Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Library included in Princeton Review survey

Library Journal posted a piece about the 2013 Princeton Review college rankings, which now includes an item about the library.  This is a survey of about 122,000 students asking their opinions of various aspects of the colleges they are attending.  The particular question was,  “How do you rate your school’s library facilities?” and the responses are on 5-point Likert scale ranging from "Excellent" to "Awful".  The Princeton Review then ranks the institutions by each item and provides two lists: "Best College Library" and "This is a Library?".  Like other surveys of students, these kinds of reports provide only limited information from a very limited viewpoint.  Students are not asked to make comparisons and no other information is taken into account for the two lists.

Taking all this into consideration, it is interesting to see how some libraries fared.  Of the 20 in the "Best College Library" list, 6 were Public and 14 were Private (30%).  Of the 20 in the "This is a Library?", only 3 (9%) were Public.  For comparison, only 5% of the "Students Study the Most" were Public, but 85% of the "Students Study the Least" were Public (hmmm...).   Interestingly, 20% of the "This is a Library?" group were also in the "This is a Dorm?" group, while 15% of the "Best College Library" had the Best College Dorms".  Ok, so there isn't that much overlap there...

What about happy students?  Are the schools with the happiest students similar to the schools with the best libraries (survey says....)?  Well, not really...only 10% overlap.  However, 20% of the "This is a Library?" group were also in the "Least Happy Students" group -- the same group in the "This is a Dorm?" group.  OK, so there seems to be a set of schools with very dissatisfied students.

Finally, what about financial aid and administration.  Well, 20% of the "Best College Library" group were in the "Best Run Colleges" group, while 25% of the "This is a Library?" group were in the "Administrators get low Marks" group...again, all but one of the same schools that overlapped in other categories.  Finally, 35% of the "Best College Library" group were also in the "Best Financial Aid" group (all private schools, of course) [NOTE: one of the Best College Library group was the US Military Academy - no financial aid required].  Conversely, only 10% of those in the "This is a Library?" group were in the "Financial Aid Not So Great" group.

OK, that's all well and good, but it is just a survey of students' opinions...which makes me wonder if there is some correlation with LibQual+.  Unfortunately, my university is not represented in the list of that purposeful?  Did our administration opt-out?  Oh well, the Princeton Review survey does not provide near the detail or information that LibQual does - we have no idea why Drexel was in the "This is a Library?" group when it has a prestigious School of Information (or did I just answer my own question?).

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