One simple way to guarantee your feedback about the library is heard

Library Director, Sarah Smith, joins the blog today to share information about how the library staff responds to student feedback.

As the director of the Thigpen Library, I am always seeking ways to improve services and resources provided to Vol State students. So, I get really excited when students contribute their suggestions for the library, whether it’s through one of the library’s Tip Jars (located downstairs at the Reference Desk and upstairs at the Circulation Desk), verbally to a staff member, or in response to our informal surveys.

One of the two tip jars in the library. Photo credit: Librarian Mike Hitzelberger
One of the two tip jars in the library.
Photo credit: Librarian Mike Hitzelberger

I’m very excited to report that the library actively responds to student suggestions. For instance, one student commented about the need for computer station sanitation to prevent the spread of disease. Voilà! Students now have easy access to disinfecting wipes placed throughout the computer lab area so that they can sanitize their computer station before use.

We also respond to students’ need via observation. For example, we noticed that many students wanted to use the large reading tables for study, but also needed access to an outlet to charge their laptops at those tables. The library came up with what students have called a “genius” solution – attaching outlets (including USB charging ports) to the tables.

A group of students using the charging station while they study
A group of students using the charging station while they study

A request that has been received from a few of our students is for the library to stay open 24/7. Good news: we already are! The library’s online collections can be accessed by any Vol State student, staff, or faculty member 24/7, and these include millions of full text articles and more than 200,000 online books and videos. Additionally, our LibGuides provide instruction on the use of the library’s resources so that students can get the help they need to use library resources at any time.

As far as the physical building remaining open 24/7, there are many reasons why the idea is not feasible. I’ll name a few of the main reasons for not staying open for any 24 hour period on a regular basis: non-residential campus, security concerns, huge costs (at a minimum guess, $150,000 extra) to hire staff, and the Gallatin Campus itself officially closes at 11 pm. Perhaps the best evidence for not staying open 24/7 is the lack of demonstrated need for those hours: during our extended hours near exam times there are never more than a handful of people using the library between 10-11 pm; unfortunately, there are only a handful of students here at closing each night during our regular hours, too. I know that there will be a few students who will remain unsatisfied with this response and so I encourage these students to speak with me directly.

Sarah can be reached at 615-230-3412 or at Sarah.Smith@volstate.edu. 

Librarian Brigade

You’ve seen them wandering around the computer lab, stepping into the silent study room, and walking down the aisles between the bookshelves. Who are they? They’re the Librarian Brigade!

(Okay, maybe that’s not really what we’re called but wouldn’t that be a good name for a gang of librarian superheroes?!?)

We actually call this service Roving Reference. The idea behind it is to make sure that we are providing the best possible service to everyone in the library. We also want to make sure that the library is a comfortable and inviting place where you can get work done.

Why do we rove? Well, without getting too librarian nerdy on you, I’ll give a couple of reasons. First, we want to remove any barriers between us and any library users. Some library users are a little reluctant to ask for help (not you, of course, since you’re reading our fantastic library blog!). They think they may be interrupting us or bothering us, or they may just feel a little shy about asking someone a question. It can be a little intimidating to go up to a stranger and ask them questions about things you feel like you should know how to do. By leaving the desk and going to where the users are, we meet them in their space and remove some of that intimidation factor.

Another reason for roving is to help make sure that the library remains a great place to study and get work done. We have different noise level zones in the building, so when we rove, we make sure that the silent study room is actually silent and that any groups in the yellow zone on the second floor aren’t getting too excited about what they’re studying and disturbing others. Plus, if we find that a group of people is being a little noisier than they should be, we can direct them to a study room or give them a “gentle reminder” to be respectful to others.

A third reason for roving is to help anyone lost in the bookshelves. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost on the way to finding a resource, especially if you’re not familiar with the way items are shelved here at Thigpen. If a roving librarian sees someone who looks like he needs a little help, then we can step in and help her find what he’s looking for.

Finally, it also gives the librarians a little exercise, which never hurts anyone who sits at a computer for a good part of the workday!

So, the next time you see a librarian wandering around, you will know what she is doing.  And, if you ever think of a better name for our librarian superhero gang, leave us a comment here!

Database Trial Alert: Statista

The Thigpen Library has a trial subscription from now until mid-February to a database called Statista. To access it, just go to statista.com, and you should see a message at the top left of the page that shows you are accessing it through Volunteer State Community College. If you are off-campus, you will first be prompted to log in with your Vol State username and password before gaining access.

So what kind of information does Statista contain? Statista offers access to over 1 million statistics and over 1,000 industry reports. The statistics range in topic from serious content, like the change of price in gasoline in certain countries over a one year period to more fun information, like the average annual household spending on video games. It is the world’s largest statistics portal, so chances are, if you do not find what you need here, then you may have a tough time finding it anywhere!

Statista also offers Infographics, like the one below, that are frequently updated and used by companies such as CNN, ESPN, and Mashable.

Infographic: The Top 10 Winter Box Office Record Breakers | Statista
One of the many infographics that Statista offers

The resources in Statista can be useful for a wide range of subject areas, including all of the academic divisions at Vol State! All of the content can be exported and embedded into papers, reports, PowerPoint or Google presentations, blog postings, and websites. Statista also has a feature that will help users cite their statistics in four different citation styles.

Still have questions about how to use Statista? Watch the video at the top of the post and learn more tips and tricks!

If you would like to know more about how to best use Statista, or you have feedback about it for the library, please contact Amber McKee at 615-230-3406 or by email.