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Feedback Survey and Use Study Findings



From Sunday, April 18, 2010 through Saturday, May 1, 2010 during each hour the library was open, feedback surveys were provided to anyone using any of the new furniture or technology elements installed as part of the information commons experiment.  During the same dates, the library also conducted a building use study to determine how widely used all areas of the library were during the open hours as well as determine areas that are underutilized and can be considered for redesign.  In order to conduct the building use study, detailed floor plans were devised showing each of the locations of the different types of study spaces and furnishings used by students during their visits to the library.  Student employees walked the entire building hourly and noted where anyone using the building was located and what type of activity they were engaged in at the time (e.g. studying, using a laptop, talking, etc.).  The data from the building use study was entered into a Qualtrics online survey instrument in order to allow for processing of the data and running analysis reports.

Overall Results

A total of 122 feedback surveys were returned with a variety of student comments.  The majority of surveys returned (n=58) were from students using the new “Resolve” workstation.  The second largest number of surveys returned (n=21) were from students using the 3rd floor group technology rooms.  The third largest number of surveys returned (n=16) were from students using the “Wireworks” workstation.  The use study also indicated that among the new information commons elements these were the most highly used areas with the “Resolve” in use the most (n=398), “Wireworks” was the second most used (n=267), and the group technology rooms third most used (n=237).[1] General observations by students on the feedback survey or comments provided during the open house event included:

  • “Both the furniture and computers are far more attractive than those in the library before and give the overall feel of a more modern facility.”
  • “The Library has definitely been updated for the better.”
  • “Great facelift to the library!”
  • “Thanks for everything you’ve done with the library! It is a much better place to work now.  I’m glad there are bigger workspaces and the new Macs.”

Resolve Workstation

The “Resolve” workstation is located in a visible space close to the front entrance and has three new 27” iMacs; both of these factors likely contributed to its popularity.  During the use study it was in use every day of the week and every hour of the day.  Student surveys indicated that it was used by groups at least 19% of the time, the group sizes ranged from 2-5 people, and 5 out of 11 groups were formed by their professor.  Students who answered the question “would you like to see more of this” answered yes 49 out of 51 times (96%).  Student comments included:

  • “It is easier to work as a group at these computers.”
  • “The new Macs make even complex presentations and projects possible!”
  • “I like the whimsical design.”
  • “It has given me the incentive to come to the library to work rather than in my room.”
  • “I love how big the computer screen is because I can have my sources up along with the paper I’m writing.  It’s awesome!”
  • “I’ve never used the library this much until these computers came.”
  • “The 2 walls surrounding the computer make it kind of private, while the desk gives me space to read and write while searching for information on the internet.”
  • Suggestion: “It would be nice to have a second small computer for researching together or being able to work on multiple pieces at once.”
  • Suggestion: “Put these stations in other areas of the library.”

Other feedback provided by students indicated that some liked the sail and canopy design elements of the piece and others thought they were pointless; some students found the hard plastic chairs comfortable and others didn’t; some students thought the area was too distracting in the open and others mentioned that they could concentrate better here; one student indicated that they hate Macs but many students indicated they want more of these large iMacs.

Wireworks Workstation

The “Wireworks” workstation is located in a less visible space near the reference book stacks and has three new PCs.  During the use study it was in use every day of the week and every hour of the day.  Student surveys indicated that it was used by groups at least 12.5% of the time (2 out of 16), 2 people comprised the group size, and groups were self formed.  Students who answered the question “would you like to see more of this” answered yes 10 out of 12 times (83%).  The use study showed students used laptops slightly more at the Wireworks workstation (n=11) than at the Resolve workstation (n=8), this is likely due to the desk space design conducive to laptop use and the visibility of the pop-up electrical outlets.  Student comments included:

  • “Comfortable, allows me to work in a way that’s more efficient for me because of the amount of space I have to spread out my work”
  • “It’s easier to get work done in an environment like this.”
  • “Really nice chair, a lot of space to work in and spread out.”
  • “Everything is up to date, allows me to be alone and focused.”
  • “The chair is comfortable and functional; there is enough space at the table to spread out.”
  • Suggestion: “Larger screens for the Windows machines and Windows 7!”

Other student feedback indicated that students were happy the computers were PCs and they had Microsoft Office products installed.  All comments about the chairs were positive except some thought they should have arm rests; at least one student chose this space so they could plug in their laptop, and several students commented on the privacy this space provides.  One survey indicated that a student thought this workstation was excessive and we should replace it with less expensive furniture that would allow us to put more computers in the space.

