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Release: Sept. 13, 1999

UI Libraries announces students' suggestions for improvements

IOWA CITY–University of Iowa graduate and professional students want the Libraries' facilities refurbished and remodeled; staffing levels increased; increased library instruction, improved range of access to its collections; and library resources more greatly publicized. The recommendations were gathered in a recently completed survey that complements a 1998 survey of undergraduates who suggested the Libraries improve signage and customer service.

In response to the students' earlier recommendations, the Libraries has taken steps to improve services, such as customer service training; referrals; made additional services available on the Web; and has improved resource delivery with better physical and electronic access to library materials. Other previously taken steps to improve the physical facility include refurbishing sections of the Main Library through funding from the UI administration.

Work is also under way to replace OASIS, the Libraries' text-based electronic catalog, with a user-friendly Web-based system scheduled for operation in fall 2000.

Overall, the two student groups expressed a general satisfaction with the library system, particularly on-site services. A faculty and staff survey will be conducted in the 1999-00 academic year.

Last July UI Student Government leaders toured the Main Library to assess its services and facilities. At that time student leaders proposed improvements similar to the latest student recommendations.

Barbara Dewey, director, Information and Research Services, says the Libraries' User Needs Assessment Project is a three-step plan to assess library user satisfaction with current information services and resources; help identify library-wide user services and resource needs; and increase dialogue and involvement with library users.

"The results of the surveys are proving invaluable for planning improvements and also underscore the need to better publicize existing services and resources which address some of the needs expressed by students," Dewey says. Dewey further indicated the Libraries' plan to work closely with undergraduate and graduate student leaders on these improvements.

UI Libraries staff worked with the Office of the Registrar and campus statisticians to draw a statistically significant random stratified sample. The undergraduate sample was drawn by class standing and college; the graduate and professional student survey was drawn by college delineation and by special enrollment within the Graduate College.

Surveys were prepared with input from focus groups regarding survey content, design, implementation strategies, and data analysis. Two consecutive mailings for each study resulted in a 39.5 percent response rate for the Undergraduate Study; and a 44 percent response rate for the Graduate and Professional Student Study.

Complete results of the undergraduate and graduate surveys may be found at For additional information contact Barbara I. Dewey, Information and Research Services, 319-335-5871 or