IALS Library Reader Satisfaction Survey

2019 - You said, we did: summary results and response

In order to find out how satisfied readers are with the IALS Library’s collections and information services and to help us continue to improve the Library, a survey of library users was carried out between Monday 25th February and Sunday 3rd March 2019. The survey asked 20 questions.

Highlights in brief

  • The top rating was again for helpfulness of library staff at 98.2% (up 0.2% on the 2018 rating).
  • The overall satisfaction rate remained virtually the same at 95.5% (96% in 2018).
  • This year we had EIGHT satisfaction ratings above 90% which were for our research skills public training sessions at 97%, range of print journals at 95.4%, range of electronic journals and databases at 93.5%, study facilities at 92.6%, ease of use of the library catalogue at 92.5% and range of books at 91.9% (as well as for helpfulness of library staff and for overall satisfaction). In 2018 we only received five satisfaction ratings above 90%.
  • We had NINE satisfaction ratings above 80%. These included opening times at 89%, closing times at 88.1%, availability of PCs at 86.7%, quality of computing facilities at 83%, availability of photocopiers at 82.9%, availability of printers at 82.5%, ease of access to e-resources at 81.9%, sufficient copies of LLM textbooks at 81.7%, and study environment – noise at 80.6%.
  • Some positive comments made a number of times:
    • Friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff (x 22)
    • The best place  to get work done, such a comfortable study environment (x 20)
    • Huge range of books and journals, so I am never limited in my research (x 16)
    • I found everything I needed quickly and easily (x 7)
    • IALS is my favourite library (x 5)

Library actions: you said, we did

  • Current IALS Transformation Project will solve building-related issues
    The survey contained a number of comments about the deteriorating fabric of the building and the need for a refurbished library. In particular there was a low satisfaction rating (at 79.9%)  and some complaints about overheating in the reading rooms. There were also complaints about the lack of seating on occasion, the current Wi-Fi system, the noise from the busy roads outside, the need for new desks and chairs and the need for a new group study room for discussion and debate. The IALS Library Management Team have been aware of these building-related issues for some time and brought them to the attention of the University of London. In early 2018 the University’s Board of Trustees agreed to invest £11.5 million to fund a major refurbishment of the IALS building and library.

    Major improvements to IALS Library:
    The IALS Transformation Project will replace the services infrastructure of the whole building with new heating, cooling and Wi-Fi. In addition the Library will be completely refurbished and re-designed. There will be a new library entrance on the 2nd floor into an area looking out over Russell Square, 50 additional study desks to increase capacity, two bookable group study rooms, a new group training room with increased capacity, a reference advice room for one-to-one training, a fully-equipped special needs room, private library research carrels re-designed and increased by 8 to a total of 38, new modern desk and chair furniture, more control over reading room heating and cooling, secondary glazing to reduce the impact of outside traffic noise, more self-issue laptops and improved IT services.

    Continuity of library services:
    Throughout the IALS Transformation Project the building, seminar rooms, lecture theatre and main reading rooms of the Library will continue to remain open.  All the library collections will remain on-site and e-resources will continue to be available.  Research skills training sessions will continue to be offered and law library staff will continue to be available on-site for research assistance and consultation.  There will be temporary arrangements for entry to the Library directly into the reading rooms and for the issue & enquiry desk to be located in the reading rooms. Arrangements have been agreed with the contractors to minimise the amount of noise after 10.00am each day.

    Current schedule of refurbishment work:
    The IALS Transformation Project started as planned in June 2018 and is currently on time and on budget. By January 2019 the contractor had successfully completed the refurbishment of the Library 4th floor reading room. It is now planned for the Library 3rd floor reading room to be refurbished by June 2019, for the new Library 2nd floor entrance to be completed by October 2019, and for the academic, research and administrative offices on the 5th floor to be completed by March 2020. Necessary improvements to the building’s ageing plant equipment and services infrastructure are being undertaken in parallel.

