Through three lenses: transfer students and the library

Anna Sandelli (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Publication date: 14 August 2017



The aim of this paper is to examine literature related to transfer students and students in transition through three interrelated lenses: student demographics and experiences, considerations encountered by institutions of higher education working to support these students and academic libraries’ interactions with this growing population.


Library and information science and education databases were searched for articles related to transfer student experiences and initiatives. Educational research and policy centers were also investigated for supplemental data and definitions.


Several key considerations for academic libraries interested in supporting transfer students emerged, including the growth and diversity of this population; academic, social and procedural experiences encountered during and after students’ transition; commonalities and differences with native first-year students; and the value of partnerships in fostering student success.

Practical implications

This review contextualizes conversations regarding transfer student experiences, providing a resource for librarians to understand this population from multiple perspectives and to use these perspectives to develop and enhance initiatives, resources and services.


Despite an increased emphasis on transfer students across higher education, there is little literature regarding libraries’ involvement with this population. This literature review also seeks to expand upon existing conversations by examining transfer student experiences beyond the library that could inform both their interactions with the library and the ways in which libraries connect and communicate with these students.



Sandelli, A. (2017), "Through three lenses: transfer students and the library", Reference Services Review, Vol. 45 No. 3, pp. 400-414.

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