We want to know the good, the bad and the ugly about the University Libraries from faculty members and students*.  Every three years we undertake a survey called LibQual+, one of our two most important user surveys**, and the 2010 edition is now “open for business”.

Following is an invitation to participate from Brinley Franklin, UConn’s Vice Provost for Libraries:

“The University of Connecticut Libraries needs your help and participation in the Fall 2010 LibQUAL+TM Survey.

The LibQual+TM Survey has been used by more than 1,200 libraries internationally to periodically and consistently track, understand, and act upon their users’ opinions of library service quality.

As in the past, the LibQual+TM Survey results will inform our Libraries’ planning on how to best provide library services to the UConn community. This survey process has been reviewed by UConn’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) and all responses are confidential and will not be associated with a respondent’s e-mail address or other personal information.”

The link to the survey can be found in your e-mail. If you missed the e-mail (reminders also containing the link will be sent later), have questions, or need assistance in any way, please contact librarysurveys@uconn.edu

Please complete the survey by:  December 10, 2010

Thanks for participating!



One participating eligible student (grad or undergrad) will win a $500 GIFT CARD from the UConn Co-op!  Please note the “Fine Print” following for the contest rules.

Fine Print:  Participation in the drawing is optional.  Eligible students must be registered to take classes at the University of Connecticut during the Fall, 2010 semester; have completed no more than one online survey;  have entered an optional “uconn.edu” e-mail address at the time the online survey form is completed; not be an employee of the State of Connecticut, including student employees of the University, or of the UConn Co-op; permit the University of Connecticut to make public a photograph, name, home town, academic year and major of the winning entrant; agree to any rules and restrictions placed upon the use of the gift certificate by the UConn Co-op.


**And now, “the rest of the story”:

The University Libraries strives to be user centered and we have discovered through the years that surveys are an important way, if not the most important way,  for us to receive information  for planning at every level of the organization. Results from earlier versions of this particular survey, when combined with data from our  local surveys,  fed planning activities which led to the recent upgrades of facilities and equipment at the Trecker Library as well as large scale improvements to the University Libraries collection of digital resources among other significant advances.

The University Libraries conducts two comprehensive surveys on a three year cycle (the third year is devoted to internal organizational assessments).  This survey, LibQual+, is a product of the Association of Research Libraries and, because it is largely standardized, provides needed local information but also allows the University Libraries to compare itself to peer institutions utilizing the same instrument.  Peer to peer comparisons provide a useful perspective in determining our strengths and weaknesses.

The other comprehensive assessment is the User Survey, an entirely homegrown survey process.  The User Survey is tailored much more closely to the UConn environment than LibQual+ and so allows our questions to be more specific to our operations.  We lose the capability to do peer comparisons but we have found that the two surveys complement each other very nicely.

Common to both surveys is an overall satisfaction question, which we use to chart general progress, and also an optional open ended question which affords survey takers an opportunity to provide comments — often the most interesting outcome of any survey activity.

So, please take our survey — it is truly the best way to help us help you.

Bill Uricchio — Library Director


People drawn to the library profession generally want to work in lively settings with lots of contact with library clientele.  We’ve been distressed for a number of years by falling numbers for one of our key indicators — our door count.  The client count is taken automatically each time time someone goes through our exit turnstile and is recorded on a monthly and then annual basis.  Until recently the annual counts have been more or less steadily declining (although not as fast as our book circulation numbers but that is a topic of its own).

Busy Trecker Library

Door counts jump at the busy Trecker Library

The reasons for the declining counts are many and have affected other academic libraries as well.  Among the most significant is the ongoing movement away from paper and to digital resources which can be accessed without visiting libraries at all.   At Trecker, an additional factor has been the physical condition of the library which hardly has been an inducement for someone to want to come and, especially, to spend time here.

A post on this blog from a year ago, “New Furnishings Arrive”, signaled the fact that the University Libraries, with support from the University administration, was making a significant effort to improve the Trecker Library.  To make it, if you will, a “destination” for comfortable research and study, and not just a place to visit when required to do so.

In the interim between October and now, another round of equipment (some of it reported in “Time to Collaborate” below) and furnishings has been completed.

How have these upgrades been received?  We are looking forward to what we hope will be positive responses to questions about our “library as place” as part of a significant satisfaction survey being conducted by the Libraries this fall.  For now, though, we have already received some very good news about the door counts mentioned above:  Our 2009-10 counts are 33% higher than the same time period last year!  For us, given the door count’s history here , this is very exciting news indeed.

There is, of course, a downside to such a fantastic increase in usage:  more noise, fewer available seats, occasional waiting for SuperHomer computers, and so forth.  Rest assured, though, that we are already planning for improvements to alleviate some of those situations.  In the meantime, please continue to visit the library.  Your presence here is what “makes our day” in so many ways.

Bill Uricchio — Library Director


The Greater Hartford Campus holds a unique position within the UConn system:

Diversity banners adorn the Trecker Library

we are the University’s most diverse location with a population of over 40% drawn from ethnic and other minority groups.  In tribute to this cultural mosaic, which enlivens our campus community in many positive ways, Social Work Librarian Jan Lambert, assisted by Access Services Coordinator Claudia Lopes and Humanities and Sciences Librarian Marsha Lee, lead a project to install colorful banners bearing words encouraging multicultural fellowship.

