In spring 2004, the DuFour Law Library participated in a web-based survey to determine user perceptions of service quality at the library. The survey, LibQual+, is sponsored by the Association of Research libraries in collaboration with Texas A&M University Libraries. In 2004, over 200 libraries world-wide participated, twenty-three of them academic law libraries.
The survey measured three areas:
- Affect of Service (the service patrons receive from library staff)
- Information Control (print and electronic resources and equipment)
- Library as Place (physical facility)
Using a scale of 1 - 9, survey respondents rated their minimum, desired and perceived expectations on questions that covered all three areas. This format helped us to determine which areas are most important to library users and also to identify areas where we need to improve .
The survey responses are divided by user type: law student, faculty, and law library staff. Following are some survey data, taken from the student results.
222 law students completed the survey, nearly 23% of the law student population. First, second, and third year classes were equally represented. Only 1% of fourth year students completed the survey. 177 day students completed the survey; 45 evening students completed the survey.
99 students chose to make comments at their completion of the survey: 77 were day students and 22 were evening students.
50% of the student respondents use the library on a daily basis, while another 36.4% use the library on a weekly basis. 9% report using the library's web page on a daily basis, but 38.2% use the library's web page on a weekly basis.
On a scale of 1-9, the library was rated most highly in the area of Affect of Service (7.3). Information Control was rated 7.08 and Library as Place was rated 7.03. All three areas were rated above the minimum expected level (6.5 - 6.7). However, we did not meet the desired level of service (7.8 - 8.1) in any area.
Comparison to other law libraries
Our survey was conducted as part of a consortium (The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities Law Libraries). Twenty-three law libraries participated, including Georgetown University Law Library. In comparison to the consortium, the library's scores were above the average in all three areas. The library also scored above average in terms of general satisfaction.
DuFour Law Library High and Low Scores for Each Area
- Affect of Service: Employees who are consistently courteous (7.81)
- Information Control: Print and/or electronic journal collections I require for my work (7.24)
- Library as Place: A safe and secure place (7.84, the highest score of the survey)
- Affect of Service: Giving users individual attention (6.85)
- Information Control: Access to photocopying and printing facilities (6.02)
- Library as Place: Community space for group learning and group study (6.87)
Comments and Suggestions Received
- Most students are pleased with the service they receive in the library.
- Many students commented that the library is too cold. Temperature was the number 1 complaint.
- Some students commented that the photocopiers, printers, and computers are frequently not working properly.
- Some students noted that the library is noisy. These students, and others, commented that policies are not adequately enforced.
- The highest student priority areas (i.e., those that received the highest scores for "desired level of service") are Library as Place (8.12 desired mean) and Information Control (8.11 desired mean). These two areas also received the lowest perceived scores. The comments received reveal that temperature and noise contributed to our lower score in Library as Place. Equipment problems contributed to our lower score in Information Control.
- The highest priority issue overall is maintaining a safe and secure place (desired level 8.48). The library received the highest score of the survey (7.84) on this question but did not meet the desired level.
- Modern equipment is another high priority issue (desired level 8.24). This was one of two questions on which the library did not meet the minimum level of service expected (photocopying and printing were another).
- The lowest score of the survey was 6.02 for "access to photocopying and printing facilities."
The library has taken a number of immediate actions in response to survey results and comments:
- The pcs in the large lab were replaced with Pentium IV machines.
- The pcs in the small lab and on Floor 4 were all refurbished.
- A second laptop printer (HP 4150) was added to Floor 2. A fourth HP 8150 printer was added to Floor 4.
- Additional Westlaw and Lexis printers were added (one of each).
- All photocopiers in the library were replaced with new machines.
- The temperature in the library has been centrally regulated, and the temperature on all three floors is monitored on a daily basis to ensure that it is between 71 and 73 degrees.
- The law library is working on a solution to the problem of buzzing carrel lights, which involves replacing the entire light fixture. One hundred new lights have been purchased and will be installed in the near future. These lights do not have ballasts, so there is no chance of a problem with buzzing.
- Stack directories/guides were added to the main reading rooms. Floor plans will be placed throughout the library in the near future.
- The library's web page has been completely redesigned, enabling users to better locate the library's online databases.
- Off-campus access to many online databases is available. To access databases off-campus, you need a valid law library barcode (located on the back of your CUA I.D.). For more information and a list of the library's online databases, please see our Online Databases page.
- The library is in the process of re-scanning past law school exams that are currently in tiff format. When this project is completed, all past exams will be available in pdf.
- Several students requested that the library's carrel policy be changed to allow students to reserve carrels. However, we also received several comments praising the policy. The carrel policy was created in the interest of fairness and for the protection of all students — the law school has 900 students and only 200 carrels. After considering the issue, we have decided the carrel policy will remain in place.
- Some students commented that the policy needs to be better enforced. The carrel policy is now enforced seven days a week.
- A few students commented that the laptop ban on the west end of Floor 3 is inconvenient. More students praised the policy, however, so it will remain in place.
- A few students commented that the library sometimes closes prior to 11:45 p.m. In order to ensure that all patrons have vacated the library by 11:45 p.m., library staff being clearing the library at 11:30 p.m. Please note that the law school garage closes at midnight. The law school guard goes off duty at midnight. For the safety of all students and staff, it is essential that all patrons vacate the library no later than 11:45 p.m.
Additional Comments and Library Response
- Space for group study is an important issue for students. However, space in the library is at a premium. In the past two years, the library's space has been reduced for the construction of much-needed faculty offices and to increase space in the Office of Computer Services. The library recently installed moveable compact shelving to accommodate the library's growing collection. At this point, the library does not have any additional space for group study rooms. The library will continue to investigate and consider solutions to this issue.
- A few students requested that the library issue e-mail reminders (courtesy notices) when books are close to their due date. Currently, overdue notices are issued via e-mail on the date that books are due. The library has a three-day grace period in which fines are not charged. If a student renews a book within this three-day grace period, he is not charged any late fees. Because of this policy, the library has decided not to issue courtesy notices. We will continue to monitor this policy and consider sending courtesy notices if it becomes necessary.
- The library received high scores in library service and many compliments on library staff. However, some students commented that they do not receive good service, especially at night, when there are fewer staff members available to assist students. The library will investigate this issue and work on improving service to students.
The library chose LibQual+ as our survey tool for several reasons:
- The ability to determine which issues are most important to students and faculty;
- The ability to determine if we are meeting the minimum and desired levels of service expected by our students and faculty; and
- The opportunity to compare results with other law libraries.
The library will continue to analyze the LibQual+ survey results and consider additional improvements to service. We appreciate the comments and insight provided by the survey respondents. Thank you all for taking the time to rate the library and help us to improve the quality of our services. Questions and comments may be directed to Frances Brillantine.