Students voice their opinion on Falvey’s services, staff, resources and facilitiesBy Merrill Stein
At the end of the 2005 spring semester, students had an opportunity to describe how they use Falvey Memorial Library and how they perceive certain aspects of the Library. Surveys were randomly distributed to approximately 600 students over a two-day period both in Falvey and at the University Shop during book buy-back days. A total of 544 surveys were completed.
With a 4.0 out of 5.0 rating (1=strongly disagree and 5=strongly agree), students strongly agreed that the atmosphere in Falvey was conducive to studying. Book and journal holdings were seen as “adequate” for respondents’ disciplines (3.6), as were library hours (3.7). The library group study rooms were “just adequate” (3.0) and there was disagreement about whether the temperature in the building was appropriate to the season (2.9).
In a related series of statements about how they perceive library services, students strongly agreed that the laptop loan service and wireless network connectivity services were very adequate. At the same time, they would prefer more laptop connections and more computers. Students expressed general satisfaction with network printers, photocopying, services and the Holy Grounds coffee shop.
Students also ranked, on the same 5-point scale, the extent to which staff members and each department met their needs. Students gave consistently high ratings for each library department with strong agreement that “Library staff members are helpful” (4.5) and “The service desks meet my needs” (4.4). Respondents also agreed that staff respond accurately and promptly.
Among both on-campus and off-campus students, the predominant use of the Library was for studying alone, followed by conducting research (books, periodicals or online resources), studying with a group and, finally, accessing the Internet.
The Library conducts a student satisfaction survey approximately every three years and is currently preparing an online version of the survey for 2006.
Concerning the frequency with which students used information resources, the Internet was consulted most frequently, followed by the library catalog, books and electronic journals.
Generally survey respondents indicated that when they can’t find an item in the Library they access material on the Internet or will often ask library staff for assistance. Many students indicated that they also went to friends for help in these cases.
Regarding the adequacy of space and facilities, students strongly agreed that the library atmosphere is conducive to studying, that book and journal holdings in respondents’ disciplines are adequate and that hours and lighting are adequate. Students felt more strongly on this survey that there were insufficient large study tables in the building. Building temperature control, though still not seen as adequate, improved slightly over previous years and substantially since the 1996 survey.
Students also took the time to write some very thoughtful comments about improving the Library. Comments regularly included the desire for more computers in the Library. In response, more laptops have been added to the popular laptop loan program. As with previous student surveys, comments included increasing operating hours for the entire Library besides the 24-hour study lounge, improving exit and lounge re-enter procedures at closing, and regulating temperature control overall but especially at times of seasonal change.
Students commented that brighter lights and colors throughout the Library were also desired, as was an ATM machine. They also wished for more leisure and general reading books. This concern has been addressed by an enhancement of the popular reading collection and, in part, by the addition of a new audio book collection at Falvey, which is rotated among La Salle, Villanova and St. Joseph’s University. It may be a little more difficult to address the comment requesting “TV, showers and free beer.”
Respondents were overwhelmingly full-time, undergraduate, day students with 70% living on-campus and 30% off-campus. Those completing the survey were mainly Arts students from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, followed by those enrolled in Commerce & Finance, and then those in the Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, respectively. Most respondents were in their first two years of enrollment at Villanova, and 61% had completed less than five semesters.
More students in 2005 reported going to the Library three or more times per week than in previous years. Larger percentages of the students surveyed in 2005 used the Library for computer access (Internet, e-mail, word processing) and for studying in groups or socializing. The percentage of students who study alone in the Library also increased over the years. 67% of respondents use the Library more during finals. Not surprisingly, a large percentage of students used the Library to conduct research and to borrow books.
Kathy Nazar and the staff at the Office of Planning, Training & Institutional Research (OPTIR) assisted with the preparation and interpretation of the survey, and many library staff members participated in the survey effort.
Merrill Stein is the Assessment team leader.