Student feedback on library services

Some quick notes from a discussion this morning with 15 Stanford Sophomores in a class on New Technologies of Identity: Web 2.0 and the Rhetoric of Digital Cultures

General use of Web 2.0 tools:

  • Most had heard of Twitter, Flickr, Delicious, and Second Life BUT none of them use them
  • Only 2 students read any blogs, and same 2 are the only ones who use RSS feeds
  • All of them are on Facebook, use it regularly

Library services:

  • Unanimous preference for in-person help from librarian (over email, IM, phone, texting).
  • Several students said their 2nd choice for getting help was to “search the library website myself”
  • Most start library research at Library homepage, but when I showed them the Information Center site, they ALL preferred IC site over Library homepage (cleaner look, easier to get to main stuff).
  • Anonymity is very important, therefore would not use a TXT a librarian service.  OK with using Stanford email to contact a librarian, but don’t want to Text a librarian from their own cell phone – too personal.
  • When they email a librarian at 3am, they want to know when they can expect an answer.

Searchworks (prototype discovery environment) vs. Socrates (current catalog):

  • Unanimous preference for look and feel of Searchworks over Socrates
  • Loved the ability to limit search results by facets – esp’ly for Video
  • Loved the Cite This feature (none of them use EndNote or Refworks, so ability to cut & paste citation is all they need)
  • Liked the Text Citation feature
  • Like book covers bcuz helps them find book on shelf
  • Like Relevance sorting, want Publication Date sorting
  • Liked Preview this feature
  • Liked easy link to e-books

A main theme that came up was students’ desire to maintain some separation between the social and the academic parts of their lives.  They want personal interaction with librarians (and faculty), but under their terms, and through the channels they initiate.  They are OK with being a Fan of a library Facebook page, but don’t want to friend a librarian on Facebook.

2 Responses to “Student feedback on library services”

  1. 1 Chris January 22, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Thanks — I figured there must be a technical way to provide anonymity. I still wonder if the lack of enthusiasm for texting a librarian was all about anonymity; or if it was also about a sense that texting is something social, to be done between friends. Having a librarian text you would just be weird. Would love to see stats on usage from any academic library that has implemented a text a librarian service.


  2. 2 Andrew Houghton January 22, 2009 at 6:28 am

    “Anonymity is very important, therefore would not use a TXT a librarian service”, a simple fix have the University provide an annonymous text to service. Student registers their cell phone with their University profile, service accepts only registered University profile cell phone numbers, then forwards the e-mail to the library service and possible adds the text to the Student’s e-mail inbox so they also have a record. Library service responds to the e-mail which the service responds back to the cell phone with a text and possible adds the library service response to the Student’s e-mail inbox. This is just an infrastructure and gateway issue.


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