  • Noise in reading rooms
    We were disappointed to see the satisfaction rating for study environment – quietness dip to 80.6%. The comments section of the survey explain this lower rating as being an unfortunate but necessary by-product of the ongoing IALS Transformation Project. Whilst we agreed with the contractors that noisy work must be carried out before 10.00am each day to minimise noise in the reading rooms, it is impossible with building work to avoid some slight disturbance which we understand can be irritating to some readers. Additionally, the temporary location of the Issue & Enquiry Desk within the formerly silent reading rooms and the fact that the temporary library entrance opens directly into the reading rooms from the lift lobby have both created unavoidable noise issues. As it is not possible to operate a silent issue and enquiry service and as the admissions desk receives a number of phone calls throughout the day, maintaining complete silence within the library reading rooms during the IALS Transformation Project has become challenging. In addition, students having conversations at normal levels arriving in the main lifts, or popping just outside of the library entrance to take phone calls, are perhaps unaware of just how far their voices carry into the library. Additionally the new toilets within the 4th floor reading room currently have new loud hand-dryers installed which have been disturbing some students (this issue has already been raised with our Premises Manager and quieter options are being sourced). In spite of this lower satisfaction rating, it is interesting to note from the comments section of the survey that there were still eight positive comments about how IALS is a quiet place to study. Of the people complaining about noise, five comments were directly about the construction work, one was about the traffic noise from outside, three were about noisy hand dryers / closing bell, and three were about staff / enquiry desk noise. It is hoped that all of these issues will be resolved once the IALS Transformation Project is completed. Finally we should point out that the project has paid for free earplugs to be available for all readers at the library entrance. 

  • Book suggestions
    The individual suggestions about improving areas of our research collections have been passed to Liz Murray, Information Resources Manager, who will act on them.

  • Improved library catalogue
    A project already in progress will help us to address the comments about ease of use of the library catalogue. We are working to introduce a new discovery platform which will improve access to our many electronic resources and enable article level searching from our e-resources subscriptions.

  • Opening times
    A further investment in library opening hours two years ago helped us to achieve an improved satisfaction rating for our closing times this year. For most of the year we are open seven days a week. From October to June we are open from 9.00am to 11.00pm, Monday to Friday; 10.00am to 8.30pm on Saturdays; and 12.30pm to 8.30pm on Sundays. These extended opening hours are longer than any other library within the central University. We had five adverse comments this year about our later opening time on Sundays. Although this type of comment has been in decline in recent years, we will continue to monitor the opening time rating closely.

  • Eating and drinking in the library
    A few people wanted expanded public facilities for eating and drinking at IALS. Two comments specifically asked for somewhere to be able to prepare and consume hot food and drinks (three such comments last year). It may be possible in the future to consider extending the Café Lex opening hours or provide a hot drinks machine again for out-of-hours use in the short term. Hopefully, once we have been refurbished, there will be a wider variety of spaces in the building for students to consume coffee and have a meaningful break from studying. 

  • Cost of printing
    The lowest satisfaction rating of 62.9% was for the cost of public photocopying/printing/scanning. However on investigation it was found that the IALS charge of 5p per A4 copied sheet was very comparable to the current charges at the University of London colleges which have the benefit of much larger economies of scale.

    To put this rating into context, between 2010 and 2016 this survey question had consistently scored between 52% and 56.4%, so we can see a general trend of increasing satisfaction with this issue. This may be due to the increasing amount of information available directly for download from our various databases, which is in line with our excellent rating for provision of e-journals and databases this year.

    The cost of photocopying at IALS Library was reduced on three separate occasions some years ago, and this year we introduced a 1p reduction in the cost of scanning to bring us in line with the rest of the central University libraries. A unit of copying or printing now stands at 5p per copy, and scanning at 4p, which compares favourably with similar libraries and is broadly in line with other University of London libraries.

    In order to update its information, the Library has again enquired about prices at other libraries: most University of London colleges (e.g. UCL, SOAS and KCL) still charge 5p per A4 copy, with extra charges for larger or colour copying. LSE recently reduced its price to 3.5p per side of A4 for black and white copies, but this is for LSE students only – external visitors are charged 4p per side – with extra charges for larger or colour copying. QMUL also charge 4p with extra charges for larger or colour copying, with a small reduction for duplex copying. SOAS and UCL charge 5p per page, however, it should be noted that the 5p charge is regardless of whether it is single or double-sided. Most University of London colleges also provide their own students with free print/copy credit ranging from £4 to £12. 

    Senate House Library have recently decreased the cost of a sheet of black and white A4 print or copy to 5p to bring them in line with the rest of the central University libraries who all now use the same PaperCut system as IALS. The Bodleian Law Library (University of Oxford) has recently decreased its fees from 7p to 6p per copy, although double-sided is available for 9p. The Squire Law Library (University of Cambridge) offer one coin-operated machine which provides an A4 copy for 5p.

