Library Survey Results

Remember the library survey we asked you to fill out in Fall 2005? Nearly 1,500 faculty and students filled out a survey form. If you would like see what they had to say, go the Library’s Survey page and click on the left menu bar to see these Word documents: 

  1. Improvements Made in Response to the Survey
  2. Tech Support Frequently Asked Questions
  3. Faculty Survey Form and Survey Results
  4. Student Survey Form and Survey Results
One of the things we were interested in learning was which resources faculty and students use the most to support their teaching and learning.

The top five resources used by faculty were:

  1. Their own books and articles or other resources from their files (88.9%)
  2. Websites found through search engines (87.7%)
  3. Web sites recommended by friends or colleagues (65.4%)
  4. Library databases (53.1%)
  5. Other university libraries (45.7%)
The top five resources used by students were:

  1. Web sites found through search engines (89.1%)
  2. Web sites recommended by friends (58.1%)
  3. Library databases (57.57%)
  4. Oscar, the library’s catalog (51.8%)
  5. Their own books & articles (36.5%)
These results are interesting in several ways. It appears that faculty and students use similar resources and in similar proportions. Students seems to use library resources a bit more than faculty, while faculty make greater use of materials from their own files, which are presumably larger than those of students. But students also use their own materials: it was their 5th choice.

Another interesting aspect of the survey which really hasn’t been much commented on is the confusion of terminology. For example, faculty’s 5th most used resource was other university libraries. What do faculty do when they visit those other libraries? Do they check out books, photocopy articles from journals, consult specialists? And which libraries are they gaining access to?
Librarians tend to be sticklers when it comes to terminology. We know for instance the difference between a web site, a database, and electronic journal. Students however often conflate all of those and prefer instead to assign the word “web site” to anything online. They often, for instance, refer to databases as web sites or search engines, much to our chagrin. It is possible that our results, which fail to take account of those differences in mental models, are somewhat skewed as a result. Check back for other survey results, which will be abstracted here periodically.

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