Thursday, June 27, 2013


(RIP, Alan Myers)

The library where I work isn't for a shrinking class of full-time, tenure-track faculty. They make up about a fifth of our total faculty. It's not for a bloated class of administrators who never set foot in the building, and don't use the website. They also do things like this, ignoring how people on campus behave.
Many academic libraries are playing a game that’s rigged. We may as well focus on what we do best, and that includes student services, whether they are appreciated or not. As a librarian and an administrator, if my library is going down regardless, it’s going to do so on my terms. The primary focus of this library, and, I suspect, most academic libraries, isn't faculty, or administrators. It's students. (Source is the first link above)
And so here we are, with some data on how students view the library. 

Ahh, but what does it mean?

This data comes from our senior exit survey, encompassing 2011, I became director that March, to the most recent graduating class. I see a few trends, mostly positive. 
  • I told our provost that I wasn't sure it was worth it to sell library services to the ten percent of graduating seniors who had negative experiences with the library, and she agreed. And yet, the percentage of students who report such experiences has been cut in half. 
  • The number of students reporting some kind of satisfaction with library services has remained steady over the last three years at about sixty-five percent, well within the margin of error (which is +/- 4% based on participation rates). But this year, a lot more people loved us, which is nice. We're just hitting our stride (/knocks on wood).
  • There's an apathetic "middle" out there that we, the library staff need to reach, and it's growing. Hopefully some of the negatives ended up here, and we can work on converting them to satisfied students. This group is an opportunity, but we can't afford to lose them, either. 
  • The existence of "NA" category means that faculty needs to do a better job of funneling students to the library. Every year I see at least one student who has used the library for the first time in April of their senior year and I die a little bit inside.

I now open the floor to alternative interpretations. How do you, fellow librarians, collect data like this, and what do you do with it? 

I leave you with my CSS skills. 

Very SatisfiedModerately SatisfiedNeutralModerately DissatisfiedVery DissatisfiedN/A

1 comment:

  1. Great data, and great results! We'd only been getting one question on the seniors' exit survey, and it's not as helpful to us as I'd like. I'm working on a satisfaction survey right now that's open to anyone affiliated with the university (prizes!) and asks about their satisfaction with any service point they've used that year. I'm hoping it will give us a lot more actionable information than our one do-you-like-the-library type question does now.