The Stillwater Report

Note: Paper copies of this report are available from Jim Vaughan, Assistant Director for Access & Facilities, j-vaughan@uchicago.edu, 773-702-8351


University of Chicago Library User Survey and Space Utilization Study

Executive Summary


Background


The Stillwater Consulting Group was retained by the University of Chicago Library in February 1995 to collect and analyze data on the utilization of library services and space. The primary objective of the study was to document user preferences and patterns of space utilization in the Joseph Regenstein Library. The study was conducted with the aid of a survey questionnaire of library users and an observational study of space utilization in Regenstein and other campus libraries.

The survey questionnaire was designed to measure the library use patterns, service priorities, and space needs of students and faculty. The questionnaire was distributed by mail to all of the University's full-time faculty, and to a sample of graduate students and undergraduate students. Distributed in May 1995, the survey yielded a total response rate of 33.4% (3485 questionnaires were distributed, 1165 were returned). The response rate of the faculty sample (34.5%) was slightly higher than that of the graduate-student and the undergraduate-student samples (32.5% and 29.3%, respectively). The overall response rate of 33.4% is similar to the response rates obtained by other universities that have used self-administered surveys to measure library use patterns and service priorities of faculty and students.

Observations of space utilization were conducted at regular intervals throughout the Spring Quarter of 1995. The purpose of these observations was to provide both qualitative and quantitative data on the use of public spaces in Regenstein and other libraries at various times of the day and quarter. A total of 190 observations were obtained from April through June, 1995.


Survey Responses


Taken as a whole, the results of the user survey point to three broad conclusions:

Frequency and Patterns of Library Use

Regenstein Library serves a large population of users and meets a diverse range of needs.

Satisfaction with Library Services and Facilities

Most library services and facilities receive positive evaluations from users. The primary sources of dissatisfaction are the on-line catalog, items missing from shelves, and inoperable and unavailable photocopiers. Many undergraduate respondents are also dissatisfied with the limited availability of computer-cluster workstations and group-study rooms.[1]

Options for Service Enhancement and Space Reallocation

While there is broad support among all user groups for retrospective conversion of the card catalog and additional self-service photocopy facilities, there is little agreement on options for reallocating space within Regenstein.


Patterns of Space Utilization


Survey Responses


Frequency and Patterns of Library Use


Tables

Frequency of Regenstein Library Use (Table 1) - A majority of respondents use Regenstein Library at least one time per week. Among faculty and graduate students, frequency of Regenstein use varies by discipline. Graduate students in Regenstein disciplines[2] report the highest rate of use: 81% use Regenstein at least one time per week. Graduate students in the physical and biological sciences use Regenstein much less often: 21% of those in the physical and biological sciences and 22% of those in other disciplines reported that they use Regenstein at least one time per week.

Faculty respondents report the lowest rate of Regenstein use. Among those in Regenstein disciplines, 68% use Regenstein at least one time per week. Only 12% of faculty respondents in the physical and biological sciences and 17% of those in other disciplines use Regenstein at least one time per week.

The rate of Regenstein use among undergraduate respondents is nearly as high as that of graduate students in Regenstein disciplines: 72% of all undergraduate respondents use Regenstein at least one time per week.

Frequency of Other Library Use (Tables 2 through 8) - Faculty and graduate student use of other University libraries is also strongly influenced by discipline. Large percentages of graduate-student and faculty respondents in the Regenstein disciplines report that they rarely or never use libraries other than Regenstein. Crerar Library has the highest percentage of frequent use by respondents from Regenstein disciplines (5% of faculty, 7% of graduate students).

Harper Library is used at least one time per week by 57% of the undergraduate respondents, but is rarely used by faculty or graduate-student respondents, regardless of discipline. Harper Library is second only to Regenstein in the frequency of undergraduate use (57% of undergraduate respondents are frequent users of Harper, 72% are frequent users of Regenstein).

Hours of Library Use (Tables 9 and 10) - Faculty and graduate-student respondents have similar patterns of weekday library use. Both faculty and graduate-student respondents report that they usually go to the library between noon and 6:00 p.m. on weekdays, and between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekends. Although undergraduate respondents are also most likely to use the library between 2:00 and 5:00 on weekends, reported weekday use is concentrated after 6:00 p.m. The reported weekday library use of undergraduate respondents peaks after 9:00 p.m.

Library Use by Purpose (Table 11) - Faculty and graduate student respondents most often use the library to locate a specific book or article from a citation (71% of faculty, 62% of graduate students) and to use the on-line catalog (49% of faculty, 56% of graduate students). Many faculty respondents also use the library to gain access to printed reference materials (43%) and current periodicals (39%), while graduate students often use the library to work or study by themselves (41%). Faculty and graduate-student respondents least often use the library to consult a librarian regarding research (6% of faculty, 7% of graduate students) and to use microform materials (4% of faculty, 4% graduate students).

