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  October 4, 2004

Library Receives High Marks From Patrons In Survey

How do users rate the University Library and the services it offers? Very highly, according to a survey of users conducted by the library during the spring semester.

The survey instrument, developed by the Association of Research Libraries and researchers at Texas A&M University Libraries, was administered simultaneously at 33 ARL libraries. At UConn, the online survey was conducted system-wide, but not at the School of Law or the Health Center.

Image: Students find a quiet place to study in the Babbidge Library.

Students find a quiet place to study in the Auriemma Family Reading Room at Homer Babbidge Library.
Photo by Mohamed Faizal, UCIMT

Overall, both faculty and students gave the library high marks in the survey (7.29 on a 9-point scale). Undergraduates were the most satisfied user group (7.33), followed by graduate students (7.09); and all users — faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students — expressed strong satisfaction with the way they are treated in the library. UConn's satisfaction scores ranked second highest for undergraduate students and seventh highest overall among the 33 ARL member libraries that participated in the survey.

"We were pleased with the survey's results and especially gratified to learn that our largest user group — undergraduates — rated us as highly as they did," said Brinley Franklin, director of University Libraries. "User surveys are just one method we use to assess the quality of collections, services, facilities, and equipment. The information we obtain from this and other assessment tools is critical in identifying ways to provide the collections and services users value most."

What Users Value Most
The survey consisted of 22 core questions about service, focusing on staff attributes such as warmth, empathy, reliability, and assurance; "information control," focusing on users' ability to manage the information world in an efficient, effective way; and "library as place," focusing on the physical environment. One hundred faculty, 199 graduate students, and 320 undergraduate students, and 12 staff responded to the survey. The vast majority reported that Homer Babbidge Library is the primary library they use.

Respondents' answers reflect the specific library where they conduct their work and also the degree of independence with which they conduct it, both remotely and in person.

Undergraduates, who use the library's physical facilities most frequently, value most highly: modern equipment for easy access to information, quiet space for individual activities, a comfortable and inviting location, space that inspires study and learning, an easy-to-use library website, and access to electronic resources via the web. Their areas of greatest satisfaction include staff who instill confidence and are willing to help users, give students individual attention in a caring manner, and provide a comfortable and inviting physical environment.

Graduate students depend heavily on certain library services, such as interlibrary loan, but often conduct their work from their home or office. They said they most value print and/or electronic journals, access to electronic resources from home/office, electronic information resources, an easy-to-use library website, easy access to information for independent use, modern equipment for easy access to information, and printed library materials. They gave the Libraries' high marks with respect to comfortable, inviting library space that supports individual and group study and learning and research, and courteous employees who care about library users.

Faculty, who generally prefer to work in their office or at home, said they want as much information as possible delivered to them. They most value: electronic resources accessible from home/office, an easy-to-use library website, print and/or electronic journals, and electronic information resources. They rate the library highly in regard to a physical environment that inspires study, teaching space for individual and group work, and employees who provide individual attention to users.

Overall, both faculty and students said that staff help them find and use information resources efficiently and effectively.

Areas for Improvement
Although users are generally very satisfied with the quality of library service, survey responses provide evidence that there are still some areas where it can be improved. Respondents indicated less satisfaction with the print/electronic journal collections they need for academic and research purposes, access to electronic journal and information resources from home/office, and the library's web page. These problems are common among academic research libraries around the world.

"While we are very proud of our scores," said Franklin, "we plan to work even harder on those areas where our performance falls short of our aspirations."