Preliminary findings from the Library survey 2004

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1. Background

In the week of 22-28 March 2004 (Week 7 of Semester 2 and 2 weeks before the Easter break) people using the Frewen Library were invited to take part in a short survey. In order to obtain as broad a range of views as possible, the same survey was made available on the Library Website and given out in teaching sessions within the Library in weeks leading up to the survey week. In the week of 22-28 March the survey was also carried out in a variety of catering outlets around the University: Anglesea, Milldam, Park Building Basement, Portland and the Students' Union.

Students were recruited to administer the survey, although there was also an option for people to take away a sheet and return it later. Responses were gathered between 9am and midnight, Monday to Sunday. Most of the time just 1 student was on duty but between 11.30am and 3.30pm, Monday to Friday there were 2 students on duty as these were identified as busy periods. Students were on duty in locations outside the Library from 11.45am to 2.15pm, Monday to Friday.

The aims of the survey were to

A combination of Likert scales and opportunity for free comments were used on the form. A copy of the survey form is at the end of the report.

2. Number of responses

Forms Gathered Outside the Library 755
Forms Gathered Outside the Library 985
Forms From Teaching Sessions in the Library 230
Responses to the Web Version of the Survey 165
Total Responses Obtained 2135

The total figure comprised 91% students, 7% staff, and 1% non-Portsmouth University (1% of forms contained no clear information on category). 89% of replies were from full-time students/staff and 7% from part-time students/staff.

3. Opinions Regarding the Summer 2003 Library Refurbishment

Asked whether the summer refurbishment had improved the Library 27% of respondents said that it had, whilst 36% said no, it hadn't. The remaining 37% of replies gave no answer as they had not been at the University before the refurbishment took place.

When respondents were then asked to specify what - if anything - they didn't like about the refurbishment, the most common answer was that they hadn't noticed anything had been done (9.5%) e.g. "To be perfectly honest, I couldn't recognise any changes as study areas are as tatty as before". Complaints about the colour scheme used ("the horrible colours") were the next most frequent at 2%, followed by complaints about problems with the lighting (1%) e.g."the lights that make a noise!!!" and complaints about the disruption caused during prime research time (0.6%) e.g. "The disruption over the summer was terrible for me as a research active member of staff and I simply can't see what the point of it was?". It should be noted that the contractors have now fixed the problems with lights making beeping noises.

4. Priorities for the Library Extension

In order to inform planning for the Library extension which is due to open in Summer 2006, a major aim of this survey was to seek the views of students and staff about what should be included. The survey form listed 14 facilities/services which might be possible in an extended building and respondents were asked to rank each of these in importance using a scale of 1 (not at all important) to 5 (very important). There was also the opportunity to list and rank a 15th item which respondents could specify themselves.

The following table shows the 14 items ranked according to the number of respondents giving that item a priority of either 4 or 5.

Position in Ranking Service/Facility No. of Respondents Indicating Priority of 4 or 5 (Very Important) % of all replies
1 More PCs 1624 76%
2 Silent study areas 1517 71%
3 More desks 1471 69%
4 24 hour access to PCs 1417 66%
5 24 hour access to whole Library 1389 65%
6 More space for books 1320 62%
7 Better reprographics service 1315 61.5%
8 Walk-in short loan collection 1272 60%
9 Group study rooms 1193 56%
10 Room for watching videos/DVDs as a group 1062 50%
11 More loanable laptops 943 44%
12 Wider aisles between the shelves 847 40%
13 Cybercafé 769 36%
14 Lockers 742 35%

5. Major Likes and Dislikes Regarding the Library

Respondents were also asked to list up to 3 things which they liked about the Library and 3 things which would improve the Library for them. Free comments such as these are invaluable for the Library when planning for the future. The following tables show the top 10 issues which emerged.

Position in ranking Good feature No. of mentions Percentage Sample comments
1 Staff helpful/friendly 466 21.8% "Excellent staff - always helpful and knowledgeable""friendly and efficient staff"
2 Range of books available 345 16% "the great choice of books" "wide source of contemporary and older titles to browse"
3 Long opening hours 213 10% "Being open up to midnight during term time" "weekend opening"
4 Peace and quiet 210 9.8% "quiet areas upstairs" "quiet journal rooms"
5 Good PC access 124 5.8% "lots of PCs" "computer facilities good"
6 Location 106 5% "central location" "near to Union"
7 Atmosphere 102 4.8% "good place to work" "friendly working environment" "relaxed atmosphere"
8 Well organised 101 4.7% "Very well set out" "Good layout" "easy to find your way around"
9 Journal collection 93 4.3% "good run of old journals" "large journal collection"
10 = Coffee shop 59 2.7% "good coffee shop" "the canteen is conveniently close"
10 = Free Internet access 59 2.7% "chance to use Internet"


Position in ranking Issue of concern No. of mentions Percentage Sample comments etc
1 More books 542 25% "not enough core texts for course work" "more copies of the 'hot' books" "some of the books are too old"
2 More computers 362 17% "improve crowding around computers" "more PCs with more workspace around them"
3 Longer opening hours/24 hour access 161 7.5% "should be open 24 hours with all services and facilities"
4 Silent study areas 148 7% "more rigorous insistence on silence in Library" "more discipline for noisy people" "people chat too much"
5 Improve the coffee shop 134 6.3% "coffee shop should be bigger" "better café with proper food"
6 More study spaces 129 6% "much more space for study" "wider selection of study areas"
7 Group study rooms 100 4.7% "group areas would reduce talking in quiet areas"
8 Improve the toilets 74 3.5% "toilets smell very bad"
9 More journals 66 3.1% "a wider selection of journals that are actually relevant to the courses taught at the university"
10 Issue Desk should be open longer 52 2.4% Requests to open the Issue Desk earlier in the mornings and for longer at weekends


Detailed comments from the Library Survey 2004

Usage patterns of respondents:


Positive - 466

(A further 18 respondents wanted more staff)

Negative - 19

(+ 3 about security staff/attendants + 5 wanting better IT staff)


Positive - 345

Negative - 542

Noise levels

Positive - 210

Negative - 148


Positive - 102

Coffee shop

Negative - 134

(+ 27 wanting longer opening)

Issues raised which don't appear in the top ten lists



Improvements needed

Services and Resources


Improvements needed



Improvements needed

Building Issues


Improvements needed

Anne Worden