Undergraduate respondents primarily use the library as a reading and study space: 60% report that they use the library to read or study by themselves. Undergraduate respondents are also much more likely to use the library to gain access to materials on reserve (46%) and computer-cluster workstations (30%). Undergraduate students least often use the library to request interlibrary loan (4%) and to consult a reference librarian (3%).

Patterns of Faculty Access to Library Information and Materials (Table 12) - A large majority (66%) of faculty respondents report that they often go to the library themselves when they need information or materials. Other frequent routes of library access include connecting to the campus network (36%) and sending a research assistant (22%). Only 2% of faculty respondents report that they often request assistance via e-mail, request document delivery, or call a reference librarian when they need information and materials.

Undergraduate Choice of Libraries (Table 13) - Undergraduate respondents cite a variety of reasons for choosing to use a particular library. Among Regenstein users, the most important considerations are workspace and reading areas (rated by 56% as "very important"), books and materials (53%), campus location (52%), and hours of service (46%). The leading reason for choosing Harper is campus location (56% report it is very important), followed by workspace and reading areas (45%). The reason most commonly cited for using Crerar is course reserves, which were rated as very important by 52%; no other reason was described as very important by more than 35% of the respondents. Although very few undergraduate respondents make frequent use of the Law Library, 41% of those who do cited books and materials as a very important reason.

Card Catalog Use (Table 14) - Frequency of card catalog use varies by category of respondent. A majority of faculty and graduate-student respondents report that they often or sometimes use the card catalog (68% of faculty, 52% of graduate students), while a majority of undergraduate respondents report that they rarely or never use the card catalog (29% rarely, 37% never).

Laptop Computer Ownership and Use in Library (Table 15) - Many respondents own laptop computers. Laptop ownership is considerably higher among faculty (58%) and graduate-student respondents (37%) than among undergraduate respondents (18%).

Many of the faculty and graduate students who do not own laptops plan to buy them within the next 12 months (39% faculty, 34% graduate students). Few undergraduates intend to buy a laptop within the coming year (17%).

A majority of the graduate and undergraduate respondents who own laptop computers use them in the library (65% of graduate students, 69% of undergraduates). Only 34% of the faculty respondents owning laptop computers use them in the library. A much larger proportion of those who intend to purchase a laptop state that they plan to use it in the library (56% of faculty, 83% of graduate students, 77% of undergraduate students).


Satisfaction with Library Services and Facilities


Tables

Ratings of Library Services and Facilities (Table 16) - Using a five-point scale, where 1 is defined as excellent and 5 is defined as poor, respondents assign relatively high ratings to the library's quality of collections, professional staff, and range of services, and lower ratings to the library's quality of work space, electronic resources, and condition of space.

While the three groups of respondents are in broad agreement on the ranking of library services and facilities, there are several noteworthy differences. Faculty rate the library's quality of work space much more favorably (1.97) than student respondents (2.48 undergraduates, 2.71 graduates). Similarly, faculty are more positive about the condition of library space (2.24) than either graduate or undergraduate students (2.93 and 2.83, respectively).

Satisfaction with Library Hours (Table 17) - On the whole, respondents are satisfied with library hours, although degree of satisfaction varies by category of respondent. A majority of faculty (57%) describe themselves as very satisfied; only 5% are somewhat or very dissatisfied. Smaller percentages of graduate and undergraduate respondents report that they are very satisfied with library hours (40% of graduate students, 24% of undergraduate students), and larger percentages report that they are either somewhat or very dissatisfied (13% of graduate students, 19% of undergraduate students).

Satisfaction with Service Hours in Regenstein (Table 18) - Satisfaction with Regenstein service hours varies, depending on the service.

Respondents are most satisfied with general circulation services: 71% of faculty, 71% of graduate students, and 67% of undergraduate students described themselves as satisfied with general circulation hours in Regenstein.

In contrast, reserve hours and computer-cluster hours are a source of dissatisfaction to many students, and especially to undergraduate students. While many graduate and undergraduate students have no opinion about computer-cluster hours (51% and 35%, respectively), 40% of those who do are dissatisfied. Undergraduates are particularly dissatisfied (54% of those expressing an opinion).

Reserve hours in Regenstein are also a source of dissatisfaction to many graduate and, especially, undergraduate respondents. Among student respondents expressing an opinion, 36% of graduate students and 49% of undergraduates are dissatisfied with Regenstein reserve hours.

Satisfaction with Library Services and Resources (Table 19) - Faculty respondents are particularly satisfied with their experiences using library resources, services, and facilities. At least 75% of faculty express satisfaction with their experiences using reference services and materials, locating a specific item, and reading current periodicals. The leading cause of dissatisfaction is the on-line catalog (28% of faculty respondents describe themselves as dissatisfied users).

Graduate students also express high levels of satisfaction with their experiences using library reference services and materials, reserves, and reading and study space. However, many are dissatisfied with their experience attempting to locate specific items (24%), and with their use of the on-line catalog (37% ), computer clusters (27%), and electronic information resources (22%). Undergraduate students are particularly satisfied with their experience using the library to read and study (79%) and use reserve materials (71%). The leading sources of dissatisfaction are computer clusters (36%) and the on-line catalog (35%).