The campus community was asked to submit proposed wording which supported our diversity theme.  Staff who had this project as a goal reviewed the words and made the final selection: Enrichment, Encouragement, Worth, Belonging, Respect, and Individuality. The banners, installed at the end of August,  hang on the main floor of the library.

For more information:  jan.lambert@uconn.edu

Bill Uricchio – Library Director


Mediascape in use

One of Trecker's new Media:scapes in action

If you find you learn better when studying and working with others, you are not alone.  One of the exciting newer trends in higher education is emphasis on collaborative learning which encourages studying and doing research in group settings.  For libraries, this means hosting  learning environments, including both quiet and group activity spaces, meeting a variety of educational needs.

To improve our group study capabilities, the staff of the Trecker Library spent the spring and summer planning, ordering and finally implementing advanced group study equipment and furnishings.  Two developments are especially noteworthy:

Media:scapes.  Two workstations offer state-of-the art technology for library clients with wireless laptops.  Six people  can separately connect the VGA video ports on computers to the Media:scape and one laptop image at a time will appear on a 42″ color monitor.  Each person has a switching device so the laptop images can be quickly rotated  as work progresses.  Check the video from the Media:scape people at this link for more information: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRATg7gJgMo

Media Room.  Anyone who has watched videos at the library in the past knows about the 3 chair Video Viewing Room.  It houses a 20″ CRT television and is on the third floor adjacent to rooms once holding the video collections.  Recently, a new Media Room was constructed on the Library’s main floor and the video collections were moved nearby.  The new room, which can be used as a group study space when videos are not being watched, contains a 46″ HDTV serving as either a computer or video monitor.  Fourteen headphones, some wired and some wireless, are available for group use.  The old Video Viewing Room still exists but individuals are welcome to watch videos in the Media Room as well.

Important Note: Media:scape users, and those intending to hook a laptop to the monitor in the Media Room, should visit ahead of time to be sure that they have the correct cable for the linkage to occur.

Bill Uricchio — Library Director


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


New! Customized Subject Toolbars!

Download a new toolbar for instant access to Library resources and services from any site on the Web

UConn Trecker Library now offers instant access to Library resources and services via subject toolbars available now for download. The toolbars are Internet Explorer/Firefox add-ons that allow you to search our library catalog straight from your browser while surfing the World Wide Web.

Public Policy

Social Work

Click on the toolbar you would like to download.

Downloading takes only a few seconds

Click here for a quick walk through of toolbar features


Library Toolbar Updates

Both Internet Explorer and Firefox should automatically detect updates. Additionally, from the main menu drop-down list, select Upgrade to get the latest toolbar version.


It’s free, with no spyware or viruses, does not open pop-ups or hijack your searches, and no personal information is required.

Removing/Uninstalling the Toolbar

Toolbar users can easily uninstall their toolbar at any time

For Firefox

From the Firefox menu, select Tools, then Add-Ons. Fine the entry for either UConn Library Soc Work or Public Policy toolbars. Select Uninstall, then Restart Firefox. You can also choose to simply disable the toolbar Add-On, and Enable it again whenever you choose.

For Internet Explorer

From the Start menu, select the Control Panel, then Add/Remove Programs. Look for the file UConn_Library _Public_Policy (or Soc_Work) Toolbar and choose the Change/Remove button.

Marsha Lee — Humanities and Sciences Librarian


The Trecker Library undertook a formal, written survey process during the early weeks of the 2009 fall semester to determine the satisfaction of students who attended our First Year Experience classes. As presently designed, the classes include a tour, an online/PowerPoint overview of services, and a PowerPoint history of the library & campus (which dates to 1939).

Questions which required responses on a 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) point scale covered both presentation and content.

The mean score for this set of questions for the 129 respondents was 4.4.

A second set of  questions, open ended in nature,  sought specific information useful for the improvement of the design and content of the classes.

Analysis Trends.

A review of the  comments accompanying each session revealed some interesting trends:

*Respondents in the earlier sessions valued each of the sessions reasonably equally with a slight edge given to the library/campus history.

*Respondents in the later sessions showed increasing interest in the tour and the library services parts of the presentation, especially where to find books and articles in the library and online.

*Scores and comments for the library services presentation improved when it was moved from an internet based offering to a more structured, hyperlinked PowerPoint presentation.

*The history part of the presentation received generally very high marks for its content but not as much support for its relevance to the overall presentation, especially for the later groups.


*The high mean score for satisfaction, 4.4. overall, suggests that students value and like the library’s FYE tour and presentations.

*The survey was a useful methodology to gather suggestions for improvement.

*The survey, when analyzed following each session, allowed us to respond effectively to issues and concerns and to make improvements in an ongoing manner.

*Similarities in the responses of each group suggest that is may be possible to do this survey with a subset rather than all of the FYE classes.

