Document Type


Publication Date



College student parents -- United States, Academic libraries


Literature on student-parents and parents in higher ed generally focuses on graduate students and faculty with kids. However, non-traditional students are growing in number, including at Portland State University, an urban, public university in Oregon. Our campus includes many undergraduate students who have children. In 2009, results from a campus survey suggested that more than 21% of PSU students were parents. In an effort to serve this group, then-AUL for Public Services Tom Raffensperger collaborated with the Helen Gordon Child Development Center to create a study room stocked with essentials for kids--books, toys, small furniture--and their student-parents. In 2013, Library Development Director Jennifer Wilkerson won a grant from the Juan Young Trust to refresh the room, updating the furniture, paint, and toys.

The Family Study Room isn't the busiest study room. Students can only borrow the key when their kids are at the Library with them. But it does have a loyal following, including 157 repeat users over a two-year period. The PSU Resource Center for Students with Children recently conducted a survey of student-parents on campus. Out of X number of respondents, X reported using the Family Study Room weekly while X used it monthly.

Student-parents are not a well-researched population in higher education. Indeed, the NCES does not identify a specific number of student-parents. We do know that Student-parents face more barriers to graduation than students without children; they are less likely to graduate than their peers. This poster and research are an attempt to bring awareness of this population to other academic libraries.


Poster presented at ALA 2016 Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, June 25, 2016

Additional information on the poster is located here:

Persistent Identifier