Assessing Library Services, Resources, and Space

In March 2009 the UC Merced Library launched a survey, facilitated by Institutional Planning & Analysis, to undergrad and graduate students scheduled to graduate between May and December 2009. The intent of the survey was to determine how and to what extent students used the library and their level of satisfaction with the library (space, resources, and services). Those students who completed the survey (59 total) were asked if they would be willing to be contacted to participate in a follow-up focus group. From these volunteers and some additional recruits, we conducted four focus groups in April 2009 using a moderator from the campus's Center for Teaching and Research Excellence (CRTE). Two of the focus groups consisted of graduating students who already worked at the library (7 and 9 participants) and the two remaining focus groups consisted of graduating students who did not work at the library (6 and 8 participants). From the survey and focus group findings, we made a number of findings and have responded with action items. See below for a summary and a link to the full report.

Findings & Actions:

1. We are providing a quality collection that students are using for their academic work. Students favorably referred to the availability and usefulness of the databases, journals, and articles.


  • To the extent allowed by the availability of funds, the library will continue to participate in CDL consortial licenses for electronic resources. The library will also continue to the best of its ability to purchase print books through its approval plan and to respond to faculty requests for books, online journals and DVDs. (Ongoing)

2. Though we are providing an excellent collection, some students commented on the difficulty of finding information.


  • We have tagged recommended databases with a star icon in an effort to explicitly highlight some of the databases that may be of most interest to our library users and have included links to subsets of some databases. (Completed)
  • In our database listing, we have included links to subsets of databases based on assignment requirements. These subset options limit a search to a specific number of resources within a database and can direct students to a group of acceptable resources for a specific course or assignment. (Completed)

3. We are providing a versatile and welcoming physical space that meets multiple needs. Students like the physical space and its ability to meet various needs.


  • We will continue to provide a space that serves multiple purposes. We are aware that both study and social places are needed for students on campus. (In Progress)

4. Though there were many positive comments about the space and library atmosphere, students expressed that there was not enough available quiet study space.


  • The library is designating areas of the 4th floor for quiet or silent study. This will be regularly monitored by student assistants in the evenings. (In Progress)
  • Library staff has consulted with Student Affairs staff to more effectively manage tours of the library building to prevent noisy interruptions and to preserve the quiet study zone of the 4th floor. Implementation will be monitored. (Ongoing)

5. Students noted that they liked the collaborative study rooms but that it was almost impossible to ever find one available.


  • The library is collaborating with the campus Information Technology department to implement an online room reservation system which would allow students to independently reserve a collaborative study room in advance. (In Progress)

6. We are providing valuable services. Students appreciate several services available in the library particularly the loaner laptops program, Interlibrary loan, and printing capability.


  • Laptops are available for checkout 2009/2010. We will continue to evaluate the needs of students and priorities for library services to determine the long-range plans for the laptop loaner program. (Ongoing)
  • The library will continue to provide the ILL service and more staffing hours will be allotted to ILL starting in August 2009. (Ongoing & In Progress)
  • Though many users noted that they used the ILL service heavily, others were unaware that they could request resources. As a result, library staff will continue to make users aware of this service through instruction opportunities, orientation presentations, and communication tools e.g. digital signage. (Ongoing & In Progress)

7. Students noted that they like the ability to print in the library but that the service is notoriously unreliable.


  • Library staff has met with key players on campus to take steps to resolve printing unreliability. The two black and white printers will be replaced. All printers (2 black & white and 1 color) will be moved to room 369. If one printer is malfunctioning, a student can retrieve the print job from another printer in the same room rather than moving to another floor. (In Progress)
  • Student assistants will be provided with more explicit training in how to best respond to printing questions and how to perform basic troubleshooting. (In Progress)

8. We are providing friendly, courteous assistance to our users though there is room to provide more knowledgeable assistance.


  • We are revising portions of our student assistant training this summer (09) to support their knowledge and skills to provide excellent customer service. (In Progress)
  • The librarians will continue to be very involved in summer orientations. This is an opportunity to introduce incoming students to library staff and services. (Ongoing)
  • Librarians are making the process of transferring research related questions to librarians easier and more explicit for our student assistants through training and technology (e.g. walkie talkies). (In Progress)
  • In fall 2009, the librarians are training some student library assistants to offer roving reference assistance to Library users in an effort to increase both the level and visibility of research help available to the library users. (In Progress)
  • To raise awareness of the librarians and the services they offer, we are going to profile our staff on the digital signage and on the website more prominently for fall 09. (In Progress)

9. Students expressed a desire for more print books in the collection.


  • Increase communication of new titles that are available to the UC Merced community. (In Progress)
  • We are committed to providing Interlibrary Loan services to share resources so that users can request and receive items that may not be available at UC Merced or not held in a user's preferred format (e.g. print). (Ongoing)

For additional details, view the full report.

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