In 2004, the University Libraries surveyed undergraduate and graduate students using the LibQUAL+ survey tool. Survey results are summarized below.
LibQUAL+ rated participants' responses to queries on three service dimensions. For each dimension there were several queries. For each query the participant was asked to note, on a scale of 1-9, the minimum level of service they would find acceptable, the perceived level of service they associated with the item, and finally the desired level of service for the item. The dimensions and their associated items to be scored included:
Over 202 U.S. and international libraries participated in the LibQUAL+ 2004 survey. A total of 112,000 respondents were included.
Notices about the survey were sent to a sample of 6000 undergraduate email addresses and all 5570 graduate email addresses (including extended campus) in spring 2004. Since many students use email services other than those from Virginia Tech (e.g., Hotmail) we cannot be sure how many students actually received the mailings.
Earlier LibQUAL+ surveys at Virginia Tech included faculty. We conducted a LibQUAL+ survey in Spring 2005 for faculty.
Usable responses were received from 1381 students: 529 (9% of email addresses) undergraduates and 852 (15% of email addresses) graduate students. Discipline areas noted by respondents were selected from a national framework of categories, so do not directly track Virginia Tech's colleges and subject areas, but are similar to Virginia Tech's subject areas. Respondents appeared to reflect the distribution of subject areas in which Virginia Tech students are enrolled. Charts reflecting respondent demographics include:
Most of the charts included here compare values for Virginia Tech undergraduate and graduate students with the average for the undergraduates and graduate students from those ARL member libraries also participating in the 2004 survey. We are one of several libraries which have participated since the beginning of the LibQUAL+ project. Other libraries choose to participate and then skip years. We believe that habits associated with information seeking and using are changing so fast that annual surveys, at least for parts of our community of users, are appropriate.
Other ARL libraries participating in 2004 included:
Virginia Tech undergraduates and graduate students use library resources – in person or electronically – less frequently than do undergraduates and graduate students at ARL libraries. Undergraduates indicate significantly less library use – physical or electronic - than do undergraduates at other ARL libraries.
Gaps between what our students perceive and the service level they would like to have on the LibQUAL service dimensions
The survey provided a comments section for participants. More than a third of the respondents chose to use this feature (552, 40%). Almost half the graduate students included comments in their responses (407, 48%) as did about a quarter of the undergraduates (145, 26%). These comments included both positive and negative input regarding a number of library services.
Some respondents made comments which included more than one topic. To look at these aspects we created a separate list of 585 overall comments and asked the directors of the library service units to respond as appropriate. We view this as a way to communicate with all of our users who may have the same questions or comments. Lists of comments were divided into four areas and their responses are noted below.
Several common themes were apparent in the written comments/suggestions. Frequently mentioned topics attracting positive and/or negative input included:
The survey tests a variety of dimensions of library service, each represented by multiple (and seemingly redundant) questions. The use of multiple/redundant questions allows analysis of the validity of each dimension through statistical means.
We know that databases, journals, and books are important to you and that most people want to see more of them in the library. The best way to describe where we are, where we'd like to be, and why we aren't completely there is to divide this subject into its key components: money, electronic databases including journals, and books.
We spend a greater proportion of our budget for library materials than does the average research library, but our overall budget is at a level that causes the Virginia Tech Libraries to rank as 102nd out of the 114 academic libraries in the Association of Research Libraries. Our funding for materials has been essentially static since FY97. We're fortunate that we've been able to acquire some strong new resources and to have avoided for seven years the massive serial cancellations that were a way of life for us in the 90's. However, we foresee the need to reduce subscriptions and other resources again unless funding improves quickly and substantially.
Thanks in part to VIVA (the Virtual Library of Virginia, a state-supported initiative for higher education libraries) and in part to the priority we place on electronic resources, we have most of the standard abstracting and indexing databases. And thanks to emerging technologies applied with lots of backroom work on our part, these indexes increasingly link directly to the content in the journal itself. What we don't have can largely be attributed to our budget or to the uneven pace of conversion to electronic publication within the scientific and scholarly communities. Some societies and publishers still haven't offered electronic versions of their journals.
We look as proactively as we can for these but are always glad to learn of opportunities we may have missed to switch to electronic format. If you discover that something is now available electronically, please tell us. We do offer over 6,000 full text electronic journals, with selected content from a larger number of publications available in various aggregations like InfoTrac, Lexis, or Factiva. One piece of good news is that, thanks to creative thinking and a willingness to enter new partnerships on the part of both our Collection Management and Acquisitions units, we are participating in a number of ad hoc consortia and deals with various publishers that give us electronic access to well over 1,500 important new journals to which we did not have previous subscriptions, and for prices comparable to the subset that we have always subscribed to. The addition of new digital resources from critical societies and other publishers was the main emphasis identified in the Virginia Tech Information Needs Project we undertook with the cooperation of all eight colleges this past spring and remains our highest priority.
We're very aware that book buying in recent years has been off our past standards and that it shows: we have too few recent editions, too few copies of high use items, too few specialized monographs and proceedings. We do have a fairly large approval plan that brings us most of the monographic publications of university presses and a large number of mainstream societies and trade publishing houses, but these titles need constantly to be supplemented by discretionary purchases that fill in the gaps. We've been able to increase funding for such items in the current fiscal year and are using the opportunity to make up lost ground, but our ability to sustain this level of investment is a year-to-year hostage to the larger budgetary picture.
