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Why students use university libraries and what they use them for

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Presentation from ARLG Conference 2016

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Why students use university libraries and what they use them for

  1. 1. WHY STUDENTS USE UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES AND WHAT THEY USE THEM FOR: A LONGITUDINAL STUDY Katie Burn (University of York) and Matt Cunningham (Loughborough University)
  2. 2. Introduction • Shared interests in how Library buildings are being used • Based on approach developed by York they called ‘grab and go’ using iPad • Using two universities made the results more powerful than a single institution • If university libraries do not develop insight and awareness into why and how staff/ students use their buildings, there is a real risk that spaces will not be fit for purpose
  3. 3. Similarities and differences between Loughborough and York Universities and their Libraries Loughborough University and its Library York University and its Library Year founded 1966 1963 Number of students c. 15,000 c. 16, 500 Size of campus 438 acres 200 acres Size of Library 9161 sq. m. 19,998 sq. m Book stock 500,000 1,000,000 Number of study space in Library 1370 1321 Date of refurbishment and cost 2013 (£4.7 million) 2012 (£20 million) Opening hours Varies between 24/7 at exam and revision times and 8.5 hours in some vacations 24/7 362 days per year
  4. 4. Questions asked (after course and year) • What is the purpose of your visit today? (people can select multiple answers) Finding an individual study space Finding a group study space Using resources to study Meet friends/eat/socialise Getting help from staff – Library Getting help from staff – IT Borrow or return items Use a PC Photocopy/print/scan To attend class or workshop Use the Library cafe Other • How often do you visit the Library (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly. Other) • Do you use other spaces on campus to study/work? • Have you brought a laptop or tablet to use today?
  5. 5. 2015 survey results • Users interviewed as they entered or left Library in February 2015 • 495 responses at Loughborough and 238 from York • Analysed using Tableau software • Report created using Googledocs
  6. 6. Breakdown by user groups 2015
  7. 7. Purposes of visits (similarities and differences) Overall the undergraduate results for Loughborough and York are very similar. Differences include: • higher proportion of York students (30.19%) are using the Library for individual study (18.71% at Loughborough) • printing and photocopying feature in the results for UGs at Loughborough (11.72%) but not highly at York (5.3%) • meeting friends whilst listed at York (8.75%) is not strongly featured at Loughborough (3.86%) • PGs again use for individual study is much higher at York (30.19%) than at Loughborough (18.71%).
  8. 8. Example of results by academic discipline 2015
  9. 9. Frequency of Library visits 2015 Weekly usage Loughborough % York % UG 1 73.58 64.44 UG 2 66.17 47.76 UG 3 60.22 34.6 UG 4 60.34 50.00
  10. 10. 1-1 interview held with 25 Loughborough University students • WHY USE THE LIBRARY? • WHY DO STUDENTS NOT USE THE LIBRARY? • WHICH PARTS OF THE LIBRARY BUILDING DO YOU MOST USE? • HOW OFTEN DO YOU USE THE LIBRARY? • WHAT MAKES THE LIBRARY DIFFERENT? • WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE LIBRARY? • WHAT DO YOU THINK OF ONLINE RESOURCES?
  11. 11. Why do students not use the Library? • Most common themes • Too far away • Library is too full • Library is too crowded and noise • Too stressful at examination times • Other themes • Better software/ pcs elsewhere • Knowing that copies of textbooks required will not be there • Library seen as boring • Online information is accessible so don’t need to use Library building
  12. 12. What is the purpose of the Library? Most common themes • Provide welcoming and stimulating environment • Make available everything in one place • Give access to different learning spaces • Deliver collection of books
  13. 13. 2016 Survey • Survey repeated in Feb 2016 • 880 responses (715 from Lboro – 81%) • An additional question was added to this survey regarding user perceptions about silent study areas as Lboro wanted info on this • Different software used “Qualtrics” – easier to export results and gave both institutions access to raw data • Data below is for UGs, but we have info on all segments available
  14. 14. Breakdown by user groups 2016 # Answer Response % 1 Undergraduate Year 1 181 20% 2 Undergraduate Year 2 192 21% 3 Undergraduate Year 3 217 24% 4 Undergraduate Year 4 114 13% 5 Taught Postgraduate 82 9% 6 Research Postgradute 50 6% 7 Academic Staff 20 2% 8 Support/Admin Staff 28 3% 9 Other 13 1% Total 897 100%
  15. 15. Purpose of visit 2016 • The top two reasons were the same in both institutions: finding an individual study space and using library resources to study • York outscored Lboro (53% v 42%) as they had for the top purpose last year and the second category was roughly equal (32% York v 33% Lboro) • Third result was different – Using a PC at Lboro and Borrowing/returning items at York
  16. 16. Frequency of usage 2016 Daily usage Lboro % York % UG1 24 40 UG2 25 61 UG3 28 63 UG4 43 100 Weekly usage Lboro % York % UG1 60 52 UG2 66 32 UG3 60 33 UG4 45 0
  17. 17. Lessons learnt -1 • Don’t get Lboro involved in a competition – our sporty ethos means the students want to “win” • It is possible to work collaboratively across different institutions using tools such as Googledocs and Skype • Libraries play an integral role in the informal learning strategies of higher education • Paper surveys are a thing of the past – new software gives instant access to results • Snapshot surveys are a good tool for focusing on specific issues
  18. 18. Lessons learnt - 2 • Know where to stop – a relatively large data set is generated even from a few questions. When should you stop analysing and start doing? • Having said that, sometimes you have to “go big” to start with to know where to stop • Gathering data is the easy part – the analysis is what takes the time, especially if no extra resources are allocated to the survey. It is much easier the second time round. • There is an obvious gap in the data – we only surveyed people in the library – what about the people who don’t use our service?
  19. 19. Next actions? • The collaboration has provided the libraries with further insight into how people use the building, which will be used to inform space management decisions at both universities • Surveys like ours help prove the impact and value of investing in Library space: e.g. York has already increased silent study spaces in Burton library as direct result of feedback. • Future surveys at Loughborough will take place in a variety of spaces across campus, not just in the Library to give a wider picture of usage patterns
  20. 20. Inspiring Winners Since 1909 Thank you! Any questions? Matt Cunningham M.S.Cunningham@lboro.ac.uk Katie Burn katie.burn@york.ac.uk

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