Ask the reader

Library staff at the Royal Northern College of Music were delighted to win a third IAML (UK & Irl) award for Excellence in Music Libraries, as were other staff and students in the College who have congratulated the Library staff via e-mail or in person. It is very affirming to receive recognition from professional colleagues to complement the feedback from our regular users. In the citation we were commended particularly for the “excellent collection, highly knowledgeable staff….availability of the materials and access to expertise …”

Geoff Thomason, Prof Jan Smaczny, Anna Wright, Sarah d'Ardenne, Julia Knight
Geoff Thomason, Prof Jan Smaczny, Anna Wright, Sarah d’Ardenne, Julia Knight

Colleagues who attended the Academic Music Libraries Seminar at the 2016 Annual Study Weekend, and those who read Adam Taylor’s excellent blog post, will know that I gave a presentation on our annual survey (‘Rate the Library’).We have run the survey for almost 20 years and use it to obtain general feedback about the Library and its services and on more specific issues. The results of the survey are used as part of our submission for the Excellence Award and also as indicators of performance in our internal business planning process.

Over the years the wording of the questions has changed and / or been refined but in some form or another as part of the survey we ask the students to rate the Library in the context of their studies – both for specific areas and overall.

For the specific areas they have the option of answering Yes / No / Not applicable. In the most recent survey, carried out in March, we had fewer respondent than previous years but were very encouraged that the percentage responding ‘Yes’ to the questions ‘Does the Library supply most of the material you need for the main strands of your course’ had increased.

The general question is ‘Overall how would you rate the Library in the context of your course requiremenA stock photograph of a person taking a customer survey and responding "excellent".ts?’ and respondents have the option of answering Excellent / Good / Average / Poor.

Although the percentage answering Excellent had dropped slightly this time, when the numbers of those answering Excellent or Good are added together the total is 98.8% – a small increase over the previous year when that total was 97.5%.

Alongside the quantitative questions mentioned above and others relating to different aspects of the Library, such as use of journals and online resources, we also offer opportunities for free text comments by asking respondents:

            Please tell us what you think are the best things about the Library

            Please tell us things about the Library which you think are most in need of                               improvement

            Any other comments

Almost all of the respondents put at least one comment in the ‘best things’ box and many put several; 66% identified at least one thing in the ‘in most need of improvement’ box; and 25% included something in ‘Any other comments’.

In the ‘best thing’ section the three categories receiving the highest number of comments were stock (38%); staff (31%); and, purchasing requests, i.e. buying items in on request (15%). In the ‘Any other comments’ section, 66% of them were general appreciation of the service and staff. Interestingly by far the highest number of comments in the ‘things most in need of improvement’ section were also related to stock (26%).

These are just some of the comments made:

“The brilliant facilities -amount of music in stock, staff able to help locate music if not in.”

“Very accessible staff for help and advice.”

“Amazing super-friendly and helpful staff. They have always helped to source everything I have ever needed :)”

“The staff are AMAZING!!”

“Amazing staff. Great resources. Support throughout my student life at the RNCM.”

“Great physical resources”

“The range of resources is impressive”

“Lots of great repertoire and CDs”

Many of the comments on things to improve are detailed and we will consider all of them to see how we can respond – whether we need to make a change to our procedures, or explain something more clearly, or manage expectations about what can be provided. Once we have done that we will provide feedback through RNCM Moodle (our virtual learning environment) and more formally in a committee so that students know that their comments are important in shaping the Library provision at the RNCM.

Thank you again for the award – the certificate will be joining the others on the wall in the next few days!

Anna Wright, Royal Northern College of Music

The full citation for the RNCM’s Excellence Award reads:

The service was particularly commended for its excellent collection, highly knowledgeable staff, long opening hours and ready availability of the materials and access to expertise, including a blog to highlight new stock and other areas of interest.

Congratulations to the team at the RNCM.