Library Assessment Conference 2022: building effective | sustainable | practical assessment
Purpose and goals
This paper focuses on creative methods to gather employee and student opinions for use in a possible interior redesign of a 50-year-old academic main library, and to generate useful and shareable data for administrators and architects. The UNC Libraries Assessment Committee partnered with a campus research unit, the Social Research Lab (SRL), to create interactive and visually compelling ways to engage both employees and students, moving beyond the traditional questionnaire, to learn what features, design elements, and services are desired in a remodeled library. This partnership utilized a variety of hands-on activities for library employees and an online survey for students.
Design, methodology, or approach
Our approach was based on previous UNC Libraries space assessment projects and existing literature about working with architects and gathering student feedback for remodels. We also partnered with colleagues in SRL, who are experts in survey instrumentation and data analysis. These resources were invaluable for determining the best approaches for soliciting feedback in a fun, creative, and engaging way.
The first method focused solely on library employees. During a monthly all staff meeting, employees had four activities to help reimagine the building’s interior: draw or mark up blank floorplans; place comments or stickers on printed images of public and staff spaces to express likes and dislikes; write their top three priorities on a form; and comment anonymously through an online form. Employees were encouraged but not required to participate, and their responses were anonymous. Three months after this meeting, we deployed an online survey to collect student feedback. The survey ran for two weeks and asked students to rank images, comment on their selected images, and upload other images they would like to see included in a newly designed space. The Assessment Committee distributed the survey via signs and posters throughout campus, sharing with classes and groups, and tabling at the dining hall during lunch hours. As an incentive, students could enter a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card.
Nearly 500 students responded to the survey. Based on guidance from SRL, we had set a goal of 100 student responses; therefore, based on these high participation numbers, we think the interactive and visual approaches worked for persuading students to complete the survey and demonstrates the importance of the building to students. Preliminary results show that students want more private study spaces and seating, and offer insights into popular (and unpopular) design elements.
Practical implications or value
This work provides useful examples and information for gathering employee and student data about space redesign, working with an on-campus research entity, and sharing information with an architect. By the conference date, we will have solid conclusions from the survey and will be able to address the types of information useful for an architect and which data was used for architectural renderings.
Blodgett, Jayne; Floersch, Natasha; and Epperson, Annie, "Re/envision, Re/imagine: Student and Employee Assessment for a Library Space Redesign" (2022). University Libraries Faculty Publications and Presentations. 145.