Who Are First-Generation Graduate Students and Why Should LIS Care?

Stallworth & Maurici-Pollock / Journal of Education for Library and Information Science / November 2023


Interest in first-generation students (FGS) continues to rise, but literature on this group of students focuses primarily on undergraduate students. The programs, resources, and services that are provided by universities again focus on first-generation undergraduate students. Many universities have graduate programs, but there is little or no support for first-generation graduate students (FGGS) or understanding of their information needs. In the field of library and information science (LIS), there is a gap in research pertaining to first-generation graduate students and an opportunity to learn more about this group, their strengths, and why they need support. In this article, the authors discuss issues around defining FGS and provide an overview of the limited research regarding FGS in the LIS literature, the challenges that first-generation graduate students face, and why LIS professionals should care about this group of students. The article ends with a call to action for more intersectional research on the experiences of FGS with graduate education and highlights the benefits of such research for students, graduate programs, student support services, and academic libraries. The goal of this article is to bring more awareness about first-generation graduate students, in the hope of starting to think about ways to support these students, many of whom are in our classes.