Survey 2010 comments: comparisons to other libraries


1. Having lived and worked other places, it is a genuine pleasure to return to Regenstein where I can take for granted that I will be able to find the materials I am searching for, no matter how esoteric. Our library system is what makes this a premier research university. I am also pleased that unlike some universities, Chicago scholars know how important browsing actual, physical bookshelves is to research. Would that I were better at instilling this in undergraduates elsewhere! (Guess I'm getting old after all!)

2. I have been teaching at a well-respected university, and I can't believe the stunning difference between the U of C libraries and that university's resources. It actually crossed my mind that I didn't want to finish my dissertation so I wouldn't have to give up my Regenstein privileges. You do a wonderful job, to the point where, as I mentioned, I've seen dancing angels and hear choral music. I'll be lost and lonely without you!

3. In the past six months, I have used libraries in New York (Columbia, New York Public Libraries), Berlin (Staatsbibliothek) and Konstanz, Germany (Universität Konstanz), and am acutely aware of the extraordinary resources that the University of Chicago's library offers.

4. Compared to my previous institutions (Reed College & Oxford University), UChicago has a far superior range of online subscriptions (databases, e-journals, etc.)

5. Wonderful job all! I've used many research libraries, including Harvard's Widener system and Northwestern's, and U of C is truly world-class.

6. I've been to many libraries in the world. This is the best, or at least one of the best in my field (South Asia study). Thank you so much!

7. I now teach at a university with quite a good library, but it's no Regenstein.

8. Great library system! I've taught elsewhere and realize how privileged we are at U of C.

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9. The Reg needs more diverse study spaces: quiet areas, reading tables with lamps, cubicle areas, etc. Brighten up that drab space! It is very unpleasant to work there. (full disclosure: my experience with other libraries which I found to be better in physical layout are the CUNY Graduate Center and Vassar College)

10. I wished there were more quiet/silent spaces for individual study that were not in the cubicles where there are people walking around. i.e. At the University of Michigan there were small carrels in the stacks with doors that you could close and not be bothered by any outside noise or distractions.

11. I say it every time there is a survey. Make one of the floors in the Regenstein an Absolute Quiet Floor. Hundreds of people will thank you. And it's not that crazy of an idea: most serious universities have such a thing in their libraries.

12. I would like to see better, quieter study spaces -- especially designated carols for graduate students like at other major universities.

13. I have contacted the library previously about the lack of quiet space for graduate research and writing. As enrollment increases, spaces in which graduate students can work becomes increasingly hard to find. Undergraduates tend to work together and are studying, rather than writing, which means frequent talking--not to mention the amount of food and electronics they bring with them for distraction. This is a major problem toward the end of the quarter when most graduate students are driven out of the Regenstein. This is unacceptable. For those of us working toward our doctorate, we cannot be asked to interrupt our writing schedule every 8 weeks (now more frequently). How many universities of Chicago's status don't have graduate-exclusive work spaces?

14. I think, there is desperate need for some real quiet-study spaces. I saw one of those at a library in Madison and it worked there because: - The space for quiet study is designated as such and is not combined with any other spaces (like collections, lockers, library computers etc.) - There are no tables for group study, only single booths - There are signs reminding that this is a quiet study area and that one can be asked to leave, if one doesn't follow the rules - Users are asked to use quiet laptop keyboards, which one can borrow there

15. I have contacted the library previously about the lack of quiet space for graduate research and writing. As enrollment increases, spaces in which graduate students can work becomes increasingly hard to find. Undergraduates tend to work together and are studying, rather than writing, which means frequent talking--not to mention the amount of food and electronics they bring with them for distraction. This is a major problem toward the end of the quarter when most graduate students are driven out of the Regenstein. This is unacceptable. For those of us working toward our doctorate, we cannot be asked to interrupt our writing schedule every 8 weeks (now more frequently). How many universities of Chicago's status don't have graduate-exclusive work spaces?

16. When the new wing is complete, I really wish some space would be allotted for small 5' X 8' private rooms that students can apply for quarterly access keys to. This way, grad students who commute down can have a place to study as they spend the day down in Hyde Park. My undergrad institution had this and it was huge for me as far as studying goes.

