Word pairs networking chart from our research study asking student what they think librarians can help them with

Incoming first-year student preparedness for college research study

In Ohio, public school funding models have been ruled unconstitutional four times due to the great discrepancies among districts from different economic and geographic areas. One of these discrepancies is often the availability of librarians and library services. When I heard librarian Abi Morgan was doing research that delved into this topic I jumped to join in because Pennsylvania, where I had worked as a community college librarian, also had one of the worst school funding models in the nation. Having personally worked with students coming from the richest and poorest school districts in the state, I saw this dichotomy first hand. In our research, we aimed to examine how these discrepancies may alter preparedness for college-level research for incoming first-year students from various backgrounds.


On our first round of research, we worked with the Office of Institutional Research to compile a list of students from Appalachian-designated counties. We narrowed this list to Ohio counties that were considered at risk economically. We then sent a survey to these students and to a control group of students from other Ohio counties from our incoming first-year class. We received 117 responses in total.


We asked students about their high school library experiences and their confidence to do university library research. We found that students from poorer Appalachian counties were more likely to receive information literacy and research skills in high school from someone other than a librarian. These same students also reported being less confident in their ability to do university-level library research.

I co-authoring the survey. After the survey’s completion I took the lead in analyzing theresults. I co-authored our presentations.

Results Sharing: Abi and I presented our team’s findings as a virtual poster session at the AcademicLibraries Association of Ohio 2020 Conference. We have also submitted a poster for the Association of College& Research Libraries’ 2021 Conference.

2021 Update

In October 2021, social sciences librarian Abi Morgan and I conducted an updated version of this research with this year’s incoming class. This time, we based our evaluation of poverty on the Ohio Department of Education’s Typology of Ohio School Districts, which divides Ohio’s 650+ public school districts by their rural-urban-suburban and poverty characteristics. We also asked questions about remote learning in this survey. Librarians from Ohio State University-Newark also participated between our surveys we have more than 200 respondants. In spring 2022, we will be analyzing our results and endeavor to publish and present on our findings.

2022 Update

After an extensive round of data analysis on our survey results, we’ve now presented our findings a couple of times and are in the process of writing an article.

After our ALAO presentation, our research team received a personal email from the State Librarian of Ohio inviting us to apply for a grant to continue our research:

Good morning Abby,

I attended your session at ALAO about the research you’re doing on the impact of K12 librarians in college readiness. I’m very intrigued by what you’ve done so far. I don’t know if you’ve ever considered looking for grant funds to expand the work, but our Competitive grants this year (due Monday!), include a Data Management and Analytics category. I realized that the timing could be very inopportune this year, but I’m very interested in the results you’ve found so far in your work. I would love to continue to follow your work in this area.

Thank you,


Wendy Knapp
State Librarian
Director, State Library of Ohio

Related Scholarly Output

  • Yarnetsky, J., Morgan, A., and Verdream, J. (2023, June) “Asking for help makes me nervous”: High School to College Library Experiences. [Accepted to present] ALA Annual Conference, Chicago, Ill.
  • Yarnetsky, J., Morgan, A., and Verdream, J. (2023, March) “Nervous, scared and unsure: How access to librarians in high school can impact first-year students’ research readiness and library anxiety. [Invited webinar] Northeast Ohio Regional Library System.
  • Morgan, A., Yarnetsky, J., and Verdream, J. (2022, November) When Librarians Rank Last: First-Year Student Research Readiness, Library Intimidation & High School Experiences. [Presentation] ALAO Annual Conference, Columbus, Ohio.
  • Morgan, A. & Yarnetsky, J (2020, October) Poster: Effects of high school location on first-year students’ research confidence and college readiness. ALAO 2020 Conference. Online: Academic Library Association of Ohio.


Above is a portion of a word-pairs networking chart from our research study based on asking student what they think librarians can help them with.