Year in Review: Cultivating a Sense of Belonging

As we close out 2023, we want to share some of our biggest achievements from the past academic year. The following is part of a series of highlights from our 2022-23 Library Year in Review. You can read the full report at LMU Digital Commons.

The library is an experience, one that is rooted in both the spiritual and the aesthetic. At the library, we foster a sense of belonging through inclusive programming, diverse and representative collections, and empathetic service standards. Within its walls, the library becomes a sanctuary, a space where knowledge and creativity emerge through contemplation and community, where students can be themselves fully and explore their passions.

By providing access to a wide range of resources representing diverse cultures, authors, and experiences, we affirm the various identities of our students. By offering interdisciplinary and inter-cultural events, students see themselves in our programming. Throughout their time at LMU, students can explore the library to discover their own identities and learn from others, fostering empathy and understanding.

This year, we collaborated with students, faculty, and staff to create a wide range of exhibitions, including an altar for the Persian new year, Nowruz; an ofrenda for Dia de Los Muertos; and a showcase of artists from Resilience, a support network for undocumented students/allies, for Immigration Awareness Week. In the fall, we worked with the First To Go program to acquire a new collection of materials related to the history of first-generation student advocacy at LMU. In spring, we hosted an event featuring the history of Clothespin Fever Press, a small lesbian press based out of Los Angeles. Each of these actions turned the spotlight on student communities that need more representation and support.

We also foster a sense of belonging and a sense of place by addressing students’ essential needs, such as safety, spaces to focus, and nutrition, most notably during times in the semester associated with high anxiety. Our Feel Good Finals programming and our Long Night Against Procrastination—which made national news—support students at their highest point of need (i.e., final exams) by providing healthy snacks, quiet study spaces, tutoring, and research support, and encouraging messages from library staff. As one student noted, “This event helped me stay motivated by seeing other students around me working and knowing I’m not alone. It felt like we were being supported.”

Fostering a sense of belonging is about more than cozy reading nooks and quiet study areas. It’s about creating an environment that helps students feel at ease and feel seen. The library is a vital part of the LMU ecosystem, nurturing a community that values and celebrates the unique qualities of each student.