Inconveniences Reported by Regenstein Users (Table 20) - Among frequent or occasional Regenstein users, a majority of faculty and graduate-student respondents report that items missing from the shelf is a major inconvenience (74% of faculty, 56% of graduate students). Other frequently cited inconveniences are the unavailability of photocopiers (43% of faculty, 50% of graduate students), materials not listed in the on-line catalog (43% of faculty, 31% of graduate students), and current periodicals missing from the shelves (34% of faculty, 21% of graduate students).

The leading inconveniences reported by undergraduate respondents are the unavailability of computer-cluster workstations (47%) and self-service photocopiers (32%), insufficient workspace or seating (30%), and materials not listed in the on-line catalog (26%).

Spatial Arrangement of Materials and Services in Regenstein (Table 21) - One of Regenstein's most distinctive characteristics is the subject arrangement of library services and staff. Many respondents feel that the configuration of services and workspace in Regenstein makes the library easier to use. Among frequent or occasional users of Regenstein, large majorities of respondents in each user category agree that the subject arrangement of reading and work space, bibliographers, and service desks facilitates library use. Many also feel that the subject organization of periodicals, journals, and reference materials makes Regenstein easier to use. However, at least 20% of the respondents in each user category believe that the separation of periodicals, journals, and reference materials by subject increases the difficulty of library use.[3]

Faculty Opinions About the Arrangement of Regenstein Materials (Table 22) - A large majority of faculty who make frequent or occasional use of Regenstein either agree or agree strongly that the arrangement of materials is extremely useful for conducting research in their field, and nearly half agree or strongly agree that the arrangement of materials in Regenstein is extremely useful for conducting interdisciplinary research.

Experience Using Harper Storage Facility and Compact Shelving in Crerar (Table 23) - Only a small percentage of faculty and graduate-student respondents have used the Harper storage facility or the compact shelving in the basement of Crerar. Among those who have previously used the Harper storage facility, 75% of the faculty and 71% of the graduate students were satisfied with the time it took to receive the materials they requested. Among those who have previously used the compact shelving in Crerar, 87% of the faculty and 88% of the graduate students report that they found it to be convenient.


Options for Service Enhancement and Space Reallocation


Tables
Table 24:       Desired Characteristics of Library Space and Amenities Among Graduate and Undergraduate Students
Table 25:       Options for Reconfiguring Regenstein Services
Table 26:       Conversion of the Card Catalog to Electronic Format
Table 27:       Perceived Importance of Providing Space for Selected Services and Activities in Regenstein
Table 28:       Regenstein Space Allocation Preferences
Table 29:       Options for Increasing Space for Regenstein Collections

Desired Characteristics of Library Space Among Graduate and Undergraduate Students (Table 24) - Asked to rate the importance of different types of library space, both graduate and undergraduate respondents emphasize the need for quiet, uncrowded work spaces. More than 80% of both graduate and undergraduate students rate quiet, uncrowded work areas as very important. Ample space to spread out books and materials is rated a close second: 63% of the graduate-student respondents and 75% of the undergraduate respondents regard it as very important. In addition, a majority of undergraduate respondents rate comfortable chairs and lounge areas as very important (61%, as compared to 41% of graduate students), and a near-majority (48%, as compared to 34% of graduate students) feel that it is very important to have a place to get something to eat or drink.

Options for Reconfiguring Regenstein Services (Table 25) - Despite widespread agreement that the current arrangement of services makes Regenstein easier to use, many faculty respondents and a majority of graduate-student and undergraduate respondents indicate that they would favor the consolidation of service areas if it permitted an increase in service hours. Among frequent or occasional Regenstein users, 57% would favor a single reading and service area for current periodicals; 53% would favor a single location for general and specialized reference services; 56% would favor a single location for general circulation and reserves; and 49% would favor a central service area for microforms and multimedia.

Faculty respondents are consistently less supportive of these options than student respondents, possibly because they are highly satisfied with current service hours in Regenstein.[4] Undergraduate students, who are least satisfied with service hours in Regenstein, are consistently most supportive of reconfiguration options that would extend service hours.

Conversion of the Card Catalog to Electronic Format (Table 26) - Items not listed in the on-line catalog are a leading cause of dissatisfaction among all user categories.[5] Asked to agree or disagree with the statement, "All of the Library's collections should be available in the on-line catalog," 61% of respondents strongly agree and 27% agree; 8% are neutral, and 3% either disagree or strongly disagree. Undergraduate students are most supportive of retrospective conversion of the card catalog (93% agree or strongly agree) and faculty are least supportive (84% agree or strongly agree).