    In terms of scanning, the situation is moving towards free scanning for an institution’s own students, which is now provided by all of the college libraries. The Bodleian Law Library charges a reduced rate of 2p per scan. As the majority of our payments for reprographic equipment relate to the rental of the machines rather than per copy costs, IALS Library feels justified in continuing to charge for scanning. It should be noted that scanning remains free for our own IALS research students.

​​Summary results of the 2018 reader satisfaction survey

In order to find out how satisfied readers are with the library’s collections and information services, a survey of readers was carried out between Monday 25th February and Sunday 3rd March 2019. Respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction on a 4-point scale from 1 (“rarely meets needs”) to 4 (“usually meets needs”) for a number of categories. In total 111 completed survey forms were returned. This summary includes the responses to the 19 specific questions for the 2018 as well as the 2019 survey, reporting on the overall percentage across all reader categories. The questions that resulted in the highest and lowest satisfaction response rates are indicated. Many comments that were made on the survey forms have been passed on to the relevant sections for consideration. 

The main results are as follows. By ticking 3 or 4 on the 4-point scale we have assumed that the respondent’s needs are either often satisfied (3) or usually satisfied (4).

Question % of respondents who ticked 3 or 4
  2018 2019
Range of books? 86.5% 91.9%
Sufficient copies of core LLM textbooks? 74.8% 81.7%
Range of print journals? 95.2% 95.4%
Range of electronic journals and databases? 94.4% 93.5%
Ease of access to e-resources? 88.7 81.9%
Ease of use of library catalogue? 84.7% 92.5%
Quality of computing facilities? 86.7% 83%
Availability of PCs? 86.8% 86.7%
Photocopiers? 84.7% 82.9%
Printing? 79.5% 82.5%
Cost of photocopying / printing? 58.6% 62.9% (lowest)
Helpfulness of library staff? 98% 98.2% (highest)
Electronic training sessions? 93.9% 96.9%
Study facilities? 80% 92.6%
Study environment - quietness? 88.3% 80.5%
Study environment - heating? 67.6% 79.7%
Opening times? 83.7% 89%
Closing times? 83.5% 88.1%
More materials in the library or more lending?    
- in library 64% 67.6%
- more lending 36% 32.4%
Overall, how satisfied? 96% 95.5%

Thank you very much to everyone who completed a form. The feedback is very helpful for the development of library collections and information services. 

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2019 - Detailed results and report

A survey of readers was carried out between Monday 25th February and Sunday 3rd March 2019 in order to find out how satisfied readers are with the Library’s collections and information services. The original two-page survey questionnaire created in 2003 was used, as it has been every year since, to ensure consistent quality measurements. Having introduced an additional question on ease of access to electronic resources last year (and we look forward to building up useful data on this question over the coming years), a one-off question was added this year soliciting feedback regarding our ongoing IALS Transformation Project. A prominent web-link to the survey questionnaire was placed on the IALS homepage, inviting returns. This web-link and encouragement to complete the questionnaire was also emailed to all of our current library members. Posters advertising the survey were put up throughout the Library for the whole of the survey week and survey questionnaires were continually available at the Library entrance, on the Issue & Enquiry Desk and on the IALS website. Members of the Academic Services team placed a copy on every seat in the Library to encourage returns. A prize draw (£50 worth of vouchers) was also offered to encourage reader participation

The survey asked readers to rate how the Library generally meets their needs in terms of books, journals, electronic databases, library catalogue, access to e-resources, computers, photocopiers, printing, helpfulness of staff, training sessions, study facilities, study environment and opening and closing times. In total there were 20 survey questions. Respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction on a 4-point scale. The definitions of each category were as follows:

  • 1 = rarely satisfied
  • 2 = sometimes satisfied
  • 3 = often satisfied
  • 4 = usually satisfied

In total 111 completed survey forms were returned, of which 61 were from LLM students or other postgraduate taught course students, 25 from academic and research staff, 19 from postgraduate research degree students, and 6 from legal practitioners and private scholars. Respondents did not always answer every question. The number of responses was lower than usual this year, particularly from the LLM constituent, which may have been caused by the survey week being so close to a reading week. In previous years (before web submission was available), academic services staff used to stand at the library entrance and physically hand out copies to people, and we may revert to this practice next year to encourage a higher return rate.

