Photograph of the Niederhoffer Lounge in the Library

Since 2010, the Library has been conducting in-library use surveys every three years. The last one we ran was in November 2019, the last fall semester before the COVID-19 pandemic transformed our teaching and learning lives. To capture and record formally the changes in how students use the Library and its resources in the aftermath of the pandemic, we are conducting the survey again this November.

The in-library use survey targets patrons already in the physical space in the Library. Consequently, we get to learn how and why students come to the Library and how library spaces, services, and resources serve their needs. Between 2010 and 2019, there was some strong and consistent trends. Throughout the years students identified the Library as an important place for individual study and, tellingly, they reported visiting the Library at least twice a week.

As the in-library use survey provides us with insights into how the Library matters in students’ educational and campus experience, we also take note of the ways in which the Library falls short of meeting the community’s expectations. For example, based on the feedback from previous surveys, the Library built additional study rooms, expanded a computer lab, and expanded the number of outlets throughout the space.

Now that we are getting ready to administer the survey again, we are looking forward to learning about what has changed and what has remained the same as far as students’ use of the Library goes. Although in our daily work, we do note some emergent trends in library use (e.g., students use more personal devices than they did in 2019 and the reasons to come to the Library now include taking Zoom classes and online exams), the survey will allow us to understand the extent of the change better. As we have done in the past, we also plan on using the survey’s results as a data-backed argument for requesting specific resources that we currently do not provide. Closing the
assessment loop in this way will allow the Library to better serve students who now use the Library and its resources in a transformed educational context. We plan to report on the results of the 2022 survey in the spring 2023 issue of Classified Information, the library newsletter.

-- Marta Bladek

Photograph of the Niederhoffer Lounge in the Library