Perceived Importance of Providing Space for Selected Services and Activities in Regenstein (Table 27) - Respondents were asked to rate the importance of providing space in Regenstein for six activities and services. Among frequent or occasional users of Regenstein, the largest proportion of respondents in each user group -- 77% of faculty, 84% of graduate students, and 76% of undergraduate students -- rated facilities and equipment for self-service photocopying as very important. No other service or activity was rated very important by a majority of each user group, although computer clusters emerged as a high priority among students (51% of graduate students and 69% of undergraduates described space for computer clusters as very important), and service areas for help with electronic resources were rated as very important by a near-majority of faculty (48%) and by a majority of students (55% of graduate students and 50% of undergraduate students). Space for social conversation was deemed unimportant by the largest number of respondents in each user group.

Regenstein Space Allocation Preferences (Table 28) - Among frequent or occasional users of Regenstein, undergraduate students respond more favorably to options for space reallocation than graduate students or faculty. For example, 62% of undergraduate students favor an increase in space for quiet study and reading, while only 20% of faculty and 40% of graduate students are in favor of this option. Added space for group study and discussion rooms, favored by 51% of undergraduates, is supported by only 9% of faculty respondents and 29% of graduate-student respondents.

Among faculty and graduate students, "no change" is the most frequent response to nearly every space reallocation option. "No change" is the modal graduate-student response to all six of the reallocation options, and the modal faculty response to five of the six reallocation options. By a narrow plurality, faculty favor reducing the amount for space for armchairs and lounge areas.

Options for Increasing Regenstein Stack Space (Table 29) - Compact shelving appears to be the least unpopular option for increasing stack space within Regenstein. Compact shelving is opposed by only 9% of faculty respondents and 6% of graduate-student respondents who are frequent or occasional Regenstein users. Off-site storage is opposed by 32% of faculty and 36% of graduate students, while the conversion of public space to stack space is opposed by 50% of faculty and 71% of graduate students.

When asked to choose among these three alternatives, 49% of faculty and 65% of graduate students favor compact shelving; 21% of faculty and 19% of graduate students prefer off-site storage; and 8% of faculty and 4% of graduate students prefer the conversion of public space to stack space. A substantial number of respondents -- 22% of faculty and 12% of graduate students -- are unable to choose among these options.

Patterns of Space Utilization

Figures

Tables

Average Occupancy by Week of Quarter (Figure 1) - Of the four weeks in which data on Regenstein use patterns are available, average occupancy is lowest in the third week of the quarter (average of 191 users occupying 8.1% of capacity)[6], and highest in the fifth week of the quarter (334 users, 14.1% of capacity).

Average Occupancy by Time of Day and Day of Week (Figure 2) - The number of Regenstein users varies by time of day and day of week. Although weekday and weekend occupancy levels are generally quite similar during the afternoon and evening hours, weekend occupancy varies somewhat more by time of day; both the lowest and the highest average occupancy levels occur on the weekend. Average Regenstein occupancy is lowest before noon on weekends (131 users occupying 5.5% of capacity), and reaches a high point between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. on weekends (average of 391 users, 16.5% of capacity).

The lowest average level of weekday occupancy occurs between 9:00 p.m. and midnight. Use samples collected between these hours yield an average of 293 occupants (12.4% of capacity). The highest average level of weekday occupancy occurs in the hours between noon and 3:00 p.m., when use samples yield an average of 345 occupants and 14.7% utilization of capacity.

Average Occupancy by Floor and Time of Day (Figure 3) - Average occupancy on each floor of Regenstein peaks in the hours between noon and 6:00 p.m.

The first floor of Regenstein, which has the smallest amount of work and study space of any floor, also has the lowest average level of occupancy. Average occupancy of the first floor drops to an average of only 12 users after 6:00 p.m.

The second floor of Regenstein has the highest level of morning occupancy. In the afternoon, average occupancy is highest on the A-level (including Ex Libris), followed closely by the second and third floors. Evening occupancy is also highest on the A-Level, in part because of the popularity of Ex Libris.

Percentage Distribution of Use by Type of Space (Figure 4) - Work and study areas are by far the most frequently used type of space in Regenstein. Study and work space account for 62% of average Regenstein use. No other type of space accounts for as much as 10% of average use.

Average Utilization Rates for Selected Space and Facilities (Figure 5) - There are wide variations in capacity utilization among different types of space and facilities within Regenstein. The second-floor computer cluster has the highest average utilization rate (64% of capacity). Other heavily used facilities and areas in Regenstein include the on-line catalog terminals (60%) and self-service photocopiers (48%).

There is considerable unused seating capacity in Regenstein's work and study areas, even at peak occupancy levels. Occupied seating in Regenstein's work and study space averages 9.4% of total seating capacity. While there is variation around this average, in no three-hour span does average occupancy of Regenstein's work and study space exceed 13% of capacity. Space for specialized media has the lowest average occupancy rate (6% of available seating).

Average Occupancy of Selected Space and Facilities by Time of Day and Day of Week (Figure 6 ) - Several facilities in Regenstein show distinctive patterns of use by time of day and day of week.

The computer cluster is used most heavily in the weekday hours from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. (72% of capacity) and from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. (73% of capacity). Weekend use is greatest from 9:00 p.m. to midnight (75%).

