Trecker Library staff and services received good marks and mostly positive comments in a 2010 user satisfaction survey.  As for the physical plant, well, read on…

Last Spring the Trecker Library conducted a user satisfaction survey utilizing web mounted software. 205 responses, almost exactly half with optional additional comments, were received. The overall satisfaction for the Trecker Library was 3.9 on a 5 point scale where 1 was Extremely Dissatisfied and 5 Extremely Satisfied. This compares favorably to a survey completed in 2009 which resulted in an overall satisfaction of 3.8 using a similar scale.

Individual questions (in descending order by satisfaction results) covered the following topics: Staff (4.2), services (4.1), communications — i.e., how we “market” the library (3.8), equipment (3.8), collections (3.7), hours (3.7) and our facility (3.6).

103 respondents provided optional remarks, some extensive and many covering more than one topic area. An analysis of the comments looked for common topics and then trends within each topic area. As part of this analysis we learned that the two most popular aspects of the library, as represented in the comments, are the staff and the services they provide. The most significant aspects of the library causing dissatisfaction are (in descending order with the highest being the most problematical):  hours, collections, equipment and the physical plant. It will be noted that the positive rankings mirror the statistical analysis mentioned above. For the negative items, there is a close match except that equipment fared better in the numerical results.

Regarding the negative themes, comments which appeared frequently included:

Hours – More hours but without a clear consensus of which hours would be best: Sundays (9), later on weekdays (6), “more” (3), later on Saturdays (3),  later on Fridays (1) and earlier on Saturdays (1).

Collections—More new books, more recent editions of currently held books, more journal subscriptions.

Equipment—Many requests for more SuperHomers and wireless printing for laptop users.

Physical Plant—Too much noise in quiet areas, more quiet and group study areas needed, much physical plant upgrading still needed.

For comments themes which were largely positive in nature, a few concerns arose even as praise was being delivered. For example, while a large number of kudos were given to the staff, many respondents at the same time felt there should be more staffing at the library. Additionally, while a majority of general comments (i..e., not specific to any particular aspect of the library operation) were very positive in nature, more than one respondent felt that the services (including the library) and academic programs at the regional campuses were not supported by the University well as their counterparts at the main campus.

Data and comments deriving from the surveys have been put to good use in recent months. Regarding some of the problem areas noted above:

Equipment. We reconfigured the SuperHomer areas to make more space and were able to add newer and more machines as a result of the space savings and a grant received from the Mortensen Foundation to purchase computers. The Trecker Library also received equipment and furnishings to improve collaborative study options.  Wireless printing recently arrived at the library but only for Windows 32-bit based machines.  Work is happening now to extend the service to Apple and Windows 64-bit laptops/notebooks.

Noise. It has been apparent for some time, and has been confirmed by our surveys, that study needs are shifting. At one time study was very individualistic and there was an expectation of silence in all corners of the library. Now, group study space has become as much a need as quiet study areas. As noted above, we have some new group study capability. At the same time, we hope to open, later this academic year, at least four study carrels for those who want an isolated, quiet space. We are also in the process of requesting a glass partition which would separate our main floor Quiet Study and Superhomer areas.

Physical plant. Dissatisfaction with the library’s infrastructure has been a consistent theme in our surveys. While we have no control over what happens with the building itself, except to be proactive about expressing our needs using the results of our surveys to back us up, we have often been victimized by its condition.  Fortunately, in the past two years a lot of infrastructure work has been happening both inside and outside the library.  The recently completed roofing job will, we hope, finally stop the falling plaster in many areas as well as lessen the leaks which have damaged collections, furniture and equipment. I say “lessen” because we recently learned that the building’s windows, and not just the roof, have been the source of much of the water. A project to possibly replace all of the Library Building’s windows in 2011 is now being discussed by University officials.

Two problem areas, hours and collections, remain knotty. Hours are tied to staffing, both permanent and student, and the state’s budget woes related to operating dollars are well known. Collections budgets have been shifting away from paper and to digital resources, which offer superior accessibility and affordability,  for a number of years and it is unlikely that we will see a resurgence of budgets for paper books and journals any time soon given our current funding strategies.

Finally, my thanks go to the over 200 hundred members of the campus community who responded to our spring, 2010 survey instrument. As a service organization we remain sensitive to what you, our clients, tell us so please don’t hesitate to let us know “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in person, via e- or snail mail, or by your responses to our surveys. The University Libraries will be conducting one of its large-scale, highly important surveys later this fall and questions covering similar topics will provide additional information for strategic and other types of planning. We hope you, and many more, will help us again in November (more about that later).

Bill Uricchio — Library Director