Learners' demands and expectations for space in a University Library : outcomes from a survey at Loughborough University

2008-02-20T13:29:29Z (GMT) by Graham Walton
In this era of e-learning, open-learning and distance learning in the electronic environment, it is interesting to note that library physical space is being given much consideration and thought in higher education institutions. If space is to be provided in an appropriate and welcoming manner, then it is imperative to develop a better understanding of learners’ expectations and needs. In order to provide this intelligence, a major user survey was undertaken at Loughborough University Library in March 2006 of learners’ perceptions of library space. Different kinds of space are provided in the Loughborough University Library, including large group study areas, group study rooms, individual carrels, silence subject floors and personal computer suites. Aspects explored in the survey were how often different library spaces were used as well as the important factors identified when choosing specific space. A further focus was to identify the reasons why library space was used (as well as not used). Further examinations took place of learners’ perceptions of the different space categories. This paper presents the outcomes of the survey (which benefited from over 400 responses). The survey has provided invaluable insight into such issues as noisy versus quiet learning, nature of personal computer access in libraries, importance levels of different factors (such as physical environment and access to library staff) and the role of print (books and journals) in library space. The paper concludes by describing how the survey results have influenced Loughborough University Library future space use. The wider implications for the sector will also be described.