Electronic resources are used most intensively before noon on weekdays (30% of capacity) and from noon to 3:00 p.m. on weekends (33% of capacity). Substantially less use is made of electronic resources after 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and weekends.

Average utilization rates for on-line catalog terminals and photocopiers also show substantial variation by time of day. On weekdays, use of the on-line catalog terminals ranges between 69% and 83% of capacity before 6:00 p.m, and then falls off sharply in the evenings. Weekend use of the on-line catalog terminals is substantially below peak weekday levels.

Photocopier use follows an even more extreme pattern of daytime peaks and evening valleys. When waiting lines are included, photocopier use exceeds 100% of capacity on weekdays between noon and 3:00 p.m. Photocopier use is much lower during weekday evenings, averaging 19% of capacity from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. and 33% from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. Weekend photocopier use peaks at 64% of capacity from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., and reaches a low of 3% of capacity from 9:00 p.m. to midnight.

Average occupancy of Ex Libris shows relatively little variation by time of day, particularly on weekdays. Weekday use peaks in the hours from noon to 3:00 (33% of capacity) and reaches a low point after 9:00 p.m. (15%). In only one time period -- weekends from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. -- does average occupancy fall below 10%.

Average Occupancy of Work and Study Space by Time of Day and Day of Week (Figure 7) - Average occupancy of Regenstein's work and study space reaches a low of 73 (4% of capacity) on weekends before noon, and peaks at 261 (13% of capacity) on weekends between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. During the week, there is considerably less variation in average occupancy of work and study space by time of day. Average occupancy is at its highest between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. (205 users, 10% of capacity), falling to a low of 150 (8% of capacity) after 6:00 p.m.

Average Occupancy of Work and Study Space by Type of Workspace and Time of Day (Figure 8) - Arm chairs and lounge chairs, with an average occupancy rate of 23% of capacity, are the most heavily used type of work and study space in Regenstein, followed by study tables (9%), carrels (8%), and stack tables (5%). The peak period of use for all types of study space is between noon and 6:00 p.m.

Patterns of User Activity (Table 30) - Most of the work and study space in Regenstein is actually used for that purpose. Although the use samples do show some instances of disruptive behavior and extraneous activity, they constitute a small proportion of total observations and users.

Average Occupancy of Work and Study Space in Harper Library and Regenstein Libraries (Figure 9) - The average number of occupants in Regenstein's spacious work and study areas far exceeds the average number of occupants in Harper. However, a substantially higher percentage of the limited seating capacity in Harper's work and study space is occupied during most weekday and weekend hours. On average, Harper's work and study space is nearly twice as crowded as Regenstein's (16.9% of capacity vs. 9.4% of capacity).

Weekday occupancy of Harper's work and study space averages 29% of capacity between noon and 6:00 p.m -- nearly three times the utilization rate for Regenstein's work and study space (10%) during the same hours. Harper's utilization rate falls sharply after 6:00 p.m., to 16% of capacity, though it remains well above Regenstein's (9%).

Harper's work and study space is used far less intensively on weekends. Nevertheless, the weekend occupancy rate for work and study space in Harper exceeds that in Regenstein prior to noon (6% vs. 4%) and after 6:00 pm. (15% to 8%). Regenstein's weekend occupancy rate for work and study space is one percentage point higher than Harper's from noon to 6:00 p.m. (13% vs. 12%).

Discussion of Findings

"The Libraries cannot satisfy all needs in all quarters. While a service organization, the Libraries must also lead and educate the faculty and students about realities, constraints, and difficult trade-offs and options. Its policy decisions should not be governed by unrealistic attitudes of patrons."
A tenured professor in the Biological Sciences Division, in a written comment on the user survey.

Several themes and patterns emerge from the foregoing analysis of survey responses and space utilization data. With several notable exceptions, the University's library services and facilities receive favorable ratings from the user community.

Members of the user community are generally pleased with the University library's staff, collections, and range of services. Faculty and graduate students are particularly satisfied with the library materials and services that they use most often -- the collections (including current periodicals), and reference materials and services. Similarly, undergraduates are satisfied with their experience using the library to read and study and to obtain course reserve materials.

However, several services and facilities stand out as exceptions to these high ratings. Within Regenstein, the self-service photocopiers and the computer cluster are a source of frustration to many users.[7] Within the library system as a whole, the on-line catalog, and missing or misshelved items are leading causes of dissatisfaction.

Complaints about the limited search capabilities of the on-line catalog will likely diminish when the installation of a new integrated library system is complete. However, installation of this system will not address the frequent complaints of users that materials they need are not listed in the on-line catalog.

