Assessing Our Libraries

Today’s post is written by Dean Bob Fox.


Not long after my arrival as the new Dean of University Libraries in February 2011, we set about creating a strategic plan that would guide the libraries through 2020. The end product of that planning process can be found on our website at:

Dean FoxOne goal that emerged clearly during the planning process was that we needed to develop a deep understanding of our users’ information and service needs if we were to be effective in meeting those needs. We’ve already taken several steps to initiate an assessment plan for the libraries. First, we created an undergraduate student advisory board to provide ongoing feedback on how we can improve our Belknap campus libraries. This group met three times during spring semester and will be active again starting this fall. We hope to eventually expand this to include graduate and professional students on both the Belknap and Health Sciences campuses.

Second, in the spring, we conducted a campus-wide survey of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students. We’re still sifting through the volumes of data generated by the survey but already have identified areas needing improvement. The most frequent complaint noted by Ekstrom Library users was the lack of available electrical outlets. Over the summer, we have added 490 new outlets in the older eastern side of Ekstrom and hope to add more outlets to the newer wing later in the year. Students also complained that the third and fourth floors of Ekstrom did not provide enough quiet study space and they did not like to use those floors as the spaces were very worn and dirty. We are working on plans to transform and modernize the fourth floor into a great quiet individual study space and hope to work with Justin Brandt and the SGA to obtain campus funding needed for this project. Using survey data, we also met with the campus food service provider recently to address concerns and ideas noted about the Tulip Tree Cafe.

Our third recent effort to learn more about our users has been the creation of a position called the User Experience/Assessment librarian. This person will lead library efforts to make sure we listen to users and follow through on what we hear to help provide the very best possible learning experiences and support to our students and faculty.

These are some of our recent efforts to learn more about our user needs and how we can help meet those needs. What other ideas do you have to help us improve our resources and services?

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