Friday, May 13, 2005

curiosity pays

Before the semester ends I'm trying to wrap up a report on what we've learned this year from our students. Why? So that we can help our students learn.

Each year we do a few things designed to give us some insights into how the library works for students (or doesn't). As all academic departments here do, we have an assessment plan to remind us where we are in the process. Though its important to know what resources we have and how much they get used - and how those things stack up to comparison colleges, we also want to find out whether all those resources and services actually contribute something.

This year we've heard some very interesting things from first years students, interviewed in a focus group by fellow students. (Thank you, Laura and Paul!) The students made lots of good suggestions and underscored the importance of the library as a place (and that we should have couches as comfortable as the ones in Confer Hall!). We also are looking at surveys we distrbuted a couple of weeks after teaching our library sessions. What did students appreciate learning about? RefWorks, a citation management system. The thing that's most confusing? How the books are shelved and how to find a journal article that's in print, not online.

What I love about doing this is having the opportunity to rethink the library from a fresh perspective - the one that counts the most in an undergraduate library. And besides, I'm just nosey.


1 comment:

Alec said...

Barbara, I see that the Gustavus library's assessment plan is mentioned in the latest issue of C&RL News (pg. 364)! (William N. Nelson and Robert W. Fernekes, "Who uses ACRL standards? Gauging the use of 'Standards for libraries in higher education,'" C&RL News 66(5) (May 2005): 356-364). It's great to hear that the NCA reviewers thought so highly of the library's assessment plan.