Reader Survey 2016: results

The Bodleian Libraries Reader Survey 2016 ran from 8 to 29 February, using a standardized survey tool (LibQUAL+) that is used by over 1,200 academic libraries worldwide and therefore enables us to benchmark our results against other comparative institutions. The survey asked questions in six standard areas (collections; Libraries staff; physical library spaces; overall satisfaction; information literacy; and usage) as well as demographic questions. In addition, we asked seven questions specific to our survey.

The information literacy and overall satisfaction questions, in common with more traditional surveys, asked for a simple satisfaction score on a scale of 1 to 9. The other questions asked respondents to indicate on a scale of 1 to 9 the lowest level they would find acceptable; the level they ideally want; and the level they feel is currently provided by the Libraries. This enables us, not only to determine the relative importance of different aspects of the Libraries’ provision and service, but also to discover the expectations of our readers in these areas.

Response rate

We received 3,498 responses, of which 3,246 had sufficient answers to enable statistical analysis. All 1,174 free-text comments were analysed. The response level from current members of the University was 13% higher than when the survey was run in 2012. Eleven percent of undergraduates (1,291) and 12% of postgraduates (1,310) completed the survey. Equal numbers of Masters and DPhil students responded. Eighty-nine responses were from Library Card holders (i.e. not current members of the University) – significantly lower than the 819 responses received in 2012 from this group.

In all surveys that are open to the whole target population (i.e. Bodleian Libraries’ readers), some groups will be over-represented in the responses; some under-represented. In the responses to this survey History and Biological Sciences make up a much larger proportion of the responses than they do members of the University; Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences a much smaller proportion of responses than members of the University. The proportion of responses from Medicine, Education and Social, Economic & Political Sciences is representative of the University population. We will take this into account when we are determining the action to take in response to the survey results.

Results – Overall satisfaction levels

Our scores in the three satisfaction questions have improved from the 2012 survey, as can be seen in the table below.

2016

2012

In general, I am satisfied with the way in which I am treated by the libraries

7.69

7.64

In general, I am satisfied with the libraries' support for my learning, research, and/or teaching needs

7.36

7.32

How would you rate the overall quality of the service provided by the libraries?

7.57

7.47

This continues the upward trend, illustrated in the below graph.

 Chart of overall quality

Undergraduates are more satisfied than postgraduates or academic staff, across all three questions. Postgraduates are least satisfied with the support for their learning, research and/or teaching needs. Academic staff are least satisfied with the way they are treated by the libraries, and with the overall quality of the libraries.

External readers are more satisfied then undergraduates/postgraduates/academic staff in their treatment by the Libraries and overall quality of the Libraries. They are more satisfied than postgraduates or academic staff in the support for their learning, research and/or teaching.

Staff (excl. libraries staff) are the most satisfied across the board.

Results – Collections

There were eight questions about collections and access to them, of which each respondent was asked three. Everyone was asked 'The electronic resources (e.g. e-journals, e-books, databases) I need' and the other two questions were randomly selected from the pool.

Our current performance score has increased since the 2012 survey. However, the ideal performance level for undergraduates and postgraduates has increased by a larger amount, so we are further away from meeting this than we were. Academic staff give us a higher rating of our current performance than postgraduates or undergraduates. Postgraduates have the highest ideal level of performance.

For academics the increase in our current performance is significant, as we moved from below the lowest acceptable level in 2012 to above it in this survey. We are still not performing as well as we wish to, but we are no longer failing.

We will be undertaking more detailed analysis by subject studied and College attended. We will also be identifying where specific resources have been mentioned in the free text comments.

Results – Libraries staff

There were nine questions about Libraries staff, of which each respondent was asked three. Everyone was asked 'Staff who deal with readers in a caring manner' and the other two questions were randomly selected from the pool.

Our current performance level has improved since the 2012 survey. However, the ideal performance level has from undergraduates and postgraduates increased by a larger amount, so we are further away from meeting this than we were. Academic staff give us a higher rating of our current performance than postgraduates or undergraduates and also have the highest ideal level of performance. We are closer to meeting the ideal level of performance for academic staff than we were in 2012.

We will be undertaking more detailed analysis by most frequently used library and subject studied.

Results – Physical Library use

The library used most often by respondents was their College library (16.9%), followed by Radcliffe Science Library (11.4%); Bodleian Library: Old Bodleian and Gladstone Link (9.7%); Bodleian Library: Radcliffe Camera (9.2%); and Social Science Library (7.9%). Over 200 respondents (6.4%) stated that they do not use a physical library.

There were five questions about physical library spaces, of which each respondent was asked two. Everyone was asked 'Library space that inspires study and learning' and the other question was randomly selected from the pool. Respondents were asked to answer in respect of the Library they used most often. Those who do not use a physical library could answer ‘Not applicable’.

All three groups (undergraduates, postgraduates, and academic staff) were consistent in their assessment about how well we meet their needs for physical library spaces with an overall score of 6.83 out of 9. However, there are differences in the lowest level each group would find acceptable (5.75 for undergraduates to 6.13 for academic staff) and the ideal level (7.91 for academic staff to 8.31 for postgraduates).

We will be undertaking more detailed analysis to see if there are differences depending on the library used most often, College attended, or subject studied.

Results – Reader expectations and priorities

Collections are most important for undergraduates, postgraduates and academic staff. For undergraduates and postgraduates this is followed by physical library spaces, with libraries staff third. For academics, libraries staff is more important than physical library spaces.

There is a consistent perception of our current performance level across all three groups in the areas of collection provision & access and physical library spaces. The ideal level of performance is also consistent across the three groups for Libraries staff and collection provision & access.

Graph of reader survey expectations vs performance 

Undergraduates have a much greater ‘zone of tolerance’ – the difference between the ideal and lowest acceptable levels of provision (the grey bars in the above graph) – across all three aspects; academic staff have a zone of tolerance two thirds the size.

For all three groups, Libraries staff is the best performing aspect of our provision and services, and physical library spaces are the most disappointing.

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