Highlights of the Survey

The overall satisfaction rate (those who indicated they were either often or usually satisfied) was 95.5%, virtually the same as last year’s mark of 96% and is consistent with our excellent mid-nineties score for this question virtually every year since the survey began. IALS Library is very pleased to have established a definite trend of overall reader satisfaction, particularly in light of the ongoing refurbishment and the impact that this has had on certain other survey questions. Indeed, although we were initially worried that the IALS Transformation Project would have a negative impact on this year’s survey results, we are delighted to note only marginal decreases in a couple of ratings, with the majority of questions actually showing improved ratings. 

As per the last eight years, the top rating was for helpfulness of the staff, at 98.2%, and the comments section is full of praise for our friendly and helpful librarians, for which we take great pride.

Whilst last year only five questions received plus 90% ratings, this year eight received plus 90% ratings. These individual ratings will be addressed in turn below. In addition to helpfulness of library staff and overall satisfaction, the other plus 90% ratings were for electronic training sessions at 97%, range of print journals at 95.4%, range of electronic journals and databases at 93.5%, study facilities at 92.6%, ease of use of the library catalogue at 92.5%, and range of books at 91.9%

The fact that the rating for our electronic training sessions has remained above 90% for the twelfth year running, and has in fact received one of its highest ever ratings, is particularly gratifying, and replicates the excellent feedback solicited at the end of our training events. We have continued to put a great deal of effort into the expansion and development of these research skills training sessions, and have started offering a wider range of training throughout the year as a direct result of feedback from students as to what sort of training they would like the library to provide. This result clearly shows that researchers and students continue to view our annual programme as a major value-added service.

The Library is very pleased to see that the rating for range of print journals has retained a plus 90% rating for five consecutive years now. This rating has improved slightly even on last year’s excellent result. This result highlights our success in maintaining a current and comprehensive foreign and international law collection, despite our collections budget not keeping up with average law book inflation and the ongoing purchasing problems resulting from a weaker pound.

As the national legal research library our priority is to collect and make available the national research collection of printed law books and serials. We also endeavour to make as much material as possible digitally available to our members and are always keen to expand our range of research legal databases. We were therefore very pleased to see that the satisfaction rating for range of electronic journals and databases has remained above 90% for the third year running. We feel this indicates that the library, whilst having to make difficult decisions about resource provision in these difficult economic times, has chosen prudently which resources to cut and even managed where possible to add new unique electronic resources to our collection.

IALS Library was delighted to see that the satisfaction rating for study facilities (which received a sub 80% rating as recently as 2016) received an above 90% rating for the first time in over a decade. In the previous two survey reports, the comments sections contained a number of complaints about the comfort of the desks and chairs in the library and the tired look of the building generally. In a welcome contrast this year we received many compliments on how comfortable and suitable the new desks and chairs were for long periods of study and on what a major improvement the refurbishment had made to the library’s general study environment. We have long campaigned to have our facilities updated and feel that this improved rating is a vindication of our efforts. Whilst the IALS Transformation Project has had some temporary limited impact on the quietness of the library, we firmly believe that this long overdue renovation will provide a long-term significant benefit for all of our readers.
 
The rating for ease of use of library catalogue had remained in the mid-to-low 80s for the four preceding surveys, but has now climbed back above 90%, having received its highest rating since 2008. As the Library catalogue has not changed significantly in the past few years, these fluctuations in ratings may be caused by the constantly changing survey pool. This year’s higher mark may also reflect the higher proportion of academics and PhD students to LLM students responding to the survey, as it is our experience that younger students tend to have higher expectations of what a library catalogue both can and ought to do, particularly in regard to federated searching. In previous years, the comments section of the survey had seen some people expressing an expectation to see individual journal articles listed, which maybe because of the introduction of discovery platform searching to article level elsewhere (e.g. at SOAS Library). Following on from these comments in previous years, the reference team introduced training on the use of the catalogue into our induction sessions at the start of the academic year in an effort to obviate further confusion on the part of our users, which may also be responsible for the improved rating this year. We will also encourage the SHL managers of our Sierra Library Management System to continue to investigate and implement the article level searching and cross-searching modules of the new system in collaboration with the system providers Innovative Interfaces Inc.

Having remained under 90% for the four previous years, the library is very pleased to see our rating for range of books return to above 90%, as the Library remains committed to maintaining a comprehensive and up-to-date legal research collection, protecting our book purchasing budget and adding significantly to the collection. Indeed, the comments section of the survey backs up this higher rating, being full of praise for our extensive collection. This is particularly gratifying in light of the fact that for several years the Library’s book budget had not kept pace with average law book inflation as the Library’s overall budget has been flat-funded. This year we were fortunate enough to have our book purchasing budget increased to cover for average law book inflation, and the immediately improved rating here shows just how important this has been. 

