Van Pelt Library released a survey earlier this month to gauge undergraduate students' perspectives about the library's services and how to improve their experiences.
The 2018 Van Pelt Library Experience Survey is the first-ever user-experience survey that is part of the library's strategic plan to fit students' needs. The survey asks students about their visits to the library and to rank their preferences of services for "future consideration," including extended hours of operation and more course textbooks available to reserve.
“The survey was intended to get feedback on their services. It is really meant to get a sense of how our users are using the spaces and accessing different resources," Student Engagement librarian Katherine Ahnberg said. "It is looking at the everyday experience of the students.”
Ahnberg was recently hired to the position six months ago. The position itself is fairly new. It was created last year to better gauge students’ feedback and interests and to increase outreach to the student body.
Associate University librarian for User Services and Resource Management Jon Shaw said Van Pelt library is constantly trying to get student feedback.
Shaw mentioned that in 2015, Van Pelt formed a strategic plan for various possible services to test. The library began testing services such as having a requested book stored at the circulation desk or scanning specific pages in a book. All of these services did not exist prior to 2015.
Shaw said that a few years after implementing their strategic plan and performing internal assessments, the library has reached a "reflective point" where "we figured it would be nice to do this user survey just to see how we are doing."
There has been a surge of circulation of the 2018 Van Pelt Library Experience Survey showing up in the library, emails, dining halls, and all over Facebook. Van Pelt has intentionally reached out to the Undergraduate Assembly and cultural centers on campus to continue bumping their survey.
“The library as a system is trying to engage with the students. I think that there is a majority of students who haven't really interfaced with the library very much at all. They are trying to figure out what you like about what we have now, and what can we do more in terms of programming,” UA president and College junior Michael Krone said.
Engineering freshman Catherine Liang said she would like to see renovations to Van Pelt, calling the basement "a little dingy," and open hours 24/7. However, she added that she does not expect much to change.
College freshman Elizabeth Kim said Van Pelt's hours are long enough, but she would appreciate if the library "will try to send out library resources to undergrads in a more clear and concise manner...Van Pelt has so much to offer that it can be overwhelming."
Shaw said the new Moelis Grand Reading Room is a recent example of the library taking student opinion into account. After the Weigle Information Commons, a collaborative space, was created, students began requesting for an area for more "contemplative study." This helped formulate a plan for the Grand Reading Room. The library created it so that one end has a collaborative space and the other end has an area for more individualized, quiet studying.
Van Pelt is also planning to ask graduate students about their library experience, too.
“We are getting grad student feedback to know what are the communities asking for and what are the specific communities. It really is a proactive, deliberative way to work with students to develop future needs,” Shaw said.
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