logo ULC Annual Report 1995-96

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Campus-wide Library Survey

In spring 1995, the GLS contracted for a campus-wide survey by the L&S Survey Center. Four thousand questionnaires were mailed; 2,468 were returned, a 61.7% response rate. The questionnaire presented statements about library collections, electronic information, staff, services, and facilities. Respondents indicated both their current level of satisfaction and the importance of each item. The questionnaire also contained statements about overall impressions, with which respondents agreed or disagreed. Respondents identified their status, departmental affiliation, and primary library. Suggestions for improving campus libraries were solicited, and nearly half of the respondents offered comments. Because each user category has distinct needs, responses from faculty, undergraduates, graduate students and academic staff were analyzed separately. Despite the large sample, the number of respondents who identified any particular library as their primary library was too small to permit generalization.
The survey confirmed the importance of the completeness of library collections to the faculty. Critical comments about the collections were spread across disciplines and formats. "Books and journals on the shelf when I seek them" emerged as a major concern across all user categories. Students, both undergraduates and graduates, ranked library hours as extremely important. A strong desire for longer hours in the evenings, on weekends, and during non-class periods was revealed in the written comments.
The survey suggests a lack of support for library consolidation. Across all user categories, respondents agreed that libraries "are located conveniently" and disagreed that collections "are too scattered." There was some sentiment for mergers in the sciences, judging from the comments. The importance of libraries as environments for study and research was stressed in the many comments on facilities and equipment. "Helpfulness of library staff" and "knowledge and expertise of library staff" ranked high in importance. Many praised individual staff members for the excellent service they provide.
Across all user categories, there is strong agreement on the value of electronic information. Undergraduates were more satisfied with current electronic offerings than were other respondents. The availability of the full text of journals in electronic form received low satisfaction scores, but overall it was not judged to be of top importance. Access to Electronic Library resources from non-library locations is especially important to faculty and graduate students.
The findings of the campus-wide library survey dovetail with other recent surveys. A survey sponsored by DoIT found that library databases were high on the list of resources regularly accessed by WiscWorld users. In the annual undergraduate survey, libraries received the highest satisfaction rating of any campus service. A survey of summer session participants similarly revealed high regard for libraries. And finally, a survey of freshmen showed that, of all the services introduced during SOAR and Welcome Week, the libraries were the one most often used by students during their first semester on campus.
The 1995 library survey provides baseline data, against which the libraries and the ULC can measure the impact of budget reductions and the benefits of improvements. The GLS intends to repeat the survey in two to three years. Although the survey pinpointed a few areas of high importance coupled with low satisfaction, overall 90% of the respondents agreed that "libraries on this campus are doing a good job of meeting my information needs."


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Last modified July 7, 1998

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Comments or questions to: Deborah Reilly , Coordinator