Library survey will aid in planning
Whether writing a paper for a conference or credit, chances are you will need to know what has been said before about your topic. Which often means a trip to the library.
Universities are about research and the exchange of ideas, and the library facilitates both. Some material can be accessed online, but the library should have the material you need when you need it. It should also provide a quiet place to study, prepare projects and develop ideas.
To enable you to do that, equipment, space and resources should be accessible and the collection must reflect current trends and theories. Those resources are required for every member of our 45 departments and five colleges. It’s a tall order to fill.
Concordia’s libraries are a year into a planning exercise to ensure that their services and facilities meet users’ needs. A survey seemed like a systematic way to assess how things were going, “but we’re already short-staffed and don’t have the time or resources,” Bill Curran, Director of Libraries, said.
Last fall, a six-person working group was formed. Joanna Duy is responsible for the group in addition to her role as head of Periodicals and Media Services at the Webster Library.
“We get feedback at the desk, but we’ve never had a standardized way of getting feedback from users, ” Duy said. “I’m really looking forward to hearing the range of comments from our users.”
The group is using a standardized survey that was developed by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and Texas A&M University to measure academic library user satisfaction. Lib-QUAL+ has been used by over 500 institutions, including McGill and Université de Montréal, since the ARL adapted it in 2001. The survey covers everything from services to environment and collections.
“There’s no point in trying to reinvent the wheel. I’m enthused that this survey has proven its worth,” Curran said. He added that using an already established method is both more reliable, and cost efficient than starting from scratch.
The working group obtained the assistance of the Registrar’s Office and IITS in distributing the survey at Concordia. Starting Feb. 1, 1,500 undergraduates, 800 graduate students and 900 faculty members across all disciplines will be solicited via email to participate in the 15-minute online survey. Respondents will be able to identify the library they use most often (Webster or Vanier) and, through their responses, will provide data on both users’ experience and expectations.
Results will be collected at the end of February and tabulated by LibQUAL+’s developers. They can then be compared across institutions, or over years, to measure progress.
Respondents will remain completely anonymous. Providing an email address enters them in a draw for bookstore gift certificates and an iPod Nano.
“Getting a large response will be key,” Curran stressed. Responses from a range of users will help identify trouble spots, and ways to develop both libraries in the future.
Curran expects the results to confirm what staff already know; for instance, that there is a lack of study space at Webster. The results will also be better able to identify user needs so that if the library expands, they can allocate the new space effectively.
“We really want to provide top-notch service for our users,” Curran said.