Tuesday, 22 September 2015

2015 Library Client Survey: response from the University Librarian

In August 2015, we ran our bi-annual client survey, which provides a solid basis for us to improve our services.

We got an excellent response to our invitation to participate –3,862 students and staffs responded with 8,281 separate comments. One of the most pleasing aspects of your responses was the number of positive comments we received. The largest of which were about Library staff and their helpfulness and approachability.

The survey provides 28 statements about our service and asks for a score (1 – 7) on how you rate a) the importance of that aspect of our service and b) how you rate our performance in delivering that aspect of our service.

These ‘performance’ and ‘importance’ scores are compared. If something is important to you, but we aren’t performing as well as you might want us to, a ‘gap’ score is created.

Most important

You told us that the three most important aspects of our service are:
  • ‘I can get wireless access in the Library where I need to’
  • ‘Library staff provide accurate answers to my enquiries’
  • ‘Library staff treat me fairly and without discrimination’

Highest performance

The three highest performing aspects of our service are:
  • ‘Library staff treat me fairly and without discrimination’
  • ‘Library staff are approachable and helpful’
  • ‘Library staff provide accurate answers to my queries’

Lowest performing

Our lowest performing aspects of service are:
  • ‘A computer is available when I need one’
  • ‘I can find a place in the Library to create a group when I need to’
  • ‘I can find a quiet place in the Library to study when I need to’


The largest ‘gaps’ we had between what you feel is important and how we perform are:
  • ‘I can find a quiet place in the Library to study when I need to’
  • ‘A computer is available when I need one’
  • ‘I can find a place in the Library to work in a group when I need to’.

Our response to study spaces and computers

A number of the gaps, and low performing aspects, such as study space (for individuals or groups) and laptop facilities (such as wireless and power) are currently being addressed.

In the long term, the New Academic Street project for Swanston Library will double this Library site’s number of group and quiet study places, and we will increase the number of power points.

New Academic Street opens in 2017. While we have some service disruptions before then, we will end up with a great facility. Until then, we are increasing seating both within and beyond the Library on a temporary basis.

In spite of losing a sizable proportion of floor space,  some clever planning and hard work have resulted in more seating – during the construction phase – than we had before this work started.

We are in the process of analysing the need for extra study spaces at our Bundoora, Brunswick and Carlton Library sites.  135 additional power outlets (double GPOs, single GPOs and USB charging points) were added to Brunswick, Bundoora, Carlton, Bundoora East Library sites as part of Student Experience program of works.

Computer availability is a difficult problem to overcome, but we are working with the Information Technology Service area of RMIT to identify ways to assuage this demand. Many students have their own computer and the addition of more powerpoints and better wireless will assist more students who wish to ‘BYOD’ (Bring Your Own Device).

Our response to issues we will investigate further

Some of the other issues, which have been highlighted as needing attention include:

‘Items I’m looking for on Library shelves are usually there’

There is a range of different factors that influence responses to this statement. It is not clear whether students are looking for textbooks available for long-term loan (these are only available for short-term loan from the Reserve collection), whether we have a problem with items getting ‘lost’ on the shelves due to the complexity of the shelf numbering system, or if there is some other problem.

We will investigate this issue further.

‘LibrarySearch is easy to use’ and ‘The Library web site is easy to use’

Low ratings for these statements also require more investigation. We find users often don’t differentiate between external sources which we cannot control and those areas of the web which we can control.

We will be running some focus groups and conducting user testing to explore how we might approach these problems. Until then we encourage users to have a look at our online tutorials, ask for assistance at any of our libraries, or if you are online, click on our Ask a Librarian service for live “chat” assistance.  Early in 2016 we will also be offering classes in how to use these web based resources.


We’d like to thank everyone who responded to this year’s client survey. Your input is appreciated and will guide our plans for the future. We’ll keep you informed of progress via the Library website. Naturally, if you have any comments or suggestions you are welcome to contact me via the Library Suggestion Box.

Photograph of Dr Craig Anderson
Dr Craig Anderson, University Librarian