If you have visited the library in the past few months you certainly will have noticed that the number of people using our various spaces has increased tremendously. Based on recent surveys, we are certain that among the reasons for this change, which is an increase of over 30% from a year ago, are our reconfigured spaces and many new furnishings.
Although our strategies to improve the usability, look and comfort of the library appear to have us moving in the right direction, we are always wondering if we can still make improvements for our users.
To this end, we joined with the other four regional campus libraries (Avery Point, Stamford, Torrington and Waterbury) to develop an online survey process. Although slightly different at each location, the surveys were designed to poll our campus communities about how our spaces and furnishings are being used and in support of planning for future upgrades.
Our online survey was conducted in late February and early March. Along with questions about specific usage, we included an open ended comments box and an invitation to respondents to join us for a focus group to provide further context to the survey results.
A future blog entry will summarize the results of the focus group. This posting is to provide an overview of the findings of the survey process itself.
Beginning with some demographics, we received 54 responses with the vast majority of respondents being master’s degree students from the University’s School of Social Work, which is headquartered here, and undergraduates from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. These two groups represent the largest elements of our overall campus population. We also received twelve comments and, while mostly positive, they pretty much “covered the map” and there were no obvious themes that emerged from them.
Regarding space use, the following pie chart summarizes responses:
Observation: The general seating areas are all frequently used, less so the two specialized areas for videos and multi-media.
The following pie chart provides an overview of which furnishings are used:
Observation: The variety of furnishings are all in used in similar manner.
The following bar chart provides more specific information on what is used, and what isn’t used:
Observations: Soft chairs are the most popular seating type. The main floor seating to the right of the entrance, which we call “The Parlor”, and the Quiet Study Room have the heaviest usage. Least used, as noted earlier, are the video and media rooms.
This table indicates which items listed in our survey were “unknown” to respondents:
Observations: The fact that many respondents seem unaware of the existence of the video and media rooms is consistent with the previously reported lower usage of both of those spaces. This probably means the library needs to do a better job of marketing those services. The same can be said for the main floor lobby room, also known as the Social Work History Room, which is directly across from the library’s entrance and which contains one of our two hi-tech Media:scape workstations. It may also be that terminology like “Media-scape” is not descriptive enough to let users know what it is and what it does.
Finally, comments about space use included:
“It would be nice for more large chairs. Sometimes they are a turn off though because they have stuff spilt on them.”
“The study spaces upstairs doesn’t seem to receive as much attention in terms of design the way the area downstairs does. Better, updated design would aid in more students choosing to study upstairs.”
“Our study group used the room directly across from entrance on the main floor for co-writing an assignment together. It was extremely helpful to see our work on the large screen.”
In conclusion, we are happy to learn that, speaking generally, our new spaces and furnishings are in steady use by library visitors. That said, we most likely need to ramp up publicity about our many services so we can reduce the percentage of library users who responded “Don’t Know About” on the survey form. Hopefully, we will learn more when the focus group convenes.
Our many thanks go to those who responded to the survey.
Bill Uricchio – Library Director