17. Also, I wish that the Reg or another campus library had specifically assigned study carrels available for rent to students who don't have other study space options, as on other campuses; as a qualitative SSD student, I don't get my own research space or office on campus, and would really appreciated a designated study space within the reg, beyond a library locker--a place where I could leave books set out so I can quickly return to my own work.

18. As an advanced Ph.D. student, I would really appreciate a small locking carrel--that is, a room with a door. Many graduate students have offices, but my division (the Divinity School) does not. A carrel would greatly facilitate my working abilities and make my use of the library more efficient. It would also put us on a par with our peer institutions.

19. Study Carrel/locker check-out system would be nice. Other major research library allow for on-site check-out of materials. That way you can better track items that are in the library, but also in use by other patrons, saving everyone time from searching stacks and lockers.

20. I avoid studying in Regenstein because it is not very well lit! It's too bad, because at my undergraduate institution, the library was the center of academic life.

21. The lighting/general study atmosphere of the Reg is not as pleasant as other research libraries I've used.

22. A well lit luxurious reading room [similar to the Philips Reading room at Harvard's Widener would be perfect!

23. It has always been frustrating that only certain subjects have specific graduate reading rooms. Other peer institutions, Columbia, for example, offer ample spaces for a much wider selection of subject areas

24. The interior feels like a regional corporate office in the 1970s. Drab surroundings, institutional lighting. It's an embarrassment in comparison to peer institutions.

25. One of the MAIN thoughts I had about coming to UofC was knowing how splendid the resources for study would be. However, one thing I REALLY would love is a dedicated MULTI-MEDIA center along the lines of Northwestern's

26. Not a research point but--public displays and art are really important in the main areas of the library. The libraries have an extremely important role to play in recovering, preserving and displaying institutional and local histories. (I did my undergrad at U of Toronto and they had a fantastic art and archive display program. Many, many people made use of the space and not just during their lunch hours.)

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27. ILL is *very* slow in comparison to other schools I have worked with.

28. Interlibrary loan works very well, though I usually use it to get my primary sources. It's really not fast enough to be an option when a book is checked out or is not on the shelf. There is a service at the University of Washington library in which they cooperate with all of the other Pac NW universities libraries call Summit. And with Summit you can request a book from another area library and it will be there in 2 days. It is great for when things are checked out, because one usually needs the book faster than the person who has it checked out will return it once its recalled. Not to mention, you don't have recall books that other people are using. And you don't have hate the library and its users with every fiber of your soul when a book is not on the shelf, because you can just Summit it and it will be there soon. Also, at the University of Washington library one could request online that books be brought down to circulation. So you could find what you needed in the catalog then request it, and it would all be there that afternoon to pick up. That saved so much time. I would love it if the University of Chicago had either one of those services.

29. When I was at Columbia University they had a great thing called Borrow Direct. It was basically ILL on steroids. You could search a database that included catalogs from participating universities in the NE and get books from them in 3 days. I really miss it. It would be great if something like that could be started here...

30. It is crucial that you solve the issues related to email notification! It is very, very frustrating to be warned that a book is overdue ... the day after. There's no reason an automated service could not be set up to send out early reminders!! Other university libraries are MUCH better at this!

31. Coming from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I must say I've been impressed. I did like UIUC's feature that allowed you to have any book waiting for pickup at any library (I understand that would take a lot of labor time though).

32. Since I keep a lot of my books in my locker in the library, it would be EXCEPTIONALLY CONVENIENT to have kiosks on each floor to check out quarterly-loan books. We had such technology at UCLA and I appreciated how easily I could check out my own books using the kiosk. This would obviate the necessity for me to go to the main floor to check out books and then return again to the 4th floor where my locker is. (Ok, this sounds not so bad, but it is absurdly annoying

33. Notre Dame has self-service checkout after hours, leaving the building open until 2AM with a security guard. It works really well.

34. Self service checkout of books in various locations around the library so that books could be put right in our lockers without having to drag them around the building - like at Northwestern library.

