Student Use of the Library: Fall 2013 Survey

Each semester, I conduct survey to learn about how my students are using the library. The highlights from the fall 2012 and spring 2013 surveys were posted on my blog.

The major findings from my survey included:

  • 89% of students who used the library said that they would be “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to use the library again (83% in fall 2012 and 86% in spring 2013).
  • 68% of students who used the library during the current semester visited the library on at least a monthly basis (83% in fall 2012 and 86% in spring 2013).
  • Their primary uses of the library were to conduct research (47% vs. 42% in fall 2012 and 39% in spring 2013) and to use the library for study space (32% vs. 37% in fall 2012 and 25% in spring 2013)
  • 79% of those who used the library felt that it was “important” to their academic success (50% in fall 2012 and 71% in spring 2013). Those who used the library more frequently placed greater emphasis on the library’s role in their academic success. 50% of student who used the library no more than once or twice a month said that the library was important to their academic success while 100% of those who used the library weekly or more frequently stated that it was important to their academic success.
  • In terms of overall importance, students ranked a variety of uses, resources, or services as follows from most to least important: 1. Study Space (2nd in fall 2012 and 2nd in spring 2013); 2. Research Resource (1st in fall 2012 and 3rd in spring 2013); 3. Wi-Fi/Internet (4th in fall 2012 and 1st in spring 2013) and Assignment Resource (5th in fall 2012 and 5th in spring 2013); 4. Textbook on Reserve (7th in fall 2012 and 8th in spring 2013; 5. Reference Librarian (7th in fall 2012 and 7th in spring 2013); 6. Print Resources (7th in fall 2012 and 3rd in spring 2013; and, 7. Electronic Resources (5th in fall 2012 and 6th in spring 2013).

I also summed up the value each student placed on each of the library resources (ranging from -2 for very unimportant to +2 for very important) and divided the total by the number of students multiplied by the number of resources to obtain a Library Resources Value Score:

The Library Resources Value Score for fall 2013 was 1.283 (somewhat important). The fall 2012 value was 1.107 and the spring 2013 figure was 1.047.

The importance of students placed on the library’s resources varied with how frequently students used the library.

As had been the case last semester, I assigned a research paper worth 20% of the course grade. Much of the required information can be found using electronic resources provided by Lehman College’s Library, including the Business Insights, Business Source Complete, and LexisNexis Academic databases.

Past survey results indicated that student usage of the databases was low. In addition, a significant share of students used none of the above databases. As a result, I required my fall 2013 class to attend an information literacy session at the library. Attendance at the session counted for 5% of the course grade. At the same time, any student who did not attend the session could not receive an “A” for the course.

24 of my 29 students (83%) attended the session that was held on the evening of October 22. The session was tailored around the requirements of the research paper that had been assigned. Students were led through a variety of research resources for American Express ranging from SEC filings to SWOTs. Students were taught how to read SEC filings. In addition, the Library prepared a customized research guide for my course, which I posted on BlackBoard.

The survey results indicated a jump in student use of the relevant databases. In addition, there was a sharp drop in the number of students reporting that they had used none of the relevant databases.

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