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Library Publications

A collection of the publications authored and compiled by the staff of the Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library.

2008 Student Survey: Library Response

As many of you know,the DuFour Law Library recently conducted a survey to determine how you, the law students, perceive library services and facilities. First, we want to thank you for your participation in the survey. We were very pleased with the response rate; a total of 271 students participated in the survey, over 30% of the total law school student population. In particular, we would like to extend a note of gratitude to the graduating students who responded. As a graduate you may not directly benefit from the results of the survey; however, by participating you are helping to make the Library and the Law School a better facility for future CUA law students. Second, we want you to know that the responses you provided are taken very seriously. In addition to compiling your responses to the questions we have also read each and every comment submitted. As soon as we assimilated the results of the survey a number of senior library staff met to discuss how we can respond, both in the short term and in the long term, to the issues that are of concern to you. This document outlines those issues and details our plan to address them.

Library Response

Overall we are very pleased to report that most of you rated library services (Circulation and Reference) as either excellent or very good. In addition, you provided very encouraging feedback on the library's print and online resources, both of which elicited mostly excellent or very good responses. From your responses and comments we know that there is a bit of confusion regarding some library resources (see "Library Resources" below) and that a number of students are unaware of our online databases and would appreciate further instruction on the various resources available; this is something we hope to address on an on-going basis. Turning to the library as a facility, all aspects of the facility received a higher percentage of positive ratings than negative. However, we are aware that temperature continues to be a problem, as well as the availability of laptop printers. All of these points, together with a number of other issues and our responses to them, are discussed in greater detail below. We appreciate all who took the time to submit comments as well as answer the survey questions. Comments are very helpful to us as we analyze survey results. We have selected six comments that we feel are representative of the hundreds received and have provided responses to those comments below.

By providing us with your feedback it is now incumbent upon those of us in the Library to respond, and in so doing together we will improve the Library services, the collection, and the facility for all of our patrons. The majority of these improvements we hope to carry out in the very near future, and of course there are additional improvements that will require long-range planning. Thank you again for your participation in the survey!

Research Instruction

  • The Library is currently talking with the Law School administration and the LSP faculty about the possibility of contributing formally in some way to the research component of the LSP classes.
  • The development of new online guides on often-requested research topics will be explored over the next few months.
  • The Reference Department intends to implement a scheduled research consultation service for students at the beginning of the next academic year. This service would offer students the opportunity to schedule a one-on-one meeting with a reference librarian to discuss their research projects.

New Technologies

  • The Library intends to start testing a new online reference assistance service (often called “Ask The Librarian” on library websites) over the summer. If implemented, this service will allow students to IM their questions to the on-duty reference librarian.
  • In consultation with the Law School administration, the Library will explore converting the honors education VHS videotapes to digitized video files. If implemented, these files would possibly reside on a TWEN site.
  • More support will be provided to students who use Apple/Mac computers.

Library Resources

  • JSTOR: several students requested that we acquire JSTOR. JSTOR is available through Aladin, the online catalog of CUA's Mullen Library. Mullen has a wealth of online databases as well as electronic journals. To access these resources from the law library's home page, click Aladin under the Research Databases heading.
    • Off-campus access to JSTOR and to all of Mullen's databases and e-journals is available via your Mullen patron barcode, which is on the front of your I.D. You have to go to Mullen to activate your barcode before using it for the first time. Off-campus access to the law library's online databases is available via your law library barcode, which is on the back of your I.D.
  • Mullen and other CUA Libraries: the law library is not a part of Mullen Library, which is why you need to search two catalogs (Columbo for the law library and Aladin for CUA and WRLC consortium libraries) for online and print resources. Survey comments indicate that students are confused by this, so we will investigate ways to alleviate confusion by modifying some of our web pages.
  • Online Journal Finder: all of the journals in JSTOR are searchable through the law library's Online Journal Finder. Just enter the title of the journal in which you are interested and the Online Journal Finder will tell you where it is available online. The Online Journal Finder searches Lexis/Nexis, Westlaw, HeinOnline, JSTOR and other databases.
  • Off-campus access to most of the law library's subscription databases is available via your law library barcode. Sign on to MyColumbo (your library account) and you can access law library subscription databases without the need to enter your barcode each time.
  • Speaking of MyColumbo, you can use this service to renew books, access law school exams with one sign-on, save your favorite online catalog searches and more. See the MyColumbo page for more information.
  • The U.S. Code, 2006 edition: several students requested that we acquire the 2006 edition of the U.S. Code. The Government Printing Office, which produces the official code, is at least two years behind (and always has been). We believe that the 2006 code will be available in late 2008. We will acquire it as soon as it is available. It the meantime, we'll post a sign at the 2000 U.S. Code explaining this.
  •     State statutes: the law library does have a current subscription for all state statutes. We did have a problem recently receiving updates for some states. Those problems have been corrected and all state statutes are now current and up to date. If you see a problem, please tell a staff member or leave a suggestion in the library's electronic suggestion box.
  • Journals: the law library has a collection of over 900 print journals, in addition to the journals available via HeinOnline. Please note that current issues are kept on reserve.
  • Textbooks: as of Fall 2007, the law library does have copies of all First Year required and recommended textbooks. Textbooks are located on reserve. Textbooks for upper level courses are purchased at the request of faculty. Please note that library copies of textbooks are not intended to be used as a substitute for purchasing the book yourself.
  • Awareness of library resources: the library has a large variety of resources that it hopes the students will fully utilize. Always striving to improve our service, the library is investigating ways to better publicize these resources. For more on this subject, please see comments below.

