What You Told Us: A Preliminary Report
Last spring the York University Libraries ran a survey called LibQual+ to measure our users’ perceptions of our resources and services. The Libraries administer this standardized web-based survey every three years, and the results help us improve our services and benchmark our progress. This year we heard from 758 faculty, graduate and undergraduate students. Thanks to all who took the time to participate in the survey!
From the LibQual+ data emerges a picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the library as perceived by our community. What follows is an overview of the main themes of what we heard, and some preliminary ideas on how we intend to respond to these concerns. Our plans will continue to develop as we explore these issues in greater detail. For a more detailed report for faculty, please click here.
Staff: The Personal Touch
By far the most frequent comment we heard was praise for library staff! We know our community values personal interactions, and we are gratified to know how positive your experiences with our staff and librarians are. Nearly one quarter of the comments praised the people who make up the library. We look forward to continuing to work with you in our various roles assisting, supporting, and collaborating.
Right: image created in Wordle using themes heard in Libqual comments from York faculty
Collections: The Right Stuff
The Libraries’ collections contain millions of items - in print, electronic and in other formats. Despite this, survey respondents expressed a desire to see collections continue to improve. We know that collections are very important to our community and especially to faculty and graduate students engaged in research. We also know from LibQual+ data at other academic libraries that the desire for richer collections is nearly universal, regardless of the institution. This suggests that library users everywhere place high value on collections, and have high expectations. We need to improve our collections, but we also need to promote the rich collections we already have.
Liaison librarians play a key role in the development of collections. Liaison librarians are assigned to each department and program at York. You can help us enrich the collections by contacting your librarian to suggest material you think we should acquire.
We also heard concerns about the state of the Scott Library stacks, which are difficult to maintain partly because they are overcrowded. We will be initiating a stack maintenance program for Scott to help identify and remove records of missing copies, and ensure that books shown as available in the catalogue are on the shelf in the correct location.
Technology and Systems: Your Technological Toolkit
We heard some dissatisfaction with the catalogue interface. This is largely due to the fact that we released a new catalogue interface—still in beta mode at the time—less than two weeks before LibQual+. It is very understandable, therefore, that there were complaints! Since this time we have made significant improvements: we changed the search results to display by order of relevancy (as opposed to chronologically), improved the accuracy of title searching, added an advanced search option, etc. We are confident that most concerns are now addressed.
We also heard concerns about the new library web site and slow computers in the library. We have made significant improvements on both fronts. More details are provided in the full report.
Library as Place: Let’s Get Physical
The Library as a study and learning environment is fundamental for students; it is perhaps less crucial for faculty who have their own offices and places of study. However,we know that quality library spaces are key features of learning on campus. We are lucky to have some wonderful spaces, but we are also aware that we are challenged by a serious lack of library space. Unsurprisingly, this concern surfaced in LibQual+. We continue to take steps to create quality library learning environments.
Among the most significant developments is the opening of the new Learning Commons @ Scott Library this fall, which added 350 new study seats. We are now raising funds for Phase 2, and at the same time are planning for additional seating in the designated silent zone on the fourth floor of Scott. To respond to concerns about noise, especially at Scott Library, we have created learning zones to differentiate areas by acceptable noise level: conversation-friendly, quiet and silent zones. This allows people to choose the zone that best matches their needs.
These are just some of the preliminary highlights of themes we heard in the LibQual+ survey. Greater detail is provided in the full report to faculty. We are very grateful for your feedback and look forward to reporting back more as our plans develop.
We always welcome your feedback. If you have questions about LibQual+ or response to it, please contact Mark Robertson, Associate University Librarian, Information Services (firstname.lastname@example.org).