Building on its history of improving services through assessment of users' expressed needs and preferences, VCU Libraries will conduct such a survey in 2013. A full report on the 2011 survey is now available online.
Many improvements have been made based on that data.
"It is a best practice for libraries to seek opinions of their users by tools including surveys and focus groups," said Michael Rawls, budget and assessment director for VCU Libraries. The trademarked LibQUAL survey, developed by the Association of Research Libraries and Texas A & M University, is used by many top research libraries. "It's the gold standard," said Rawls.
VCU Libraries uses LibQUAL-gathered information to assess and improve operations and collections. In the 2011 survey, students and faculty from all disciplines rated the customer service and professional knowledge of librarians highly. Perceptions of facilities and spaces improved significantly from the previous survey period. Heightened satisfaction can be largely attributed to improvements to the second floor of James Branch Cabell Library.
In the 2011 report:
- Patrons continued to think the facilities are crowded and sometimes noisy and insufficient to meet their study or research needs.
- Graduate students and faculty, groups who care most about the depth and breadth of collections, reported that adequacy of the collections have improved since 2008. But, faculty still see much room for improvement.
- Accessibility of information remained an issue for users in varied disciplines.
- The Web site was perceived by some users as difficult to navigate for finding information on their own.
VCU Libraries staff worked intensively to improve services, collections and spaces based on 2011 data. Highlights include:
- Design work is well underway to construct a new library building on the Monroe Park campus.
- Hours the libraries are open have been expanded on both campuses.
- Substantive renovations at libraries on both MCV and Monroe Park campuses created additional user space with improved furnishings and study conditions.
- A new one-button search function was introduced in 2012 to expedite online discovery of library materials.
- Alma, new technical infrastructure, was adopted in 2012 to add speed and efficiencies.
- Collections in all formats were expanded.
- A task force is working on a redesign of an improved Web site to launch in 2013.
The 2013 LibQUAL survey will be conducted online during the spring semester.