Equipment

  • An additional laptop printer will be added to Floor 2 in the near future.
  • Selected photocopiers will be made available for printing (still at no charge). The photocopiers offer double-sided printing as well.
  • Double-sided printing will be made available on at least 1 of the laptop printers in the near future.

Library Service

  • The library is looking at current staffing and formulating policies to provide a consistent level of reference service to students for day, evening, and weekend hours.

Facility

  • Temperature: the library, along with the law school administration, is exploring the possibility of hiring a consultant to evaluate the library's heating and cooling system. Library staff will continue to monitor the temperature on a daily basis and report temperature problems to Facilities Maintenance immediately.
  • Chairs: the library will investigate offering lumbar support on some of the library chairs. We will also consider alternative styles of chairs. Regarding the selection of the current chairs, please see comment below.
  • Lounge seating: over the summer, the library will provide additional lounge seating in the hallway on Floor 2.
  • Study Rooms: the library will investigate ways to better use existing space to provide additional study rooms.
  • Noise continues to be an issue for students. The library has attempted to achieve a balance between quiet areas and those areas where talking is permitted. In general, talking in low voices is permitted on the east end of the library on all 3 floors (the area that begins at the restrooms and ends at the elevator). Cell phones may be used only on the east end of Floor 2. We ask that students be respectful of one another and not talk in the quiet end of the library. Staff have also been reminded of the need for quiet. For more on this subject, please see comments below.

Security

Security remains an important concern for the library. Please remember that Catholic University is an urban campus and that the law library, in keeping with University policy, is open to the public.

  • Theft: survey comments indicate that some students are under the impression that the law library experiences a large amount of theft. Fortunately, this is not true. In the past two years, the law library has experienced fewer than five thefts. Of course, we would like that number to be zero. You can help us reduce theft by doing the following:
    • Never leave your valuables unattended.
    • Take your wallet with you, even just to use the restroom.
    • Always lock your laptop to the table or carrel. Locks may be checked out at the circulation desk (locks for Macs will be made available in the next few weeks).

The Law School Campus Police Officer and library staff will continue to make regular sweeps through the library to ensure that valuables are not left unattended. The library staff will continue to post notices of thefts so that students are aware if a theft has taken place. Please help us to keep the library secure by reporting all thefts and suspicious behavior to library staff.

  • Library Security Officer: some students question the need for a library security officer. The fact that you think we don't need an officer is a good sign! Since implementing this position in 2003, the library has seen a significant reduction in the number of thefts and security incidents. Please remember that the library officer is here both to deter and to respond to incidents.
  • I.D. Requirement: some survey respondents complained that it is cumbersome to display their IDs twice (once to open the doors and then to the security officer). The library doors must be closed at all times in order to improve access control. Showing an I.D. is necessary in case more than one person enters the library at a time.
Selected Comments and Library Responses
  • Law Student [in response to possible new services]:

In the deluge of stuff we have to read and listen to every day already, I don't think I'd find time to go listen to another lecture no matter how helpful it was. Good idea, but I'd probably just go ask a reference librarian and get the live performance. Blog could be useful if it provided very discrete, digestible "power user" tips for library use, like "You have this research problem, you want to solve it. Try this."

Library Response:
Your comment gets to the very heart of an issue that we find perplexing: how to provide you and your fellow law students with more exposure to the resources and strategies we employ in legal research without taking up more of your valuable time. A few ways we hope to address this in the near future include; offering scheduled research consultation sessions with reference librarians, integrating the reference staff into the existing curriculum by offering research presentations within classes, and setting up an online reference service. However, the old fashioned reference desk is not going away and will still offer the “live performance.”

  • Law Student [in response to what they would do if they were in charge]:

Encourage better student/library staff relations to show them that librarians are, in fact, nice people and are there to help. A lot of students are naturally turned off from the library/librarians in general and therefore fail to become aware of, and take advantage of, the resources that the library offers. I would make Steve Young the library ambassador. He rocks.