*If the FYE sessions are to be truly introductory sessions they need to occur very early in the semester.  Questions and comments received from FYE classes conducted later in September were often more suitable for answering in the upcoming, more detailed and focused, instructional classes.

*All three parts of the presentation — tour, overview and history – were valued by attendees but the history might do just as well, or better, being made part of a general campus introduction session for all new students (including transfers and others beyond the freshman year).

Appendix:  Sample Comments.

A.  Some things students liked as reported in the  open ended questions:

“Finding out where the books were located was the most useful part.”

“I enjoyed it.”

“I look forward to now using the library as a good source.”

“Seeing how to navigate the internet portion of the library.”

“The tour showed me where everything was.”

“I want to read even more after this session!  I want to become a History teacher and this session gave me more motivation to learn.  I loved the history of the campus.”

“I enjoyed how the instructor explained how virtually any book can be obtained from the majority of the UConn campuses.”

“Where she showed how to access books that are complementary to a class that we are taking.”

“Seeing where the private study area was.”

B.  Some suggestions as reported in the open ended questions:

“Some type of pamphlet about library searching or a map.”

“An online example of the web pages we saw so we know how to use them.”

“More walking around”

“Longer tour”


C.  And some comments that defied categorization:

“It was all legit”

“Well performed”

Our thanks go to the students and their instructors for a marvelous response to our survey.

—  William Uricchio, Library Director


As part of International Education Week activities on the Greater Hartford Campus, the Harleigh B. Trecker Library has opened an exhibit of international dolls and handicrafts. The exhibit will end just before Thanksgiving.

The dolls are from the collection of Professor Tatiana Serebriakova, World Club faculty advisor,  and are representative of the many countries she has visited. The needlework display is focused on handicrafts from countries in Asia, North America, Central America and South America.

The following photos provide a  sampling of our very colorful Trecker Library exhibit:

— Jan Lambert, Social Work Librarian


During the summer, virtually all of the Trecker Library’s public furniture, and much of its signage, was replaced.  Many of the worn items, which were sent to University Surplus in Storrs, can be seen in photographs of Trecker’s predecessor libraries dating as far back as the 1940’s making this event an important one in the history of our operations.  That the “old stuff”  lasted so long is a tribute to its manufacturers, our thrifty Yankee ways and, of course, the patience and forbearance of the Library’s users.  That the high-quality replacements  arrived on the scene is to the credit of University and University Libraries funders to whom we are deeply grateful.

Working with professional designers supplied at no cost to the University by the vendor, we explored a number of ways to make the Library more functional and more comfortable.  Visitors will find new colors, seating of different types, tables of varied heights, and advanced capabilities in our spaces.  Signage, designed and installed by UConn Libraries experts, now clearly identifies our group and quiet study rooms, delineates our policies and services, and points the way to our collections.  A hanging lobby sign, the first in our 24 years at this location, helps new clients find our front door.

Judging by the number of visitors who linger at the library, instead of quickly leaving as in the past, our soft seating, revised and updated “parlor”, and other welcoming areas seem to be meeting needs which were once left unfilled.

For the many who are visiting, or will visit,  the Trecker Library for the first time, some “now and then” photographs are illustrative:

A redesigned lobby area with new seating of different types and more open space:





Colorful tables and seating of various heights where ancient study carrels once were located:





State of the art computer tables at a central place which once housed file cabinets:





A “parlor” for relaxation, fellowship and study where reference librarians once worked:





New signs, greeting visitors arriving from either direction, near an updated service desk:





These, and many other, newly redesigned and refurnished library areas await your arrival — please come and enjoy them.

— William Uricchio, Library Director


The University of Connecticut has five regional campuses (not including the Health Center and Law School):  Avery Point (Groton), Greater Hartford (West Hartford), Stamford, Torrington and Waterbury.  Campus sizes range from around 2,000 students to less than 500 students and each campus has a library managed under the umbrella of the University Libraries, based at the “mothership” in Storrs.

The academic programs at each regional campus are also quite different with Avery Point serving as the University’s federal “Sea Grant” campus, Greater Hartford being home to the prestigious School of Social Work with its doctoral program and the Department of Public Policy, Torrington serving primarily undergraduates and Stamford and Waterbury working with their mixed undergraduate and graduate offerings.  To a very large extent, the academic programs drive the nature of, and differences between, the five regional campus libraries.

The Greater Hartford Campus traces its roots back to 1939 when it became the first significant teaching location beyond the main campus.  Through the years, it has maintained its role as the largest of the five regional campuses and so, in keeping with that status, its library — “our” library — is one of the busiest of the UConn libraries according to many important service statistics.

2008-2009 statistics showing the active state of the Trecker Library include:

Nearly 35,000 visitors
Just under 4,000 book circulations/renewals
Over 2,000 filled interlibrary loan requests
Almost 2,000 information questions responded to
Some 1,300 reference questions answered
Over 60 instruction & orientation sessions presented

Each new year brings difficult challenges but , “looking @ the numbers”, we take heart that our clientele continue to value the work that we do.

— William Uricchio, Library Director