Building the Library of the Future – and Closing the Loop
Last week, over 50 students, faculty, and administrators came together for “Building the Library of the Future: A Dialogue.” The purpose of the dialogue was to discuss themes which resulted from our analysis of the results of last winter’s LibQual+ Lite survey of user expectations. The survey itself asked a number of questions to determine your satisfaction with Western Libraries in three key areas: service, collections, and the library facilities. If you didn’t partake, don’t recall the questions or want to see the results, they are available here. Western Libraries is always interested in hearing what our users think, and considering the current economic climate and our desire to “close the loop” when it comes to assessment processes, this gathering seemed the perfect way to get people talking about the Libraries.
We divided the participants into groups with a TLA (Teaching and Learning Academy) student at each table to facilitate the conversation and a scribe to record the results. The dialogue had at its heart these three questions:
1. Information Resources
On the LibQUAL survey, faculty indicated that they are less satisfied with library holdings than undergraduates, who in addition to being more satisfied with library holdings, are the largest user group using ILL (interlibrary loan).
Question: How do you think the Library might reconcile this difference between students’ overall satisfaction with Library collections and faculty’s dissatisfaction? Any ideas on what your colleagues think?
2. Library as Place
On the LibQUAL survey, students indicated they appreciate the value of the Library as a place to spend time but found it deficient in some respects while faculty, who visit less, had a lower level of expectation for the facility and felt that level was being met.
Question: What do you think would make the Library more attractive as a place for faculty, staff, and students? What do you think your colleagues might say?
3. Looking for Action
Steve Hiller, the University of Washington’s assessment officer and LibQUAL expert, advises that when looking to the survey results for what things a library needs to address, it’s a good idea to focus on the “big negative numbers.” That is, look at those survey areas with a significant “Superiority or Service Gap” - the difference between the desired level of service and the perceived level. A negative “Superiority or Service Gap” number indicates that the desired minimum level of service is not being met.
Question: Listed below are three LibQUAL areas that had the most significant “big negative number” for each user group. How concerned do you think the library should be about these user perceptions? Where would you suggest that we focus our attention and why?
a) Library as Place: Library spaces that inspire study and learning (-1.32 undergrad)
b) Library as Place: A gateway for study, learning or research (-1.73 graduate students)
c) Information Resources: Print / Electronic journal collections I require for my work (-2.12)
The dialogue was vibrant and both we and the participants were pleased with the engagement. We are now beginning to compile the results of this dialogue. Look for a summary to be posted in the coming months.
In the meantime, we’d like to know what you think. How would you answer the questions we asked of the dialogue participants? Feel free to send me or Frank Haulgren an email. We’re interested in hearing what you have to say. It will help shape what we do in the future!