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E. H. Butler Library, Buffalo State, The State University of New York

LibQUAL+® at Butler Library

Assessment at E. H. Butler Library


In Fall 2015, E. H. Butler Library engaged in its fifth administration of the nationally normed LibQUAL+ survey. LibQUAL+ is a 22-core-item “total market” survey instrument designed to assess academic library service quality from the point of view of the library user, and it is the primary assessment tool administered every three years by the library to all students, faculty, and staff at Buffalo State. The survey is comprised of three subdimensions: Affect of Service, Information Organization, and Library as Place. More information about LibQUAL+ can be obtained by going to their site.

Based on the totality of respondents (students, faculty, and staff), the average score for overall library service satisfaction was 7.2 out of a total possible score of 9, which is up slightly from 7.0 in 2012.

Undergraduate students continue to be pleased with the library and its services, having rated the library 7.23 in 2015 as compared to 7.01 in 2012. Undergraduate students see the Information Commons and/or library as a necessity for their learning, study, and research. With a multitude of information, technological, cultural, and recreational services and activities, they may view the Information Commons as a place to “get away” and relax and/or a place to be nurtured when they need assistance. Hands down, undergraduate students commented on the library needing more computers, and the library has strengthened its equipment loan service to offering a variety of computing devices. Some comments indicate noise is a continued issue. With dramatically increased gate counts and building usage, the library is taking steps to better market its designated quiet spaces and group study rooms. Another common comment was the need for more electrical outlets for recharging mobile and computing devices. The planned Academic Commons will result in portions of the library being remodeled and some campus services merged into the building, which will help address many of the issues noted above and further below.

Graduate student satisfaction remained relatively unchanged between 2012 (6.59) and 2015 (6.52). The library continues to support the ongoing development of the Graduate Commons while offering graduate students the opportunity to meet one-on-one with librarians for information and research consultations, especially in regards to their master's theses and projects. Furthermore, the Digital Commons houses a robust, heavily-accessed collection of completed theses and projects for graduate students to peruse during their own research endeavors.

For faculty, overall library service satisfaction also remained relatively unchanged between 2012 (7.28) and 2015 (7.37), yet they rated the library highest of all as compared to students. Faculty appreciate assistance with technology issues and with their own personal research, and they rated library service (Affect of Service category) the highest of any group for any category – 7.7 out of 9 – indicating a high degree of satisfaction with direct service from library faculty and library support staff. Some scores and comments suggest continued difficulty with the library’s web page, so the library engaged in a second usability study to help revise the library web page and evaluate its usability.

Patrons also provided 206 total comments, which were analyzed qualitatively. Using a grounded theory approach, qualitative data was coded into 332 distinct subcomponents and sorted first by tone (+ = positive, - = negative, or r = recommendation), then by LibQUAL category, then by Issue Category, and finally by Issue Subcategory. Here are the top issues for each category stemming from the qualitative analysis:

“Library as Place” (Space)

  1. Patrons want more computers.
  2. Patrons find the “Quiet Quad” to be noisy. Noise levels in the library can be elevated at times.
  3. Patrons want more electrical outlets to power mobile devices.
  4. Patrons want clean, comfortable furniture and learning spaces.
  5. Patrons want a variety of study spaces. Some want more group study rooms, while others want more individual study spaces.
  6. Patrons want stable wi-fi.

Other space issues include:

  1. Inconsistent temperature throughout the library.
  2. Continue to improve upon Graduate Commons/space for graduate students.
  3. Usage/traffic congestion during busy times, especially Bengal Pause (Tu/Th 12:15-1:30 p.m.).

Information Organization

  1. Patrons want better finding aids to improve their ability to navigate independently through the library.
  2. Patrons want an improved library website.
  3. Patrons want improved reliability with article retrieval, databases, and electronic resources.
  4. Although some patrons want more print materials, most patrons want increased access to electronic resources.
  5. Patrons have indicated some materials are outdated, implying the collection should be weeded.

Affect of Service (Service)

  1. Patrons want improved circulation services, including: a) online/automated renewals, b) digital receipts, c) renewal reminders, and d) improvements to the interlibrary loan process.
  2. Patrons want increased options for the equipment loan program, perhaps including non-traditional items.
  3. Patrons claim they are unaware of some library services, which might indicate a need for improvements in marketing and outreach.
  4. Patrons note inconsistent printing reliability within the library.
  5. Patrons would like increased hours of operation.


The library recently revised its mission statement in Spring 2017 and is currently developing a new strategic plan to prioritize responses to some of these findings while simultaneously aligning to campus strategic directives as well. The plan and its goals will be shared upon completion.


Patron-Centered, Data-Driven Decision Making

Since its first LibQUAL+ survey in 2003, E. H. Butler Library has used these survey results to make numerous changes to service, collections, building space, and virtual space. Here are some brief examples:

Information Commons:

Brings together important services, such as assistance with research, computing, and writing, to help students successfully complete academic projects.

Website Redesign:

Design of homepage more aligned with user expectations, including discoverability; reduction in static pages; dynamically generated and database-driven; RWD (Responsive Web Design) more friendly for multitudes of mobile devices.


Transitioned to discoverability service to match more closely with standard users' search skills ("single search box").

Study Spaces:

Acknowledged need/appreciation for flexible individual and group study spaces; addition of four group study spaces (users able to reserve independently via homepage); addition of flexible furniture in places formerly holding print collections.

Electronic Collections - ebooks:

Major shift toward ebooks, including ebrary database and others; helps support distance learning efforts and web-based access to research.

BUTL 314 Redesign:

Collaboration with Instructional Resources to redesign library's primary teaching space -- first of its kind on campus!!; its success sparked faculty interest in alternative pedagogies and instructional strategies; also facilitated the redesign of BUTL 316 into a generally scheduled classroom.

Digital Commons:

Institutional repository for research and scholarly output; substantial increase in usage of digital Masters theses & projects.

Graduate Commons:

Designated space for graduate students overlooking Argo Tea


Subject guides for students within specific academic disciplines.


Web-based citation management system.

Argo Tea:

Offers signature loose teas and blends from around the world, teaware, and other specialty foods and beverages; transformed the accompanying space, including elements such as an appealing color scheme, stylish, comfortable seating, and tables with electrical outlets and USB charging ports.

Equipment Loan:
Students able to check out various technologies, including edTPA kits.

Mobile Printing:
Send print jobs to the library anytime from any mobile device.

Eugene J. Harvey
Assessment & Reference Librarian
E. H. Butler Library

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E. H. Butler Library, SUNY Buffalo State
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