Skip to main content

Measuring Information Service Outcomes 2019

What the Libraries are learning from our MISO results

In the early spring of 2019, a large percentage of the Swarthmore College community took time to complete the MISO (Measuring Information Service Outcomes) Survey, which asks for feedback about both Library and ITS services. The two departments first participated in this nationally run survey in 2016 and decided to repeat the survey every three years as we hope to learn from longitudinal data and want to be aware of any data trends.

The Libraries were particularly interested in the 2019 survey results, since the new version of our catalog, Tripod, launched in December and the survey ran shortly afterward, in February. We knew there were hiccups in the Tripod launch and were eager to compare the community responses about the library catalog to their responses in 2016.

Interestingly, while there remains more to learn from MISO results, there were no statistically significant differences in how our community views our services since 2016, including the catalog, Tripod. Yet, we had deeper questions to ask of the data and and so received help from our colleagues in the Office of Institutional Research to use some of the demographic data collected to run cross tabulated results. The sections, below, summarize a few results that stand out.

Faculty Survey:
How would you describe your skill level with tripod?

We learned that a higher percentage of faculty do not use Tripod or library databases than we expected and further discovered that the number of faculty who do not use these resources has increased from 2016 - 2019. The number of faculty who say they "do not use" Tripod rose from 7.4% in 2016 to 12.9% in 2019. To learn more, we looked at faculty responses by academic division, start year, full-time status, rank and tenure.

53.8% of faculty who do not use Tripod define their academic division as "other" (not the Humanities, Social Sciences or Natural Sciences/Engineering.) In conjunction with the other cross tabulated results, we get a picture of non-Tripod using faculty whose rank is Instructor/Lecturer or "Other," are part-time, not on tenure track and began teaching at Swarthmore after 1996. We did not examine this question with as much granularity in 2016 and so do not have comparative data for this question between the two surveys, but looking at the data in this context helps us see that, while more recently hired faculty report with less confidence, a solid majority of our full-time faculty at the assistant, associate and full professor rank in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Engineering describe their Tripod skill level as Basic through Expert,

Faculty self described skill Level with Tripod

Faculty Survey:
Digital Scholarship

Cross tabulated analysis of the question "How important is digital scholarship to you?" in conjunction with "How dissatisfied or satisfied are you with digital scholarship?" was a priority for us in this growing field.  We saw that 71% of our faculty in the Humanities consider digital scholarship to be either Important, (27.5%) or Very Important (43.5%) Yet fewer of these faculty members say they are "Satisfied" with digital scholarship (41.4%) and 17.1% are only "Somewhat satisfied." Additionally, a small (undetermined) percent of faculty in the Humanities are "Somewhat dissatisfied."

We broke down results further by looking at faculty start year (especially more recent hires) and rank (particularly Assistant Professors) and noticed that there is a correlation in this group between thinking digital scholarship is important and being less satisfied. We hope to use this data to show that there is a growing need for support of digital scholarship projects and we plan to advocate for library space, technology and staff dedicated to this area.

Student Survey

Student survey results to questions about users' skill levels with Tripod, Databases, finding and evaluating information and data display and visualization made sense based on class year and academic division. As we may have predicted, students in the Humanities and Social Sciences generally felt more skilled in these areas than those in the Natural Sciences and Engineering and confidence levels rose considerably by class year.

However, when we looked at this data by the responses of under represented minority groups (defined as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino/a, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, or American Indian/Alaska Native - excluding international students and multi-racial identifiers) compared to non-under represented minorities, some interesting results emerged.

Students in under-represented-minority groups report being more informed about library services and describe being more skilled finding and evaluating information for their research, yet students who are not in under-represented minority groups report having more skill using the library catalog and databases.

what is a library service?

The number of faculty, students and staff who say they feel "not informed" or only "somewhat informed" about library services was a surprise to us. To help us communicate what services we offer more effectively, we need to first learn what people think of when they see the term "library services." Do they think about circulation, or perhaps access to online resources? Naturally, we'd prefer a larger percentage of our users feel "Informed" about our services, so we've organized interested staff in a Communications Group to consider how we might identify and promote services.

Student Survey: How informed do you feel about available library services?

librarian appreciation!

To close on a wonderfully positive note, our faculty, staff and students continue to rate their satisfaction with librarians very highly, between 3.8 or 9 on a 4 point scale, for being friendly, knowledgeable, reliable and responsive. Thank you Swarthmore community - we love you right back!

Staff Survey: How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements with regard to library circulation staff?