35. My undergraduate institution had computerized stations for self-check out. That allowed us to check out books on the fly and near closing time whe staff didn't want to or was busy

36. I've heard of some libraries that will, upon request, scan a book or article that is in the print collection and email it to the library user.

37. I've belonged to many university libraries, and U of C is the only one with the recall procedure. I think there are better ways to handle this situation

38. At my previous university, books could be recalled, but that meant that the student currently in possession of the book would not be able to renew the book. He/she would still have the book for the original check-out length. The other student waiting for the book could, in the meantime, check out that same book through Inter Library Loan, even though the library technically owned that book already. With this system no one had to worry about his/her book being taken or about not being able to find the book he/she was looking for. UChicago's system privileges the student who got there second or it starts a recall war. I find it very ineffective.

39. The library fines are pretty ridiculous. And the return policy in general is a bit extreme. Students pay a lot to go to the U of C. At my previous institution, we could renew books online continually until another student or faculty member requested the book. There have been several times when I have hung onto a book that I needed, gotten charged a late fee, and then had to check it out again immediately--no one else needed it, and I still did. I would like to see the library implement a policy whereby you can renew until someone else requests the book.

40. The database finder really doesn't work to actually find anything in Psychology. I used it all the time as an undergrad at Washington University, but it is unusable here

41. Off-campus access to electronic journals and databases is horrible, in my opinion. It is so inefficient and time-consuming. I think there should be a system where you only have to log in once (per use, I mean) off-campus and then when you go to PubMed you can access the full -texts right from there. This is how it was at my old school.

42. At my old school, you could log into your school account remotely and access all the articles the school had access to right off of PubMed. Here, I generally find I have to search PubMed then log into the library account and search for the article I found that I want to read.

43. Also, if there is a way to click directly through from Google Scholar to e-copies of articles, instead of going through the whole catalog hunt, that would be fantastic, it's such a time/frustration saver; Stanford currently uses this system.


44. (at Regenstein) printing and copying are incredibly overpriced. They give me a greater incentive to simply check out the resource and scan it at home, or rather to use the scanner at the library instead of the copiers. Other libraries have much more economical photocopying options.

45. I was just doing some research at Texas Tech University (by no means a place that's comparable in wealth and resources to the UofC), and they have these incredible industrial-sized scanners with embedded LCDs, and high speeds. It took me literally ten minutes to scan a 300-page book! And it was totally free. The university should have just swallowed the upkeep costs on a scanner.

46. we definitely need more computers (my undergrad library had a program where students could rent out laptops, as well as the same number of desktops for about a quarter of the number of students)

47. Printing fees are also quite costly, compared to other universities I have visited.

48. I do not use the printers at the library, because they seem complicated and time-consuming. My past institution had free printing (there was a limit per semester). I think the University of Chicago should have something like this instituted, rather than charging for printing.

49. There need to be more than one microform/microfilm station that digitizes images. I used the ST200 AM/MOCA at the Library of Congress and it is great

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50. Longer hours are always welcome during the last two weeks of class. Near the end of last quarter there were nights where I had to leave before I was really ready to. At my old campus, during the last week of class the library would operate under extended hours which was very helpful.

51. Coming from a university with a 24-hr library, Regenstein is an acquired taste that lacks a lot of the flavors (multiple copies of books that I need, 24 hr, free print quota) that make a library experience easy, simple and cost effective.

52. I didn't go to a great undergraduate institution and the library was about the only thing I could say was better there than at University of Chicago.

53. I wish the library were run like BYU's Harold B. Lee library. the online searches are easier/more intuitive, printing is much easier etc.

54. Also, there are books that are critical to my field, and the library has one copy, sometimes it's lost, and many students end up having to take turns reading it. I am aware that other institutions at times have multiple copies of such books.

55. Latin American social science division is good, but still lags a little behind that of Univ. of Illinois (at Urbana)

56. I find your African section to be lacking and I have to use Northwestern to enhance my research.

57. I would like to see the Library at Chicago to be as progressive as the library at the University of Michigan in terms of digitization.

58. Duke seems to have a good digital archive. Is there a way we cold access that or get a book "loaned" to us from their archive through interlibrary loan?

59. I have used lots of academic libraries and nowhere else have I had so many problems finding library materials.

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