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Faculty, students assess quality of library services

by Suzanne Zack - September 22, 2008

Homer Babbidge Library is busier than ever. Last semester during finals, an attendance record was set when almost 12,000 people streamed through its doors during one 24-hour period.

And in early September, in response to user requests, the library began opening a half-hour earlier at 7:30 a.m. on weekdays.

While clearly popular, just how satisfied are users with the quality of library service they’re receiving? Very satisfied, according to a new survey conducted last spring.

Library users gave the library staff high marks for being consistently courteous and willing to help, understanding their needs, and providing individual attention. Users were also pleased with the library’s community space for group learning and group study.

Approximately 3,000 members of the UConn community representing all academic programs across the Storrs and the regional campuses participated in the LibQUAL web-based survey, which is sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries.

The survey is designed to gather faculty and student assessment of library service.

Overall, faculty and students gave the library high satisfaction marks in the survey (7.38 on a 9-point scale). Results showed that faculty are the library’s most satisfied user group (7.58), followed by graduate students (7.40).

UConn’s overall satisfaction score ranked sixth highest among 14 other Association of Research Libraries member libraries that participated in this year’s survey. This year’s overall score was slightly higher than in 2004, the last time that UConn participated.

Survey results showed that faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates are most interested in having library resources available from home or office.

Faculty and graduate students also expressed interest in having a library web site that allows users to find information independently and in electronic resources and journal collections to support academic and research needs. Undergraduates, on the other hand, wanted modern equipment to access information; comfortable space; and easy-to-use access tools to find information.

Among areas cited as needing improvement were: a library web site allowing self service; adequate print and electronic resources; quiet space for individual activities; modern equipment; easy-to-use access tools to enhance self-service; and additional electronic resources.

“The library uses data generated from this process, along with other library user survey and assessment efforts, to upgrade service and collections,” says Brinley Franklin, vice provost for University Libraries.

He cites expanded library hours, an expanded selection of electronic reference books, and additions to electronic journal offerings as some of the improvements made in response to survey results.

“In the past four years, we’ve designated the fourth floor and now Level A as quiet study spaces; redesigned level 1 in Babbidge Library with the vice provost for undergraduate education as a Learning Commons to provide technology and academic support for undergraduates; expanded Bookworms Café; and we now permit food and covered drinks in the building. We’ve also expanded hours, including round-the-clock access during final exams,” Franklin says.

Participation in the survey was voluntary, and respondents were offered an option to enter their e-mail addresses into a drawing for one of three video iPods. The winners were: Matthew Singer, an assistant professor of political science; Sarah Livings, an undergraduate student majoring in pharmacy; and Jason Hoagland, a recent M.B.A. graduate.

The full survey results may be viewed at: www.lib.uconn.edu/about/administration/surveys/ Information about the LibQual survey can be found at: www.libqual.org/

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