areas
  • Embedded campus support from within the library regarding counselors, admissions, and other areas


  • Library presence in guided pathways conversations at the campus, district, local, and state level
  • Involvement in metamajor support teams


  • Strategic planning in alignment with guided pathways principles
  • Robust and intentional onboarding, training, and professional development opportunities for new faculty and staff, both full-time and part-time
  • Robust and intentional onboarding, training, and professional development opportunities for library student workers
  • Recruiting and retaining individuals who bring a range of perspectives to the various functions of library work Universal student ID cards for library accounts, printing, and other campus services
  • Attention to service and creating a welcoming space in which students are encouraged to thrive

Librarians often experience frustration due to campus partners not knowing exactly what libraries can provide. Furthermore, all too often library faculty and staff are excluded from conversations around student success initiatives.[3] Guided pathways provide an opportunity for libraries to showcase what they already offer and what they can further offer to college campuses.

2. These strategies are derived from various conversations with librarians regarding library work and guided pathways, as well as the presentation from and conversations at “California Community Colleges Libraries and Guided Pathways: A Collaborative Workshop” presented by Elizabeth Bowman of Santa Barbara City College,…