3rd Floor Group Technology Rooms

Information Technology configured the two group study rooms on the 3rd floor with a Mac mini, a large screen TV, many software programs and clear instructions for use.  The doors were changed so they are always locked and students can check out a key from the Circulation desk as well as reserve the room in advance for their group project work.  During the use study the rooms showed no use on Saturdays, but were in use every other day of the week.  They also showed no use before 11am, and were in highest demand in the late afternoon and night hours, especially 10-11pm.  The room was in use by groups 100% of the time because these rooms can only be used by groups of 2 or more.  The majority (57%) of groups were comprised of 2 people, 1/3 of groups were made up of 3 people (7 out of 21), and 9.5% included groups of 4. Students reported that 76% of their groups were self-formed, and the rest (5 out of 21) were formed by their professor.  Students who answered the question “would you like to see more of this” answered yes 19 out of 21 times (90%).  In addition to using the provided technology the use study shows students also used laptops in these rooms 40.5% of the time.  Student comments included:

  • “We wanted to use this room so we could be loud and do our video project.”
  • “Computer and TV screen!  Wow, it’s a great idea!”
  • “Its exclusive quiet and good for group projects due to the big screen.”
  • Suggestion: “Wish there was a smart board or whiteboard in the room.”
  • Suggestion: “There should be more room to place books.  The table isn’t big enough.”
  • Suggestion: “It would be nice to have another computer attached to the flat screen so we could both work at the same time.”

Other student feedback indicated that students used the room to complete PowerPoint group projects, video projects, interview recording, and poster preparation.  Some students complained that there were only two rooms like this and that a room wasn’t available when they needed it.  One student indicated they liked that it was reservable and another student indicated they didn’t like that they could only reserve it for a limited time.  Other suggestions included adding a printer, adding a webcam for imovie, painting the rooms blue, more comfortable chairs and adding more quiet rooms with less technology.

Moveable Furniture

The surveys and the use study indicated that the moveable furniture was not widely popular.  A total of 18 feedback surveys were returned related to the various moveable furniture options (Tea Cup chair=8, Jessa chair=4, Triangle tables=4, Enlite tables=1, Whiteboards=1). The use study showed that all of our existing lounge chairs are more heavily used than the new moveable tablet arm lounge chairs.  One reason for this low use may have been the location of the lounge chairs during the study, as a small experiment has indicated that when the new chairs are relocated near a window they are much more heavily used.  Also, students didn’t seem to realize they could move the moveable furniture to any space in the library they needed it.  The surveys indicated that the students that did use the tablet arm lounge chairs, the mobile whiteboards, and the “Enlite” table liked their features.  An interesting finding from the survey showed that the “Jessa” lounge chair was used by self-formed groups 3 out of 4 times, and the “Tea Cup” was used by self-formed groups 1 out of 7 times; this may indicate that these lounge chairs might be worthwhile to students forming small informal groups. Student comments included:

  • “It is comfortable and provides a platform to lay my books on.  I also like that this platform can rotate in case I have to get up suddenly.” (using the Tea Cup chair)
  • “The chairs were very comfortable.  I enjoy chairs with arms.” (using the Tea Cup chair)
  • “It makes a good workspace if I only need my computer.  It’s too small if I need to spread out.” (using the Tea Cup chair)
  • “Very comfortable and perfect for my back.” (using the Jessa chair)
  • “The table space is perfect for the work I have.  I like to be able to spread out, but not have too much space.  I LOVE these chairs!” (using the Enlite table with the mesh back chair)
  • “I would use this frequently and write essays.” (using the Enlite table)
  • “The dry erase boards are helpful when working on math or science homework and can be used anywhere.”
  • “It’s nothing special.” (using the Triangle table)

New Quiet Space Desk on L Floor

Two attached workspaces with frosted glass dividers and large L shaped desktops were donated and added to the L Floor to provide an alternative design for workspaces in quiet study areas.  The chairs provided for this workspace have a mesh seat and were a similar design to the all plastic black seats on the first floor. Nine feedback surveys were returned by students using this area. During the use study it was in use every day of the week and every hour of the day (total use n=137). The feedback showed use by three groups, all self-formed, 2 groups comprised of 2, the other group comprised of 4.   Students who answered the question “would you like to see more of this” answered yes 9 out of 9 times (100%).  The use study showed students used laptops in this space 70% of the time.  Student comments included:

  • “I think they are much better than the small uncomfortable desks that are throughout the library.”
  • “It provided privacy by placing walls on the desks but it did not make me feel claustrophobic.  Also there was a power outlet easily accessible to charge my computer.  The chair was comfortable.”
  • “More desks like this would be great and more comfortable chairs for the single desks with the dividers.”
  • “I like the seclusion it provides.  It’s a very good alternative to the rooms.  Also, the chairs are much more comfortable than the ones at the desks.  The outlets are very handy as well.”
  • “It’s too close to the person next to me.  If they were working in a group then I wouldn’t be able to study here.”
  • “Since study rooms are always taken there is a big need for quiet big work areas.”

Other student feedback indicated that students liked the large desk space, the comfort of the chairs and that it was private and in a quiet area.  One person indicated they wanted chairs that adjust with lumbar support, and another individual indicated they didn’t like the frosted windows.

Summary Suggestions from Students

The following summary of suggestions is based on all the feedback provided through comments on surveys, during the open house event, on the library blog and during meetings with student groups.

Student Suggestions

[1] This number provides a measure of how much an area was in use in comparison to other areas in the library.  Individuals were counted every hour a use study was conducted, regardless of how long that person may have been in the same location.  Use studies were conducted 176 times during the course of the 2 weeks.  To see full comparison data view the public report at: https://mcdaniel.qualtrics.com/CP/Report.php?RP=RP_eG7elWqwxtWQGqw