Library Feedback Board

Abstract

Amherst College renovated our library feedback board from a locked-box, opaque model to a transparent community board, integrating users’ feedback into a regular assessment and planning cycle.

Goal/Question

The previous feedback board received relatively few comments, and no system was in place for reviewing feedback or reporting relevant feedback to department heads.

We redesigned the board to an open model with customized post-it notes and developed a structure for categorizing comments as well as a semiannual review with department heads. We hoped to increase participation and facilitate Library responsiveness to user needs.

In addition to the physical board, we developed a virtual feedback option featured on our website, and posted previous comments with our responses for increased transparency.

Methods

  • Reviewed past comments and developed categorization structure for comments
  • Developed documentation to guide reporting comments to relevant departments
  • Set up distribution cycle of shared comments recording sheet to department heads through the Assessment Group
  • Reviewed board structure and wording with Student Library Advisory Board
  • Restructured and piloted board, adjusting design based on student feedback

Outcome

Results

The increase in board traffic was dramatic. Over the past 6.5 years of the “locked box” model, the board had 335 comments total. Within the first year of the open board (Jan 20 2017 — Dec  5 2017), the board already had 200 comments.

The virtual iteration had far lower participation, which may be due to lack of visibility on the website.

bar chart showing percentages by comment category

The majority of comments related to the physical building, with issues such as bathrooms, temperature, and water filters leading the concerns. The Cafe was also a popular topic, with requests for additional offerings and extended hours.

Study space topics included furniture, noise levels, and study rooms, and Services related to food requests, extended hours requests, and free printing.

The UX Librarian and Outreach Librarian have been in frequent contact with the Library Space Committee regarding furniture needs, resulting in the addition of standing desks and other requested furniture.

The Assessment Group chair has also begun the annual distribution of the shared comments sheet, with the ability to filter by category.

Recommendation

We plan to share these results more widely with all Library staff, to increase awareness of user priorities for our spaces and services. There is also the opportunity to post targeted questions, to solicit user feedback and inform specific projects.

The work involved in reviewing and responding to comments should also be examined, to determine if there are more efficient workflows.

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