Monday, June 29, 2009

Good things come from surveys

The graduate students were surveyed at my institution a while ago about their general college experience. Included on this questionnaire were two questions: one about things they really disliked/would change, and one about things they really liked. I don't know the exact wording, but that is the gist of it.

Even though they weren't specifically asked about the library, we still had about 20 comments (all but one in the negative category). Certain disciplines felt that we do not have nearly enough resources for them. This is a common complaint, and it's only partially true. Yes, as a small institution with an FTE somewhere in the range of 1300-1600 (I hear varying numbers, interestingly) we cannot afford more full text access, especially in this economy. However, we do have more than they think we do. They just don't know how to find it. My boss used this as an opportunity to suggest that we really need to get in to see these students. We met with a few of them once, and they were so grateful to know how to find the resources. If only we had more opportunities.

We did also receive one positive comment coupled with a suggestion. The student said that he/she loved studying in the library, but wished we had comfy chairs on the second floor, which is both our only quiet study floor and our only floor without comfy furniture! So, on Friday, one of my coworkers and I took two chairs from the main floor and moved them up to the second floor. We found two tables and put each chair and table combo in a separate location. We assume that since it is quiet study, students will study alone. However, I plan to keep on eye on whether or not these chairs are used. I'm up on the floor a lot anyway because I'm shifting books.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how to spruce up the place. I recently went went around and redid many of our signs, which included consolidating and taking down unnecessary ones (libraries have far too many signs!). This even included bugging IT to let me finally take down their No Food or Drink policy in the computer labs since they never enforce this. I also talked with a few of my coworkers about sprucing up our Individual Study Rooms with vases or pictures taken by the library staff. Not only does the latter add color, it also allows students to get some insight into the staff and our travels. Plus, I like to garage sale, and it would be easy enough to pick up frames and reimburse myself out of fine money. Before I do this, of course, I'll make sure everyone is on board. But it sounds like it could be fun.

Any other easy ideas for sprucing up the library?


Andrew said...

Hopefully your Director will be able to find some money to purchase some additional soft seating. I think it's a quick win with students, but the trade off is that the money needs to be found somewhere in the **cough** book **cough** budget.

I am beginning to think that sometime in the 70-80s the need for repeatative librarian signage was ingrained in library school students. For whatever reason, we had (note that word had) about 500 table tent signs sitting out in the stacks telling students not to reshelve books.

I'm not sure what your lighting situation is like, but perhaps another quick way to spruce up the place would be to go to IKEA and purchase either some table lights or floor reading lights for your comfy chairs. This would require there to be electricity nearby and someone would probably have to make sure they are shut-off at night. I think the pain might be worth it if you're looking for an inexpensive win.

Depending on the construction of your study rooms (ours have one entire wall of glass), you might also buy some static cling window decals or even the opaque plastic static cling roll that looks like rice paper (Home Depot or Lowes should have it) and apply it in a band or stripe.

Kate said...

Thanks for the suggestions! I'm not sure we'll be getting comfy seating this year. We do have a number of options currently, but just didn't have any on the second floor before.

We still have a lot of signs telling students not to reshelve books. Perhaps I should consider taking those down.

We actually have really good lighting in this building. I'm not sure a lamp would add any more - it's so bright already. But I'll be paying attention to see if any areas are darker than others.

Amazingly enough, all of our windows have blinds, which students open and close whenever they want. I am not sure about the individual study rooms though, so I should check on those.

What we really need is more outlets. I should ask my boss about that again.

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