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    JMU Libraries Survey Users
    by Gerald Gill, Head of Reference

    JMU Library users last spring expressed generally high satisfaction with library services and with the library as a place for study and research, according to data released this summer.

    In the spring of 2004, JMU Libraries participated in the national LibQUAL survey of library service quality.  Almost 600 randomly selected participants, faculty and students, answered a detailed set of questions indicating how the libraries met their expectations.  LibQUAL was developed and is administered by the Association of Research Libraries. Over 200 other institutions participated, including 121 colleges and universities. This is the second time in two years that JMU Libraries has conducted the survey. The survey instrument included 27 questions covering information, service, and the library as place. The survey also included space to write comments, which 227 respondents did.

    Information: This includes areas such as ease of accessing information and adequacy of collections to meet needs. Expectations were the highest in this category both at JMU and nationwide. Respondents were generally satisfied with our web site, equipment, and easily accessible information, but were less satisfied with print collections and print/electronic journal collections, even though the number of electronic journals have more than doubled since the last survey in 2002. This may be partly due to the higher in expectations in this area over the 2002 survey.

    Service: Library service received the most positive scores and was backed up by the many reinforcing comments from our users. Although the scores were somewhat lower than expected in comparison to 2002, this could, again, be attributed in part to rising expectations of our users. This is a good thing. It keeps us on our toes! The comments indicated user satisfaction, with many compliments going to our staff for the help they provide. Interlibrary loan garnered some of the highest praise in the survey with many users raving about the timely and accurate service. The highest acclaim was reserved for the library instruction program, which has received national attention as well.

    Library as Place: This of course refers to how the environment of the library meets study and research needs. Overall the scores in this area were positive with users generally satisfied with the space at about the same level as 2002. Interestingly enough, the comments about the library as place revealed a different attitude. Users noted that noise, temperature, equipment, and arrangement need to be improved. These will be important factors to consider as we begin planning for an additional library facility on east campus in the coming years.

    The comments section covered collections, facilities, staff, copiers, hours, the web, and miscellaneous concerns.  Many comments expanded on answers given in the survey. Other remarks covered new ground. Each category elicited both positive and negative responses, proving that you can't please everyone. In many ways the comments were the most useful part of the survey because they allowed us to pinpoint where improvements could be made. In some cases these improvements were set into motion before the survey closed! Training and customer service are two areas we are focusing on in the coming year. The 2002 survey provided us with the evidence to help obtain increased funding for access to more online resources.  We expect to further improve services based on the results of this year's survey.

    The LibQUAL survey does make a difference in library services and resources. In 2006 we will conduct another LibQUAL survey as part of  an ongoing effort of continuous improvement. Our users' opinions are very important to providing excellent collections and services as we move forward into the future.

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    Copyright 2002. JMU Libraries.
    All rights reserved.