Ratings above 80% were received for opening times (89%), closing times (88.1%), availability of PCs (86.7%), quality of computing facilities (83%), ease of access to e-resources (81.9%), sufficient copies of LLM textbooks (81.7%), availability of photocopiers (82.9%), availability of printing (82.5%) and study environment – noise (80.6%).

Our rating for opening times has shown an improvement (up from 83.7% last year), although still falls short of the plus 90% rating received four years ago following on from our extended opening hours. Perhaps this is inevitable in an era of 24/7 university library facilities. The few comments on this issue once again focused on earlier opening times at the weekend, particularly on a Sunday. IALS has extended the opening hours of the library more than once over the past few years in order to meet student need, and the management committee will continue to monitor the situation. By contrast, the rating for closing times, which has never received an above 90% rating since the inception of the survey received its highest ever rating, indicating that students are happy with our access arrangements in the evenings.

The rating for availability of PCs has remained virtually unchanged from last year at 86.7%. An increasing number of students are bringing their own computers into the library so demand may have peaked. IALS library will continue to monitor this issue.

Having achieved a plus 90% rating for the first time in several years two years ago, it is disappointing to see the rating for quality of computing facilities drop back slightly again to 83%. Our IALS Digital team have been working hard over the past couple of years to ensure the smooth transition to the new website, having previously streamlined the Wi-Fi log on process, simplified network printing, and rolled out new flat screen PCs on the Library concourse. As in previous years, of the readers who gave us low ratings for this category, a few complained about the Wi-Fi connection in separate sections of the survey, which may help explain the drop. We know anecdotally that students with an Eduroam Wi-Fi account can pick up a faint signal from the Institute of Education next door, and often confuse this with our own robust in-house Wi-Fi connection. However this Eduroam Wi-Fi signal became even fainter in the last month as the Institute of Education began signal blocking. This may explain the recent complaints. IALS librarians will continue to advertise and provide assistance with the IALS wireless networks and we can confirm that a new improved Wi-Fi system is being introduced as part of the IALS Transformation Project.

We decided to include the new question on ease of access to e-resources for the first time last year in light of feedback on this issue received by the School of Advanced Study (SAS) generally. We wanted to ascertain how much of an issue this was for IALS students in particular. We find the rating of 81.9% to be reassuringly high (indeed, as with last year’s rating, when this result is isolated to show only responses from IALS students, the result is 100%). More than one of the respondents who gave a lower mark on this question went on to complain about not having offsite access to certain electronic materials in the comments section which may explain this lower mark. Where possible, IALS is keen to provide offsite access to e-resources for as many of our readers as is possible. However due to strict licencing requirements this is sometimes not affordable. IALS will continue to monitor this rating.

We were very pleased to see a rating of 81.7% received for sufficient copies of LLM textbooks, which is the highest rating since 2012, and the third highest rating this survey question has ever received. We have noted in previous surveys that there has been increased LLM traffic through the Library as some of the colleges are expanding their LLM intake, and competition for LLM textbooks has been affected in the same way as competition for space. Measures such as carefully monitoring circulation and usage of core texts, purchasing additional copies of heavily-used material and placing copies of key items into the Short Loan Collection, have already been undertaken. To improve matters further, over the past year we have been trying to meet more teaching material requirements through an increased use of e-books. For example recently we have subscribed to Brill Online, the Oxford Scholarship Online service, Cambridge Core Online law eBooks and Edward Elgar eBooks among others which contain many hundreds of core legal textbooks. It is gratifying to see that a combination of such measures, and the LLM librarian remaining responsive to which items are in heavy use and ordering additional copies or placing items in the Short Loan Collection has led to such an improvement in the rating, and we hope to see this rating continue to improve.

Our rating for availability of photocopiers at 82.9% has puzzlingly remained below 90%. Anecdotal evidence from staff (and copying statistics pulled from the machines back this up) suggests that the machines are rarely all in use at the same time. Also as our current machines are new for this academic year they have not been experiencing malfunctions. It may be that as our new machines are MFDs which also serve as printers students instinctively feel that they have fewer machines available to them. It may also be the case that now the 4th floor has been refurbished the majority of students wish to base themselves there, whilst the MFD devices remain on the 2nd floor so anyone wishing to use them has to descend two floors to use them. Interestingly, the rating for availability of printing showed an improvement this year (and for the first time is virtually identical to the photocopier rating) which is perhaps inevitable since the introduction of MFDs.

