Our thanks go to 12 students, a mix of grads and undergrads, who participated in our Virtual Focus Group about library space. During the 10 days of activity we received 94 different comments concerning the size, usability and comfort our group study, quiet study, media, and other locations.
The Virtual Focus Group, still somewhat experimental, is a process which uses internet based blog software to emulate an in-person focus group discussion (but with everyone getting a chance to “talk” without that interrupting big mouth at the table who seems to be part of every in-person focus group).
The focus groups were designed several weeks ago and were implemented at about the same time at each of the five regional campuses. A few days after the Greater Campus effort began, we received a surprise announcement that plans were underway to move the campus to downtown Hartford. This made the collection of library space information more pressing because, almost immediately following the announcement, our gears shifted from attention to improving our present facility to designing a new one from the ground up, a daunting task to say the least.
Responses Summary (By Question):
What is your favorite place to study by yourself in the library? The glass-wall Quiet Study Room has a large number of fans who tout not only its quiet but also that it tends to draw others who like and respect the quiet atmosphere. A number of respondents wanted to see more computers in the Quiet Study Room.
When you study with a friend do you choose a different space to study than when you are by yourself? This depends on the kind of studying being done. Quiet study people gravitate to that dedicated space. Students working with others like the group study rooms which often are reasonably quiet even with groups in them.
If you are in a group project, where does your group choose to work in the library? The large and small Group Study Rooms, the Social Work History Room, and the individual study rooms all have fans who generally praise them. Some use each of these spaces depending on what kind of project they are working on. Several comments criticized the claustrophobic nature of the smaller, individual rooms and the lack of chairs/tables in the Small Group Study Room.
Do you like to visit the library to socialize with others? Most respondents were firm that they generally do not socialize in the library and that they wish others would not socialize also. Quiet is valued very highly. The campus cafeteria was mentioned as the proper place to socialize.
Do you have any comments/suggestions about library spaces? Popular comments were for more computers and more electrical outlets.
The following were among desired items: A Husky Bucks machine; cleaner tables especially in the group study rooms; regularly updated computer software; DVDs and media which are more visible; and more instructions in the Media Room.
Sample Comments Included:
“I like to study in the Quiet Study area when it’s for a midterm or final but I like working in the group study area mainly because there are more people to study with and the chairs are comfortable. It would be better if there were more computers.”
“I like the individual study rooms but I’m a bit claustrophobic and they are kind of small. I like the rooms because it is quiet and I can actually get work done. If they were bigger that would be more helpful because then I can spread my work out. The rooms should be big enough for one person but small enough where it isn’t a group study room.”
“The group study rooms upstairs are ideal for studying with a friend because students are allowed to talk and the noise volume isn’t overwhelming.”
Socializing is an “absolutely inappropriate use of the library. If you want to socialize, go to the undergrad building. Real students have work to do, and don’t need you being obnoxious.”
I “used to meet up with a friend in the room to the left on the second floor. Also meet with my English teacher for peer editing sessions in the private rooms off of that room.”
“I want beanie chairs so I can comfortably relax and read!!!!”
The information gathered via the Virtual Focus Group is already being put to use in initial planning for the new campus library. In particular, based on focus group results and other source materials, attention is being placed on the number and variety of learning/study spaces as we consider square footage allocations.
Down the road, we hope to be able to provide other opportunities for the voices of our clientele to be heard as we consider the best ways to meet your personal and academic needs.
— William Uricchio, Library Director