"As a first-year graduate student coming from a small liberal arts college I have been shocked at how frequently books I need are unavailable. Otherwise, I've been fairly pleased." A graduate student in the Social Sciences Division.
"The number of books missing from the stacks is absolutely unacceptable. Several areas in the stacks are in such disarray that finding anything becomes virtually impossible." A graduate student in the Humanities Division.
"I have consistently had great trouble finding books in the stacks. Books are commonly shelved in the wrong spot and shelves are messy and unorganized: books are all over the place." A second-year College student.
"The facilities and equipment for self-service photocopying need to be improved urgently." A graduate student in the Humanities Division.
"The number of photocopiers should be doubled at least." A College student.
"Are the photocopiers deliberately substandard and few, to discourage copying? Extremely and constantly frustrating." A non-tenured professor in the Humanities Division.
"The photocopiers at the Reg. are in need of urgent attention." A graduate student in the Humanities Division.
"Cost, quality and consistency of xerox facilities all should be improved." A non-tenured professor in the Biological Sciences Division.
"I find using the photocopiers at the Reg. a constant ordeal." An advanced graduate student in the Social Sciences Division.
"The libraries are wonderful. The only exception -- and a constantly annoying one -- is the poor self-service photocopiers. I have seen far better at far poorer universities." A graduate student in the Social Sciences Division.
"There is no excuse for the library's failure to put its entire collection on-line. I understand that more than 15 years have elapsed since the on-line system was first put in place; at least 10% of the collection could have been placed on-line per year." A graduate student in Law.
"I never use the card catalog because I assumed everything was on-line." A first-year graduate student in the Humanities Division.
"I thought everything was in the on-line catalog." A third-year College student.
"The most important single thing you must do is to make sure there is not a single volume, periodical, or collection that is not referenced and searchable in the on-line catalog." An advanced graduate student in the Humanities Division.
"I cannot stress strongly enough that the current on-line catalog is totally inadequate. The system itself is cumbersome (and slow): no dual header searches, flipping back and forth from page to page... Also, it is a complete annoyance that the on-line catalog does not list the entire collection." A graduate student in Divinity.
"Getting the whole collection into the on-line catalog is high on my wish list." A tenured professor in the Humanities Division.
"Please get everything in the on-line catalog." A tenured professor in the Humanities Division.
"Please, please, please -- update the on-line card catalog!" A second-year College student.

Regenstein's users have a diverse set of needs, expectations, and priorities.

User responses to the survey suggest that Regenstein Library is used for two fundamentally different purposes. For most graduate students and faculty, Regenstein is primarily a research library that provides access to scholarly information resources and specialized bibliographic and reference services. For most College students, Regenstein is an evening and weekend study hall, providing a quiet place to work and study. To be sure, many College students also take advantage of Regenstein's research collection and services, and many graduate students use Regenstein as a place to work and study; but on the whole, graduate and undergraduate students are attracted to Regenstein for very different reasons, and use it for very different purposes. The challenge for library policy-makers is to accommodate the disparate use patterns of undergraduate students and researchers within a single facility.

The survey results suggest that the distinct use patterns of undergraduate students and researchers correspond to equally distinct priorities for space and service enhancements. While a majority of undergraduates want more space for quiet reading and study and for group study, most faculty and graduate students prefer no change in amount of space for those activities in Regenstein. Undergraduates are least satisfied with the hours that the library is open, and they are more likely than faculty or graduate students to support consolidation of service areas in Regenstein in order to extend service hours.

Many of the handwritten notes in the "comments" section of the survey underscore these differences in priorities for space and service enhancements. A large number of College students emphasize the need for separate reading and social areas and extended (preferably 24-hour) access to study space. Some faculty and graduate students favor creating a separate undergraduate library to meet the need for undergraduate study space, while others suggest constructing a student union to provide an alternative to Regenstein as the de facto campus center for undergraduate student life.

"I spent most of my first two years in the Regenstein, due to its late hours and position as a meeting place for other classmates and friends." A third-year College student.
"There should be areas to which undergrads have limited access. For instance, undergrads over-run the study areas. I think the library system should be moving back towards an undergrad/grad library division. Harper should be transformed into a real undergrad library (like Uris at Cornell), instead of consolidating everything in Regenstein." A first-year graduate student in the Social Sciences Division.
"Many students who use the library need study space and not literary resources. If the University could furnish better public study space for students it may be possible to make more effective use of the space in Regenstein." A tenured professor in the Humanities Division.
"The University should build a 'Union' for the undergraduate students and unburden the library system of its ill-suited stand-in role for this facility. We should be hauled over the coals for this thoughtlessness." A tenured professor in the Biological Sciences Division.
"I would like to be able to use a library for a study and reading space 24 hours a day." A first-year College student.
"I have stopped working at the library on a daily basis, and especially during the evening, because of the aggravation caused by noise emanating from group discussion rooms, from rude and unstoppable undergraduates, and from people eating." A graduate student in the Social Sciences Division.
"The College library (Harper) seems underused. Is it sufficiently attractive and/or useful for undergraduates? Could it be made more so? Collections augmented, slumber-inviting furniture reduced, displays, exhibits, pictures used to enliven atmosphere? Would such steps be helpful in meeting Regenstein's problems?" A tenured professor.
"This is a research library and I think on the whole it works well. And research is what should be kept foremost in everyone's minds as you consider changes." An advanced graduate student in the Humanities Division.
"I think that there should be one library (preferably the Regenstein) with 24 hour study facilities or reading rooms. Although we get 24 hour study space in the Hutchinson commons (during finals), it's not very good study space because it's noisy and the lighting is bad, and a library study area is really much more conducive to productive work." A first-year College student.
"I hope that you will not buy into the 'social' space at the expense of shelf space. There are other places on campus which offer such amenities, and they shouldn't come at the expense of the research resources of the University." A graduate student.
"Socializing in the Regenstein should not be that important in reconsidering space allocation -- there are other places for that -- and computer clusters should be located in other buildings as well." A graduate student.
"The Reg is like our student union, therefore we need a mix of social and quiet areas." A second-year College student.

