What Students Are Telling Us About How They Use the Libraries

By Anita Hall, Assessment Librarian

An incredible number of students visit our libraries every day, whether in person or online. We’re always trying to understand how they use the Libraries and how we can improve their experience. One way we get this feedback is through surveys. Recently, we participated in a campus-wide survey of students called the Student Support Services Survey (S4), conducted by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, which gave us lots of great information. Currently, the University Libraries is also conducting its bi-yearly Benchmark Survey to learn about student and faculty habits, needs and wishes in order to improve the Library experience for the University community.

Two students in the 102 alcove in Ekstrom Library

In the S4 survey, one of the things we really wanted to know was how students learn about the Libraries. This helps us decide how to reach out to students. Those who said they do use the Libraries in some way (in-person, online, or both) were most likely to learn about us from a campus tour, orientation, or resource fair (21.54%) or because of a course requirement (21.32%). Campus emails were not particularly helpful – only 1.98% said that they learned about the Libraries in this way. Good to know!

Here are some more of the top ways that students learned about the Libraries:

Which of the following helped you learn about the University Libraries?
Campus tour, orientation, or resources fair21.54%
Course requirement21.32%
A librarian came to my class11.10%
Blackboard10.00%
Academic Advisor8.35%
Freshman Guide6.70%
Recommendation from a friend5.49%

We also wanted to know why some students don’t use the Libraries. Most of these students said that they just haven’t needed to yet but will when the need arises (32.20%). Others say that they currently have access to all the resources they need to complete their coursework (22.03%). However, there were some students who said they either don’t know how to use the Libraries or don’t know what kinds of services and resources the Libraries offer (11.86% for each). We’ll be working hard to try and bring those numbers down before the next survey.

Another thing the Libraries wanted to know is what types of information skills we can help with. We asked how confident they are at several different tasks. Most students feel pretty confident with all of them, which is great. Below is a snapshot of the tasks that some said they are either not at all or not very confident in completing. We also asked questions about how and when they learned these skills, and their responses to those questions will help us work with professors to support them in teaching these skills. This might involve librarians leading instruction sessions in classes, creating online learning modules for Blackboard, or developing some of our own resources that can be accessed anytime. A great example of this is our Citizen Literacy resource, which has lots of great information about evaluating news sources.

Please rate your confidence in completing the following tasks:“Not at all Confident” or “Not very Confident”
Locate books and other materials required for an assignment9.41%
Locate scholarly, peer-reviewed materials when required for an assignment5.02%
Develop a research topic for an assignment5.06%
Cite sources appropriately when required for an assignment3.72%
Evaluate the trustworthiness of news and other web sources3.31%

Are you interested in providing more feedback about the Libraries? One great way is to join the Libraries Student Advisory Board. We’re always accepting new members! The Libraries will also be sending out our Benchmark Survey later in March 2021 – we have been using this survey for almost 20 years to get feedback about our spaces, services, and collections. This survey goes to a sample of the University community, so you may or may not receive a survey invitation. Watch your UofL email, and if you get one, please answer it! We really appreciate your time and responses.


2 Comments on “What Students Are Telling Us About How They Use the Libraries”

  1. […] What Students Are Telling Us about How They Use the Libraries (University of Louisville Libraries) […]

  2. […] What Students Are Telling Us About How They Use the Libraries […]


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