We were disappointed to see the rating for study environment – quietness dip once again to 80.6% having achieved a plus 90% mark two years ago. The comments section of the survey explain this lower rating as being an unfortunate but necessary by-product of the ongoing IALS Transformation Project. Whilst we agreed with the contractors that noisy work must be carried out before 10.00am each day to minimise noise in the reading rooms, it is impossible with building work to avoid some slight disturbance which we understand can be irritating to some readers. Additionally, the temporary location of the Issue & Enquiry Desk within the formerly silent reading rooms and the temporary library entrance opening directly into the reading rooms from the lift lobby have created unavoidable noise issues. As it is not possible to operate a silent issue and enquiry service and as the admissions desk receives a number of phone calls throughout the day, maintaining complete silence within the library reading rooms during the IALS Transformation Project has become challenging. Noise from librarians helping students with enquiries and admissions, however softly spoken they may be, will necessarily bleed through into the library. In addition, students having conversations at normal levels arriving in the main lifts, or popping just outside of the library entrance to take phone calls, are perhaps unaware of just how far their voices carry into the library. Additionally the new toilets within the 4th floor reading room currently have new loud hand-dryers which have been disturbing some students (this issue has already been raised with our Premises Manager and quieter options are being sourced). In spite of this lower satisfaction rating, it is interesting to note from the comments section of the survey that there were still eight positive comments about how IALS is a quiet place to study. Of the people complaining about noise, five comments were directly about the construction work, one was about the traffic noise from outside, three were about noisy hand dryers / closing bell, and three were about staff / enquiry desk noise. It is hoped that all of these issues will be resolved once the IALS Transformation Project is completed. Finally we should point out that the project has paid for free earplugs to be available for all readers at the library entrance. 

A satisfaction rating of above 70% was received for study environment - heating (79.6%). 

The satisfaction rating for heating has once again risen above 70%, and has in fact received its highest ever survey score. Although this question received the second lowest rating in the survey overall, we are encouraged to see this improvement, bearing in mind that on previous occasions this rating has declined to below 50%. As in every previous year, the comments section contains complaints about over-heating, with some respondents stating that this puts them off using IALS as a base. However, as always, this was counter-balanced with some respondents praising the heating levels within the library, and some respondents stating that they were too cold! One of the key objectives of the ongoing IALS Transformation Project is to install reading room temperature controls and cooling equipment which will assist us enormously in maintaining a comfortable temperature in the long term, although unfortunately this new system is not operational yet. In the meantime, library staff will continue to monitor the temperatures in the reading rooms as part of their regular patrols, and open or close windows accordingly. 

The lowest rating (and the only rating of below 70%) was received for the cost of copying, scanning and printing at 62.9%, which is actually up a few points on last year. To put this in context, between 2010 and 2016 this question had consistently scored between 52% and 56.4%, so we can see a general trend of increasing satisfaction with this issue. This may be due to the increasing amount of information available directly for download from our various databases, which is in line with our excellent rating for provision of e-journals and databases this year. The cost of photocopying at IALS Library was reduced on three separate occasions some years ago, and this year we introduced a 1p reduction in the cost of scanning to bring us in line with the rest of the central University libraries. A unit of copying or printing now stands at 5p per copy, and scanning at 4p, which compares favourably with similar libraries and is broadly in line with other University of London libraries.

In order to update its information, the Library has again enquired about prices at other libraries: most University of London colleges (e.g. UCL, SOAS and KCL) still charge 5p per A4 copy, with extra charges for larger or colour copying. LSE recently reduced its price to 3.5p per side of A4 for black and white copies, but this is for LSE students only – external visitors are charged 4p per side – with extra charges for larger or colour copying. QMUL also charge 4p with extra charges for larger or colour copying, with a small reduction for duplex copying. SOAS and UCL charge 5p per page, however, it should be noted that the 5p charge is regardless of whether it is single or double-sided. Most University of London colleges also provide their own students with free print/copy credit ranging from £4 to £12. Senate House Library have recently decreased the cost of a sheet of black and white A4 print or copy to 5p to bring them in line with the rest of the central University libraries who all now use the same PaperCut system as IALS. The Bodleian Law Library (University of Oxford) has recently decreased its fees from 7p to 6p per copy, although double-sided is available for 9p. The Squire Law Library (University of Cambridge) offer one coin-operated machine which provides an A4 copy for 5p.

