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Library seeks feedback

Michael Saar, Gray Library interim dean, peruses the shelves, Feb. 16. UP photo by Reina Morgan.
Michael Saar, Gray Library interim dean, peruses the shelves, Feb. 16. UP photo by Reina Morgan.

Lamar University’s Gray Library is conducting a webbased survey for students, faculty and staff to help offer the best services to the Cardinal community. The LibQual+ is a nationally run survey and many libraries participate in the program, Michael Saar, interim dean of the Mary and John Gray Library, said.

“It allows us to gauge our users’ perception of how the library is working for them.”

The survey began Feb. 20 and will be available until March 31.

“We’ve done it a couple times in the past, but we started in earnest in 2019 on a bi-annual cycle, so this is our third in that cycle,” Saar said. “It’s going to allow us to create a long-term picture of how we’re doing. It looks at questions such as our services that we provide to patrons, our resources — even the building itself.”

Each survey participant who provides a valid email will be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win a PlayStation 5, 20 Vouchers for 1 Free Grande Starbucks beverage, or select merchandise from the B&N Campus Bookstore. All participants will be anonymous.

The survey allows respondents to rate the library for each category, to rate three areas on a one-to-nine scale, Saar said. Respondents will also be able to suggest improvements. If the area is ranked as a seven, maybe the respondents suggestions raise the level to a nine.

“And then finally, most importantly for us, where you feel we are in that so maybe your bare minimum for one thing is a three and your best idea would be like an eight.

“Hopefully, you see our library at a seven, eight, or even a nine, but if you see it a four, three or two, that lets us know, OK, we’ve got a problem that we need to look into,” Saar said.

In the past, library patrons have indicated they are happy with the service overall, Saar said.

“They find it to be a welcoming place,” he said.

Some concerns that have been raised in the past concern the age of the building, Saar said, with people raising concerns about the environment, the physical building itself.

“In particular, in our last iteration of survey, there was a lot of comments about the study rooms, the amount of them, the quality of them. So, we identified that as an area that could use some improvement.

“So, we got two pilot study rooms that are now open to the public on the sixth and fourth floors.

Saar said the library also ran focus groups on building last year, having been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re sharing that information with the designers of the upcoming library renovation project,” he said. “Hopefully, that input is going be put into action for students.

The LibQual+ survey also has some pre-generated questions because it’s a national survey, Saar said.

“They do that for consistency’s sake, and we’re allowed to have five questions in there,” he said. “One of the questions we add is, ‘How are you feeling about hours of service, for example? Another question is, ‘Are you aware of our archives and special collections, those we’ve had for a long time?

“One change we made this year is we remove the question on our library instruction service, because we have other ways of assessing that, and replace that one with one on our interlibrary loan service which is basically items we don’t have in the library. Can we get that for you? Because we just wanted to get set. We’ve heard anecdotally that people are really happy with it, but we wanted to get a better sense of that.

As Gray Library heads into its renovation project, Saar said the feedback is helpful. The survey also has an open-ended box at the end where respondents can say anything they want to add about the library itself, resources, people, building, anything.

“We get a lot of great feedback in that, and we definitely encouraged people taking the survey to include their thoughts in there because that might have stuff that maybe isn’t in the survey and helps us identify areas to explore further actions, we can take to improve services for our students,” he said.

The survey should only take about five minutes, Saar said, and he is excited about the incentives being offered.

Another area the survey looks at is where do are people getting their information? Saar said.

“Is it physical library? Is it the library website? Is it Google? Is it a combination of those?” he said. “I know for myself, it’s a combination, and for a lot of people it might be as well. But I think, in general, as more and more information becomes available online in a variety of areas, having the library is even more critical because, for one hand, we’re the experts in navigating those different information spheres. And we can provide tips and instruction to help you navigate those. We can provide resources that aren’t available.

“You might have heard the adage, ‘You get what you pay for,’ and some of the stuff that’s available for free online might not always be the best quality. We provide access to in-depth research studies, millions and millions of these that you wouldn’t be able to find typically on the open web. But we can also help determine how we suss out the good from the bad searching in general. So, I think our role is more important than ever because we are all of us constantly bombarded and overwhelmed with information all around us.”

Saar said he hopes everyone takes a few minutes to give their feedback. Everyone in the library is invested in student’s success and helping the students to succeed, he said.

“This is one way to help us know how we’re doing or what we might be able to do better to improve that for students and our faculty and staff,” he said.

The survey can be accessed at the survey at

Category: News