We’re humbled (and pleasantly surprised!) that a recent Scrawl article gave a welcome “shout out” to the library. The article, “Memo to the Next President,” gave recommendations about how to improve the university. The first priority considered school operations, and encouraged the administration to survey students in order to learn what they think needs to be improved. The author observed, “Here the library deserves a special shout out: they solicit input every year (and even try to beat their previous record of responses!). I suspect some suggestions are good, some have already been tried, and some are impossible. Simply having the data, however, allows them to create accurate metrics of quality, discern changing needs, and be on the lookout for industry best-practices.”
Discerning the needs of our patrons has certainly been the library’s goal in conducting its surveys. We used the results of our recent surveys to benchmark our services against other university libraries and to determine our strengths and weaknesses. These surveys were also valuable for discovering what students care about and what they want to see changed. In addition, more focused surveys allowed us to solicit specific feedback on possible projects and improvements.
The surveys have affirmed what we do well here at Rolfing, yet have also identified problems. Thanks to a recent survey, we discovered that students gave positive ratings to the service provided by librarians and staff. One patron commented, “The staff are always helpful, courteous and wonderful. Any improvement needed is more on the side of resources and services.” (Thanks, dear patron!) This and other responses suggested that resources and the library building were the greatest areas of concern. Our surveys confirmed that students want access to a greater number of books and journals, both in print and online. Patrons also desire a more pleasant study environment: better lighting, more numerous electrical outlets, a more stable temperature, comfier furniture, and an inviting yet studious atmosphere.
As the Scrawl article noted, it can be difficult to make needed changes in response to feedback. One of the major limitations for the library has been budget issues — all these requests cost money (crazy, I know)! Despite our financial limitations, Rolfing staff has worked to find innovative ways to move forward and make some of the improvements you’ve requested. For example, we can’t afford to redo the lighting in the library, but we can (and do!) provide desk lamps for students to check out. Other improvements include our coffee machine, a new vending machine, and a scanner. We’ve also recently purchased new furniture: study chairs, “comfy” lounge chairs, and laptop tables. Recently, we partnered with the GSGA to purchase and install whiteboards in our study rooms. We do hear your requests, and we’re striving to make improvements — albeit small ones — whenever and wherever possible.
Your input is crucial in identifying what changes we should make. We continue to value your critiques and comments, especially as the world of libraries and higher education changes. As the Scrawl article noted, feedback is the best way for us to improve. We always appreciate your suggestions — keep ’em coming!
Rebecca Miller is Head of Public Services at Rolfing Memorial Library. If you have any ideas to share, please post a comment below or email Rebecca.