Most Regenstein users are open to the possibility of change in the spatial configuration of services and materials.

The survey results show that Regenstein's users are, on the whole, open to the possibility of change in the spatial configuration of services and materials, and in some cases favor such reconfiguration. A majority of graduate and undergraduate students and many faculty favor consolidating service points in Regenstein to extend service hours for current periodicals, reference services, and circulation and reserves. Relatively few Regenstein users oppose these reconfiguration options; the majority of all user groups either favor the option suggested or express no opinion.

Many faculty and graduate students are undecided about options for increasing space for Regenstein collections. Although a majority favor compact shelving, opinions about using off-site storage are equally divided between those who favor the option, those who oppose it, and those who are undecided. The conversion of public space to stack space is the only reconfiguration option rejected by a majority of graduate students and faculty.

Users are divided on how best to organize Regenstein space. Some favor retaining the current organization of services and materials by subject area. Others favor reorganizing Regenstein to create spaces designated for certain activities.

"I have worked in many, many different libraries. Regenstein is the most pleasant and user-friendly because it offers a mixture of specialized areas plus integration of different specializations. It offers the advantages of the local and the global all in one building." A non-tenured professor in the Humanities Division.
"The organization of the materials is really confusing. A good library is one where the student can find his way around easily." A first-year College student.
"The library is one of the most complicated places I have ever gone to get information... Things seem to be organized randomly, and there is hardly ever anyone around to ask for help. Regenstein is a great resource; it's too bad that it's so hard to use." A graduate student in Business.
"I would prefer that all social science/humanities periodicals and journals be placed in one location with controlled entrance and exit." A tenured professor in the Social Sciences Division.
"It would be interesting to restructure the journals and periodicals so that they were all on one floor, with lounge chairs and reading areas -- a kind of 'homier' and friendlier, more congenial space." An advanced graduate student in the Social Sciences Division.
"To use first floor entry of Reg as multimedia, copier, computer center, would allow more space for more machines and also less noise and distractions on other levels." A first-year College student.
"The service stations on each floor would have been nice if they were fulfilling their original function -- to enable circulation services on each floor. Since they don't do this, I wonder if that space could be used." A first-year graduate student in the Humanities Division.
"There is nothing that keeps my horizons wide and my mood bright like the 'Reg.' And, as far as I can see, none of the changes under consideration, if put into effect, will alter this." A faculty member.
"Electronic services are widely distributed and inconsistently described. A singular location would be helpful." A College student.
"As I see it, the big problems with the Reg are its physical condition, the relative lack of group study spaces (more are sorely needed -- this is an important part of my studies), and socializing in study spaces. I think it is a good idea to have separate quiet areas and a social area, possibly with periodicals." A third-year College student.
"More quiet study space with lounge chairs; more separate group meeting rooms." A first-year College student.
"I think it is essential that there be quiet reading rooms for students. While the reading rooms that exist right now are theoretically 'quiet' reading rooms, this is not actually the case. It would be nice if there were reading rooms designated as 'no discussion allowed." A third-year College student.
"Special rooms should be made for laptop people so their annoying clicking noises do not disturb others." A third-year College student.
"As a laptop computer owner, I frequently use it in the library. My request on this is that laptop owners need some kind of space where only laptop users can occupy. The reason is that current scattered laptop-available desks are placed and set aside usually at the entrance/exit area. This distracts our concentration." A graduate student in Business.
"People should be able to use laptop computers in the library. However, these users often distract others in the reading areas. Perhaps there should be a separate space for those using laptops." A College student.
"I feel that the study/group rooms need to have better isolation because conversations from these rooms can still be heard within the library." A College student.
"Needed: a renovation; bigger and better Ex Libris; study rooms surrounding tables in the center; designate certain floors for individual study." A second-year College student.
"The most important things, I believe, are to enlarge and update the Reg's computer cluster, provide more areas where one can be alone and yet still have considerable space to spread out. For example, the study carrels are too small and cramped but the large tables are always crowded and in the open. Finally there should be more group study rooms." A third-year College student.

APPENDIX

Survey Development, Sample Design, and Response Rate

Tables

All data on the use patterns, service priorities, and space needs of library users were obtained from a survey of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students. The survey was distributed by mail to all full-time faculty, and to samples of graduate students and undergraduate students. Follow-up surveys were distributed by mail to all full-time faculty and graduate students who did not respond to the initial survey. The initial mailing began on May 1 and the follow-up mailing to non-respondents began on May 11.