In terms of scanning, the situation is moving towards free scanning for an institution’s own students, which is now provided by all of the college libraries. The Bodleian Law Library charges a reduced rate of 2p per scan. As the majority of our payments for reprographic equipment relate to the rental of the machines rather than per copy costs, IALS Library feels justified in continuing to charge for scanning. It should be noted that scanning remains free for our own IALS research students.

Finally, given the choice, the majority of all respondents wanted more books available in the library (67.6%) rather than more lending outside the library (32.4%). These ratings are slightly up on last year, although still below the record breaking 75.7% of people in favour of materials in the library received in 2017, and is in keeping with our results in this area every year since the survey’s inception. It is gratifying to see that our primary objective of being a national reference library for the legal research community is supported by the majority of our users, and may once again point to the prevalence of more materials being available digitally to our readers.

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Comments and suggestions

Space was also made available on the survey form for readers to make individual comments and suggestions. Most of the main comments were similar to last year:

Comments made at least twice

  • Friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff (x 22)
  • The best place  to get work done, such a comfortable study environment (x 20)
  • Huge range of books and journals, so I am never limited in my research (x 16)
  • I found everything I needed quickly and easily (x 7)
  • IALS is my favourite library (x 5)

Suggestions for improvements

  • Sometimes far too hot / Sometimes far too cold.   (x 10)
    (Building related – to be addressed during the current refurbishment when the original 1976 radiators will be replaced with new ones with thermostats and the library will have more local control of the cooling / heating in the reading rooms.)
     
  • Noise from construction and the location of the enquiry desk is distracting (x 9)(Temporary and unavoidable effect of the IALS Transformation Project as the only place to locate the enquiry desk is currently within a silent reading room. We hope to see such comments disappear in next year’s survey. It should also be noted that we received five positive comments commending how quiet the library is despite the refurbishment project. Finally we should point out that the project has paid for free earplugs to be available for all readers at the library entrance.)
     
  • I wish the library was open for longer (x 5)
    (IALS has invested in extending our library opening hours several times over the past few years so that for most of the year we are open seven days a week. From October to June we are open 9.00am to 11.00pm, Monday to Friday; 10.00am to 8.30pm on Saturdays; and 12.30pm to 8.30pm on Sundays. These extended opening hours are longer than any other library within the central University.)
     
  • Please lend books for longer (x 3)
    (Library staff continue to monitor borrowing rights, and have recently increased the maximum number of books which can be borrowed at any one time. However we are mainly a reference library, and as noted above most people prefer availability over borrowing.)
     
  • Book suggestions
    (The individual suggestions about improving areas of our research collections have been passed to Liz Murray, Information Resources Manager, who will act on them.)
     
  • Improved library catalogue
    (A project already in progress will help us to address the comments about ease of use of the library catalogue. We are working to introduce a new discovery platform which will improve access to our many electronic resources and enable article searching from our e-resources subscriptions.)
     
  • Eating and drinking at IALS
    (A few people wanted expanded public facilities for eating and drinking at the IALS. Two comments specifically asked for somewhere to be able to prepare and consume hot food and drinks (three such comments last year). It may be possible in the future to consider extending the Café Lex hours or provide a hot drinks machine again for out-of-hours use in the short term. Hopefully, once we have been refurbished, there will be a wider variety of spaces in the building for students to consume coffee and have a meaningful break from studying.)
     
  • Cost of copying/printing/scanning
    (The usual complaints about the cost of copying, printing and scanning have been addressed above.)

The remainder of the less positive comments contain a wide variety of personal concerns, from requests for more books in individual subject areas to complaints about the high volume of the closing bell, not being able to locate particular resources, being unhappy at having to pay a fine for the late return of a book, and a complaint about the nature of the survey itself. It should be noted that despite these negative comments, the vast majority of people were extremely complimentary about the IALS Library, its collections, research support services, facilities and staff.
 

Laura Griffiths
Assistant Librarian (Academic Services)
11th March 2019

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Any comments on this public report of the 2019 IALS Reader Satisfaction Survey should be emailed to Laura Griffiths, Assistant Librarian, Academic Services at Laura.Griffiths@sas.ac.uk .

Page last updated: 3rd April 2019