"Intrusive Librarianship" with Annette Alvarado


On February 13, 2019, Annette Alvarado from Loyola University Chicago presented the webinar "Intrusive Librarianship." In 2015, Loyola University Chicago opened Arrupe College, a program that offered a two-year associate’s degree program that was structured for students that needed academic support. These students come from diverse populations, and many are low-income, first-generation college students. Through small class sizes, one-on-one contact with faculty and staff, students would have the support system necessary to succeed in the program. Since its inception the Loyola University Chicago Lewis Library has worked with faculty and staff to teach and support information literacy in the program.

Intrusive Advising, also known as proactive advising, has been instituted by various educational institutions throughout the United States. At Arrupe College this approach has been adopted to meet the needs of underserved students. At Arrupe College all faculty and staff take on advisory roles and follow this method of advising. It has been successful in reaching students that otherwise would not have asked for help. This webinar showcased how Annette Alvarado has put intrusive advising into practice and has become an intrusive librarian.

Intrusive Librarianship
Annette Alvarado, Loyola University Chicago
Presented on February 13, 2019

  • Recording:


  • Annette Alvarado is a Reference and Instruction Librarian at Loyola University Chicago Libraries - Lewis Library at the Water Tower Campus and is the liaison for Arrupe College and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Before her career at Loyola University Chicago she was an adult & teen reference librarian at Northlake Public Library District, an adjunct librarian at Harper College, and adjunct librarian at the City Colleges of Chicago Daley College. Annette was also a participant of the 2014 ILEAD USA: Illinois Librarians Explore, Apply and Discover. She has a Masters in Library and Information Science, with an emphasis on Academic & Special Libraries from Dominican University.

Descriptive Outline


Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago (https://luc.edu/arrupe/) started in 2015. It is a two-year program with a small student body (250-275 students). Although Arrupe is its own college and has its own mission, Arrupe students are Loyola students. Arrupe College currently offers three associate’s degrees (liberal arts, social and behavioral sciences, business), but they are planning to add a pre-nursing component due to popularity.
There are several unique aspects of Arrupe’s educational model:

  • Students have an enhanced summer pre-enrollment orientation.
  • Arrupe uses a cohort structure. Students are grouped into AM and PM cohorts. There are no classes on Wednesday, which is a study day when they can come in for additional academic support.
  • All Arrupe faculty are advisors and they practice intrusive/proactive advising.
  • Individual classes are small.
  • The financial model is such that students graduate with little or no debt. Low-income students are the target, and they are typically first generation students. Some students are undocumented or on DACA.
  • It is a commuter program and some students commute a substantial distance to come to class. All classes end by the early evening so that students can commute home safely.

Intrusive/Proactive Advising

There are fewer than 25 faculty at Arrupe and they all serve as advisors and follow the model of intrusive/proactive advising with their students. Alvarado adapted this model to her work with students because initially students weren’t coming to see her. Although Arrupe students are by design "at-risk students," they don’t appreciate that title. Alvarado refers to them as unique students.

Characteristics of Intrusive Librarianship

  • Don’t be afraid to contact students before they contact you. For example, Alvarado emails students directly when she knows that they have an assignment coming up to try to set up one-on-one or group meetings with them.
  • Know the school and its resources and make partnerships. For example, the college has read-ins for both Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month. During the events Alvarado sets up a station with books on the topic for use in the event or for check-out. This started due to her connection with the English Department and has continued with the Communications Department, who now organizes the event. She reaches out to event organizers and asks how the library can help support the event. She is doing the same thing to support the new pre-nursing program.  
  • Be available to students by email, chat, and social media, if you are comfortable with that. Alvarado uses both Snapchat and Facebook to communicate with students. She also does video chat through Zoom or Facebook.
  • Be trained in relevant areas (both academic and non-academic) that impact students, e.g., Safe Space Training, DREAM Undocumented Ally Training, etc.
  • Maintain clear boundaries, but show care and a positive attitude. Direct students to a counselor or the Wellness Center when appropriate.
  • Students have a lot of distractions in their lives, compete with those distractions. Gathering spaces like the cafeteria are good places to meet students and answer questions or provide impromptu reference assistance.

Step Away from the Desk

  • Develop relationships with student organizations and attend their meetings. For example, Alvarado worked with the Graphic Novel Book Club and purchased library materials for the group and also promoted them on her LibGuide (https://libguides.luc.edu/arrupe/GraphicNovelClub). Student groups can become programming partners.
  • Request to have a space in a community area so you can be visible. Pop-up reference in the dining hall is a good way to be seen by students and to connect with them in a relaxed environment.
  • Partner with students, staff, and faculty to coordinate programming efforts. Alvarado again referenced the African American Read-In that she provided support for.
  • Know about community resources and share that information with students when appropriate. Alvarado gave the example of helping a student get free insulin for a family member at a local clinic. She has a very detailed LibGuide (https://libguides.luc.edu/arrupe/) that has information on a variety of community organizations and provides help on things as diverse as finding social services or applying for jobs through the State. Her guide also covers topics that are commonly researched at Arrupe, many of which are on social justice related topics. The guide has resources about other colleges and applying to those schools since many Arrupe students continue on at four year colleges and universities.
  • Visit! Turnover affects relationships so make sure to reach out to faculty, administrators, and staff as well as student organizations to stay abreast of plans and events.

Additional Insights

Alvarado pointed out that programming, community resources, working with faculty and staff, and working with students are all interconnected in her work at Arrupe College. She draws on her public library background to create fun programming in the library that encourages students to come in. She has started applying for grants to help with library programming.
Her own background makes it easier to build relationships with students. Using personal aspects helps to connect with students. Culture does play a role. Students need to see librarians as welcoming and the library as a welcoming space. Getting feedback from students is often simply a matter of asking them. Once students are comfortable with a librarian they are willing to share their thoughts and feelings.
If she had to start over again with intrusive librarianship she would begin with staff and administrators first to see what they are doing so she doesn’t replicate their planned activates and to know what they have scheduled for the students. Then she would reach out to faculty and then to student groups.


Katsouros, S. N. (2017). Come to believe: How the Jesuits are reinventing education (again): Inside the first year of the new Arrupe College. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books.