The questionnaire and sample design were developed in close consultation with the Library administration. During the initial phase of the project, individual interviews were conducted with senior Library administrators and Library professional staff to discuss project objectives and identify issues to be addressed in the user survey.

When this initial round of interviews were completed, a series of focus-group interviews were conducted with library professional staff, faculty, undergraduate students, and graduate students. The purpose of these interviews was to identify problems and issues of particular salience to library users and the professional staff who work most closely with them. .

Following these interviews, three survey questionnaires were developed -- one each for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students. Although the three questionnaires shared many questions in common, it became clear in the focus-group interviews that some issues were of great concern to one user group and of no concern to another. Separate questionnaires were developed to allow for these differences.

The draft questionnaires were pre-tested on a small group of faculty, undergraduate students, and graduate students. The survey was also reviewed with a group of library professional staff in an effort to identify confusing instructions or questions. The completed questionnaires and comments of these groups were reviewed thoroughly. Several questions were substantially revised, and several others were eliminated.[8]

The survey sample was also designed in close consultation with the Library administration. The number of surveys distributed and the number of responses received is shown in Table A.1. The overall response rate of 33.4% is similar to the response rates obtained by other universities that have used self-administered surveys to measure library use patterns and service priorities of faculty and students.[9]

To ensure maximum faculty participation in the study, the Library administration decided from the outset of the project that the survey would be mailed to all of the University's 1230 full-time faculty, rather than to a sample of the faculty population. A total of 424 questionnaires were returned, yielding a faculty response rate of 35%.

The graduate student sample was designed to provide a disproportionately large number of respondents from "Regenstein disciplines" -- i.e., humanities, social sciences, business, divinity, and public policy. The total sample of graduate students consisted of two subsamples: 1000 students selected at random from Regenstein disciplines, and 255 students selected at random from all other disciplines. The number of graduate students selected from each division or school was proportional to its share of graduate enrollments in the subpopulation of Regenstein or other disciplines. A total of 448 questionnaires were returned, yielding a graduate-student response rate of 33%.

The undergraduate sample of 1000 students was selected at random. A total of 293 questionnaires were returned, yielding a response rate of 29%.

Space Utilization Data


Data Collection


All data on space utilization in Regenstein and Harper libraries were obtained from an observational study of library use patterns that was conducted during the Spring Quarter of 1995. To the extent practicable, the sample was designed to measure quantitative and qualitative patterns of use in all public spaces of Regenstein and Harper libraries at various times of the day, week, and quarter. Observations were conducted during the weeks of April 10th, April 24th, May 8th, and May 29th.

A total of 190 observations were conducted in Regenstein, Harper, and Crerar libraries. An average of 25 observations were conducted on each floor of Regenstein, yielding a total of 151 observations in Regenstein. In addition, 23 observations were conducted in Harper and 16 observations were conducted in Crerar.

Because the data on space utilization in Harper and Regenstein are based on an average of approximately 25 observations per space, there is considerable potential for sampling error. For this reason, the data on space utilization should be interpreted with caution.


Definition of Spaces and Seating Capacity


All of Regenstein's and Harper's public space and facilities were classified according to primary use, based on the categories shown in Table A.5. Where applicable, the capacity of the space or facility was determined on the basis of available seating. Utilization of capacity was determined as a percentage of occupied seating. In the case of certain facilities, such as photocopiers, capacity was determined on the basis of the number of users who could be accommodated at one time, rather than on the basis of seating. There are many types of library space -- e.g., stack space -- for which this approach to capacity measurement yields inappropriate or unsatisfactory results. Of the twelve categories of space shown in Table A.5, four were excluded from the analysis of capacity utilization because they did not fit the definition of capacity described above. However, they were included in all other tabulations of space use.


End Notes

  1. The Library provides space for computer clusters, but is not responsible for operating or maintaining them.
  2. "Regenstein disciplines" include the Humanities Division, the Social Sciences Division, the Graduate School of Business, the Divinity Schook, and the Graduate School of Public Policy.
  3. The relatively high percentages of respondents with no opinion on these questions may either indicate that the physical reconfiguration of Regenstein is unimportant to many users, or that the wording of the questions was confusing.
  4. See Table 18
  5. See Table 19 and Table 20
  6. Since many library users prefer not to sit elbow-to-elbow, they may preceive a library to be crowded even though a substantial percentage of seating capacity is unoccupied.
  7. As noted previously, the Library merely provides space for computer clusters, and is not responsible for operating or maintaining them.
  8. Copies of the final quesionnaires are available from Thomas J. Dorst, the Regenstein Reconfiguration Project Manager.
  9. See Anthony W. Ferguson, Patricia Burch, and Daniel King, editors, Scientific Information Study, (New York: Columbia University Libraries, 1993) and Association of Research Libraries, Office of Management Services, User Surveys in ARL Libraries, (Washington, D.C., 1994).