With our limited funds we tend to concentrate our dollars on providing the collections, resources, and services that are wanted and will be used by many of the members of the Virginia Tech community. Within this context the University Libraries tries to maintain service hours similar to those of other like-sized research libraries. Within the state, the libraries' hours of service compare favorably to the other state institutions. With the increase in online resources that are available to users in their homes and offices, access to many of our research resources are available 24/7. Most research libraries are not entirely open around the clock. Some do have smaller restricted areas closed off for round-the-clock studying, but most do not provide 24/7 access to physical collections or services.
In response to the evaluations and comments regarding ease of web use in the LibQUAL+ 2003 and 2004 surveys, the library conducted two studies regarding web design in late spring 2004. Focus groups were used to solicit user input regarding content that should be included on the library web, and an online survey was conducted over several weeks to ask users to rate the web designs of each ARL library to better understand how appearance and arrangement could facilitate use. An updated library web site was introduced before the Fall 2004/05 term.
We know that using the resources of the University Libraries can be daunting because of the size of Newman Library, the size of the collections, and the number of resources that can be accessed electronically. We provide in-person assistance at all of the branch libraries and on the 1st and 4th floors of Newman Library. We have electronic help available via our email and chat reference services, linked from Ask a Librarian. There are maps and signs designed to help you find things located in all of the building; electronic versions of the Newman maps are online. Tours are offered several times a week during the academic semesters; the schedule is available online.
Please don't hesitate to ask for help – that's why we're here!
The library does need updating and modernizing. In July 2000, we worked with the University to develop a Modernization Master Plan to bring the library facility into the 21st century. This plan calls for improved comfort for our users as well as new spaces for collections and conducting research. Renovation is a costly process and unfortunately we will be able to implement the modernization plan only as funding becomes available, which, so far has been primarily through donor gifts. However, our users will begin to see some results of our implementation process of the plan this spring term when we expand our Special Collections/Digital Library space. We are also planning phase 2, which will include a café in the remaining space of the current lobby area and additional space for Special Collections.
Photocopying Services is an auxiliary service within the University Libraries. All expenses related to the costs of equipment and personnel must be recovered from the income of providing copying services, and income has been going down as less copying becomes the norm- not only for us, but for most research libraries across the country. Our pricing structure is set-up to not compete with commercial services in the locale. Our goal is to provide copying for library materials, not all types of copying. Consequently, we do not offer specialized copying services available commercially in Blacksburg.
As a result of the 2003 LibQUAL+ Survey, when users expressed extreme unhappiness with the photocopying service and equipment, we immediately responded. We consolidated all the copying machines on the 4th floor to create a more centralized function of the service. This ensures users that a workable machine is available. Employees at the service desk can immediately respond to problems and/or assist patrons using the equipment. While we know some users are unhappy about not having copiers on each floor, this allows us to balance the costs with functionality for many in a way that creates a trade-off that works best for most of our users. For those users needing to copy a large number of books and/or journals, book trucks are available at the Photocopy Service Desk. Additionally, at each elevator on the floors, hand baskets are available for collecting large numbers of library materials.
As part of our effort to improve the services to our users, we are offering customer service training to everyone in the library. We also have an ongoing refresher program designed to help staff stay abreast of the changes that regularly take place with our electronic resources. We're experimenting with double staffing the reference desk in the lobby of Newman Library as this will allow staffers to more regularly accompany our patrons to other parts of the building to find needed materials. In addition, we've instituted an open-door policy on the 2nd – 5th floors of Newman Library: If you see an open door that means that the person in that office is willing to have people drop in and ask for assistance.
The library catalog system has been in place at University Libraries since 1975, with the web-based public interface added in 1998. In the fall of 2004 the University Libraries invited proposals from library systems vendors for a new integrated library system. We anticipate that a new system will be available for our users by fall of 2005. We look forward to implementing many new features for patrons and staff when the process is completed.
The format of this report was adapted from Louisiana State University's LibQUAL Report. Thanks to those who go before. Please direct any questions about the report or overall library issues to Don Kenney, Associate Dean for Administrative Services, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributors to the report include, Don Kenney (Editor), Harry Kriz, Paul Metz, Leslie O'Brien, Nan Seamans, and Ross Edmonds. A special thanks to Octavio L. Fermin for his technical assistance and general editing.
Sun, May 19: 9:00am - 6:00pm
Mon-Fri, May 20-24: 7:30am - 8:00pm
Sat-Sun, May 25-26: 9:00am - 6:00pm
Mon, May 27: Closed
Sun, May 19: Closed
Mon-Fri, May 20-24: 8:00am - 5:00pm
Sat-Mon, May 25-27: Closed
Mon-Thu, May 13-16: 11:00am - 10:00pm
Fri, May 17: 11:00am - 6:30pm
Sat, May 18: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Sun, May 19: Closed
Mon-Fri, May 20-24: 11:00am - 6:30pm
Sun, May 19: Closed
Mon-Fri, May 20-24: 8:00am - 5:00pm
Sat-Mon, May 25-27: Closed