Tell us what you like! Getting student input

At Massey University Library we are reorganising some of the student areas on level 1 of our building on the ManawatŇę campus. As part of this project my colleagues on the project team are gathering feedback from students about what types of furniture they would like.

Their method for gathering feedback is straightforward and simple – and utterly brilliant.

A display has been set up to gather the feedback. There are visuals for the different furniture options and a short description for each. Nothing too wordy here:

photo (11)


Students can vote for the furniture options they would like:

photo (14)


They also have the option to add other comments on post-it notes:

photo (12)


And this has to be my favourite post-it ūüôā

photo (2)In addition we have also given students the option to comment on our Library blog, Library Out Loud, and via our Facebook page.



We so do not want to be the socks

Yet another snappy video from Arizona State University – this time showing how students can connect with the¬†Library to give feedback. I love the analogy with birthday presents – if you don’t tell someone what you want, you’ll end up with socks ūüėČ

Article: Working with campus marketing classes to improve reference visibility

This article* describes how a library worked with¬†marketing classes at Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU) to improve students’ interest in using reference services. This gave the opportunity for students to engage in a real-world problem, while meeting the academic needs of the course and providing the library with ideas as to how they could improve the visibility and usefulness of the service. Some key points from the article for me were:

  • the Library only specified two questions, the students generated the bulk of the survey questions
  • the survey results confirmed that the students love the library facility but fail to use its resources, specifically the reference desk to the fullest
  • students tended to be technology savvy, time poor, and unwilling to ask for assistance
  • students used Google as their main resource, and would ask peers and lecturers for help, but were unlikely to ask librarians
  • ¬†the words “reference” and “information” were meaningless to students

Students provided recommendations for improving reference services, which were then considered by the librarians. As a result of this project:

  • a secondary sign was added to the “Information desk” sign – a large yellow “help” button
  • an instant messaging (IM)¬†service was initiated (apparently marketing students “strongly advocated” this – Meebo was eventually chosen)
  • promotional materials were developed for the IM service and for the email reference service
  • walk-in workshops on specific topics were suggested by students, but were not pursued as they had failed to attract student interest in the past. As an alternative the library did decide to work on relationships with student groups – a “handful” of these scheduled time on sessions to improve research skills
  • the seating arrangements of the student assistant/librarian at the reference desk was reversed, with the librarian taking the front and center seat and the student assistant moving to the back

The article notes that the number of reference transactions jumped as a result of the changes, but overall “aggregate numbers continued to trend downward, though less dramatically”.

A second round of marketing class/library collaboration was undertaken with students developing marketing plans for the library. Ultimately this was considered less useful than the original collaboration as “the suggestions did not fit for¬†the image that we wanted to portray¬†and were not as appropriate for the real world as they seemed on paper”.¬† Of the suggestions that did fit, one was the adoption of a¬† standardised visual identifier (which eventually replaced the help button), that was used in a consistent manner across the website, on handouts etc. This identifier – the “AskeAmes” logo¬†was created by a graphic design student.

I’m wondering now if there would be scope for something like this at the university I work at. I’d be very interested to hear if anyone else has undertaken similar collaborations.

Spotted on the M Word – Marketing Libraries blog

* Duke, L. M., & MacDonald, J. B. (2009). Working with campus marketing classes to improve reference service visibility. Marketing Library Services, 23(6). Retrieved from

Sometimes simple promotional tools work the best!

At Massey University Library we’ve been developing some online tutorials for students and as part of the project we are getting a few students to evaluate each one. We weren’t sure how easy it would be to interest students in taking part, but the lure of the $5 printing credit seems to have worked quite well. We put a notice up on the blackboard that we have outside the library, and the whiteboard we have up on level 2 where the information commons is. These proved really effective at recruiting students – even though it’s mid-semester break and there are fewer students around we got the 6 business students we needed in what was effectively less than a day. This was a way better result than we were expecting and gives us a bit of confidence that the evaluation process isn’t going to hold up the production of tutorials at all.

Whiteboard marketing also came into its own earlier in the week. I was scheduled to take a 5.15pm intro Endnote class on Wednesday night. There were no takers on Tuesday morning, but thanks to a message on the whiteboard I  had 11 people at the class in the end.



Gathering feedback from students

At Massey University Library we’ve been gathering student feedback in two areas recently. We’ve run a focus group to gather¬†comments about a knowledge management in research series run by one of my College Liaison colleagues – a¬†series¬†targeted at staff¬† and students. (I was planning to take the focus group but circumstances meant someone else stepped in and took it for me). I think my colleague has got some good pointers as to how he can revamp the sessions.

Secondly we’ve been asking for volunteers to test some online tutorials¬†that we are devising – these will be available to be loaded into the University’s Moodle offerings for specific papers. Students are asked to watch the¬†tutorial that has been prepared (usually about 4-5 minutes), and then work through an exercise to see what they picked up from the tutorial. We record what they do, and their comments as they work through the exercise. Their reward is chocolate ūüôā

Meanwhile Brian Mathews has also been gathering student comments on next-gen library catalogues.

No-one is claiming any of these qualitative research efforts are robust in terms of sampling  etc but they all help in gaining student perspectives!

Two interesting books to look out for

Spotted while visiting blogs recently¬† …

Marketing Today’s Academic Library by Brian Mathews, which promises that as its guiding principle the idea that marketing the academic library “should focus on the lifestyle of the user, showcasing how the library fits within the daily life of the student.”

And one revisiting that ongoing favourite obsession of our profession – how we come across to others –¬† You Don‚Äôt Look Like a Librarian Shattering Stereotypes and Creating Positive New Images in the Internet Age¬†by Ruth Neale.