Library Response:
We understand that many students are indeed turned off by the library and librarians. In fact, many librarians are turned off by libraries and librarians. Asking a librarian for help may bring back painful memories of high school writing projects, however if you can get past these memories, and the stereotype of the librarian, you’ll see that we do offer useful services that really can help you get through law school. By the way, Mr. Young appreciates the recommendation and will endeavor to continue to “rock.”

  • Law Student [in response to the comfort of library chairs]:

The chairs are VERY UNCOMFORTABLE and provide no back support. The cushion you sit on is too far apart from the back rest, so that if you want your back to touch the back of the chair you need to sit on the wooden frame, which is of course also not comfortable. I have started bringing a pillow because last semester I experienced chronic back pain. It seems like whoever purchased the chairs did not sit in them before buying them, because they are very uncomfortable. For people who use the library a lot (like me) this is a big issue....

Library Response:

Before purchasing the current chairs the library tested several perspective models for a period of six months. Then at the end of that period, after feedback from staff and law students, a final model was chosen and purchased for library use. In order to improve the comfort of the patrons the library is looking into purchasing lumbar support for the current chairs and investigating the possibility of acquiring new chairs.

  • Law Student [in response to what they would do if they were in charge]:

...I would not allow renovations or reorganization during exams. The library is very crowded during exams, and all available space should be reserved for students, not roped off for books being reorganized....

Library Response:

Despite the appearance, there was no stacks reorganization going on in the 4th floor of the library during exams. Melting snow on the roof caused a sudden, severe leak on the fourth floor, right at the beginning of the exam period. As the water poured in, library staff raced to move the books in order to save them from water damage. The area was roped off until the leak abated and the area dried. Once the leak was fixed, the library staff thought it best not to engage in re-shelving the books until the exam period ended, since that would have further disturbed students studying for exams.

  • Law Student [in response to what they would do if they were in charge]:

I would have a "get to know your library day". The library would have an open house that allowed students to meet all the library staff in and about the stacks. Staff could be placed on the different major sections of the library and encourage browsing and talking, and provide brief, informal presentations of the location they would stationed in or just chat one-on-one. None of the LSP classes provide first year students this kind of opportunity. Everything is so quiet in the library, sometimes I am afraid to just go in and look around. Or when I ask were something is, I am handed a three page map...it is overwhelming.

Library Response:

This is an excellent idea, thank you for suggesting it! One common theme in many of the comments we received is that students are unaware of the services and the resources that the library has to offer. This is a problem that we will attempt to address in a variety of ways, including an open house, over the next year.

  • Law Student [in response to what they would do if they were in charge]:

Making sure students felt at home. This means no thefts, no worries about moving in for the day and being able to spread out, but it also means no swiping in, no guards, no having to go all the way outside to grab a bite or take a phone call. I didn't say it was easy, but it would be great. Also, about that guard. Maybe s/he's a response to problems from earlier (and, perhaps, has admirably solved those problems) but s/he sure doesn't seem to be doing a whole bunch these days. Not only are we paying for this position, but the illusion of security we're buying doesn't really seem all the convincing. If we really *must* have someone there, give the position to a student. They're liable to be both the best detector of fishiness and they have a personal stake in the character of their library. A student might not card uniformly? Hah. How would that be different?

Library Response:

Wow, you've just described what to some would be Library Utopia and to others would be library anarchy! Although we got quite a few comments requesting that we officially allow eating, talking, and cell phone use throughout the library, we got more comments asking that we better-enforce the "no eating, no talking, no cell phone use" policies. Clearly, there is no easy solution here. We've tried to achieve a balance by designating areas where talking and cell phone use is permitted. Food is another issue entirely because the protection of library materials must remain a top priority. Food crumbs attract all manner of vermin which destroy books. Greasy fingerprints ruin paper and, in extreme situations, can contribute to the growth of mold, which is very costly to remove.

Regarding the library security officer/door guard: please note that the library security officer is in place to deter crime as much as to respond to it. Since moving into this building in 1994, we have tried a number of different plans to control access and reduce theft and other security incidents. First we tried using students to check I.D.s, which failed for a number of reasons. Coverage was one, effectiveness was another. Students and public patrons alike refused to show their I.D.s to student workers. Another plan was to use a temp company (we tried two different ones). We encountered the same problems, although enforcement was a bit improved. As theft and other incidents continued to be a problem, the library and the law school administration felt that a more effective plan was needed. Using a contract security company (City Security) has proven to be the solution to our security issues. Theft and security incidents have been significantly reduced since this company began service in 2003. A benefit to using this company is that we can, and do, demand a replacement if we feel that an officer is not following proper procedure. If you ever feel an officer is not doing his/her duty, please tell a library staff member immediately.

Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library / 3600 John McCormack Road N.E., Washington, DC 20064 / 202-319-5155