There were 2,689 comments from 1,637 respondents.
As is expected of such a survey, the majority of comments were negative. However, 25% of the comments were positive about library services in the collegiate university.
The vast majority of negative comments (46%) were about physical libraries, with half commenting on the poor Wi-Fi and 40% on uncomfortable study environment. Access to resources also received a high number (327) of negative comments – primarily relating to opening hours and borrowing policies – as did the contents of our collections (249). Other issues were COVID-19 response, communication, the Collegiate library system, resource discovery (SOLO), support services, and staff.
The positive comments were roughly equally split between staff (136), general love for the libraries (105), contents of our collections (86), physical libraries (82), the collegiate library system (72) and access to resources – notably Scan & Deliver (40).
465 of the comments negatively mentioned Wi-Fi. Most comments relate to the Radcliffe Camera and Old Library, but there were also numerous comments about the poor Wi-Fi in the Vere Harmsworth Library, Taylor Institution Library, Social Science Library, English Faculty Library and Law Library.
Our investigations identified three issues that combine to give this poor experience:
- The login to the Bodleian Wi-Fi was not working.
- The Wi-Fi signal cannot pass through the thick stone wall of historic buildings.
- There is not sufficient capacity on the routers, particularly when people are streaming online content.
Comfort of study spaces
There were 372 negative comments about the comfort of the physical study spaces in libraries, comprising:
- uncomfortable and un-ergonomic furniture
- lack of variety of furniture
- poor temperature control
- poor lighting
- inconvenient and unpleasant toilets
- lack of access to drinking water
- lack of space to take a break within the building where refreshments brought from home can be consumed
There were 147 negative comments about opening hours, roughly equally split between a desire for longer weekend hours, earlier mornings (before 9am), later evenings, and generally “longer hours”. 49% of these negative comments came from postgraduates and 39% came from undergraduates.
There were 117 negative comments expressing dissatisfaction with the prevalence of non-loan books, the short loan periods, the inconsistency of borrowing policies across Bodleian Libraries, and the lack of automatic renewals.
Contents of collections
Half of the negative comments about the contents of our collections referred to the lack of ebooks that could be used easily at home – whether due to no electronic copy being in our collection, or only an electronic legal deposit version.
Almost 60 comments mentioned lack of access to resources. Some of these resources we do have, but they are difficult to find or there are access issues. Some of the resources have been added to our wishlists. Most of these comments were too generic to enable them to be addressed.
A large number of negative comments related, inaccurately, to lack of specific provision. This is a communication issue. There is also a clear desire for physical library inductions.
There were 37 negative comments about moving opening of the libraries from 9am to 9.30am due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19. This was reversed when the University BCP level was reduced, but some of the comments were received after this point. There was a lack of awareness about why we had made this change to later opening – all those who commented thought it was a general change to opening hours; none of them related it to COVID measures.
There were 115 comments about COVID protocols, with a mixture of viewpoints, some strongly expressed.