Since 2010, the Library has conducted a triennial in-library use survey to gauge library users' habits and preferences. It assesses whether the Library's spaces, services, and resources adequately serve our users. The Library has successfully used these results to advocate for funding and resources that would enable us to provide the kind of library experience that our students need and want. For example, the addition of multiple technology-equipped study rooms, the expansion of our computer lab, and the availability of tech paraphernalia (chargers, headphones, etc.) were all possible because we could point to the triennial surveys' results in our tech fee proposals.

Over the years, these periodic surveys have allowed us to capture the Library's evolving role in students' educational lives. Not less importantly, they also document a few longstanding and stable trends that have stayed the same for over a decade. Our most recent In-Library Use Survey, conducted in November 2022, highlights both. Since we conducted the previous survey in the Fall of 2019, the 2022 survey offered us the first comprehensive insight into how the pandemic has impacted how users interact with the Library in an educational context transformed by COVID-19.

Over a week in mid-November of 2022, at set times during the day, our staff and librarians distributed paper surveys to students and faculty physically present in the Library. Overall, we collected 657 responses. The survey included questions from previous instances, but we also amended and added queries to account for the post-pandemic shift to hybrid and online learning.

The following slides highlight the most interesting and even unexpected findings.

  • Surprisingly, the frequency of students' visits to the Library has not changed much between 2019 and 2022:

Chart 1: How often do you visit the Library?

  • Similarly, the main reason students come to the Library (to study or work individually) has stayed the same. (Indeed, it had remained the #1 reason since 2010, when we first asked this question.)

However, the survey captured some emerging trends. We now know that the Library space is key for students' well-being: it is the 2nd main reason they visit the Library is to rest and relax.

The survey documented other new uses for the Library: students come in to work on their own devices (and rely on our wi-fi) and to attend classes on Zoom.

Chart 2: Why did you come to the Library today?

  • When asked what is most important to them, as far as the Library spaces, services, and resources go, the 2022 cohort of users did not differ much from their 2019 predecessors. Once again, the results highlight that the Library is key for those who need quiet space for studying alone. Similarly, the demand for electrical outlets continues. Not surprisingly, the importance of Library in-person assistance, computers, scanners, and printers declined between 2019 and 2022.

Chart 3: Percentage of students who agree that the following are important or very important

As we have done in the past, we are working with the survey results to ensure the Library continues to meet the needs and expectations of our users. While the shifts in use pattern our survey captured may or may not be permanent, we are responding to what our users told us. We recently added another laptop bar on the Library's upper level that allows students to work with their devices. Our new tech fee proposals include requests for lamps, and we are reconfiguring the Library space to accommodate quiet and social study areas.

--Marta Bladek