In Welcome Week (19-23 September), we piloted gathering feedback in the form of post-it notes on walls in the Templeman Library.
We chose to try a comments wall, having seen other libraries use it successfully as a way to get students’ honest feedback and have a conversation with them (such as York St John, Cambridge’s Judge Business School and Leeds Beckett).
We wanted to find out:
- whether students would engage with a comments wall – and thus if it would be worth introducing in future
- students’ thoughts on the Library. This was a secondary consideration, as we didn’t have a plan to pass on or act on feedback immediately. Most of the comments confirmed views we were already aware of.
We decided to do it in Welcome Week because:
- there was a lot of passing footfall in the Library, with around 1700 students visiting for induction sessions
- the start of term was a good chance to get new students’ first impressions
- at the start of term, students would possibly be more willing to engage with something new
- it was originally designed as an activity students could do while waiting for their next session.
We set up 2 movable screens, with post-it pads and marker pens next to them. (We used post-its rather than turning the screens into whiteboards because it was easier with the resources available.)
- Ground Floor West, in the Core Text Collection. Initially it was right next to the area in front of the café where students waited for their next session, but later it was moved further back among the shelves – and got more responses here. It asked ‘What do you think of the Templeman Library?’
- Floor 1 West, near the Library & IT Support Desk. First it was round the corner from the Support Desk, with the question ‘What do you think of Kent so far?’. Partway through the week it was moved within sight of the Support Desk, next to the printer, with the question ‘Tell us something you’ve learned today’.
The wall in the Core Text Collection got a lot more responses – especially useful, relevant ones – than the one upstairs.
This could be because the Core Text Collection wall:
- asked a more engaging question
- had more students passing
- was not close to or in sight of the Loan Desk – so students felt less self-conscious.
Here are the main themes that came up in the answers:
‘What do you think of the Templeman Library?’
- Want more seats/study spaces (10)
- more seats near windows (1)
- seats in the Core Text Collection near wooden stairs (1)
- Want private study rooms (1)
- Likes that the Core Text Collection is a communal space (1)
- Good division of spaces (1)
- Want Senate study hub to re-open (1)
- Needs more bins (3)
- Comfortable (2)
- Want the centre to re-open (2)
- Too hot (2)
- Too cold (1)
- Organised (1)
- Busy (1)
- Big (1)
- Modern (1)
- Well-furnished (1)
- Clean (1)
- Good (range of) books (6)
- Needs more books/core text books (2)
- Don’t want 3-day loans (2)
- Easy to find books (1)
- Doesn’t understand how to use computers (1)
- Scanner is old-fashioned (1)
- Wants more PCs (1)
- Staff are good (1)
- IT staff are rude (1)
- Need more staff to help find books in Templeman East (1)
- Should have sleeping pods/beds (2)
- Good food in the café (2)
- Wants a 24-hour café (1)
- Positive (11)
- Indifferent (2)
- Light innuendo & replies to other comments
- Weird satanic slogans (which staff removed)
‘What do you think of Kent so far?’
- Generally positive (3)
- Campus wildlife (8) – a conversation about where to spot albino squirrels on campus
- IT Support are amazing (1)
- Irrelevant (3) – slogans, batman logo
‘Tell us something you’ve learned today’
Only 2 replies:
- How to check out and find books
- How to access Library account info on [borrow and renew?] machine
It looks like students are happy to write on comment walls as long as they’re in the right place and ask the right questions, so it would be using them again.
Next time it would be better to use a whiteboard if we have one available. It’s easier for staff to reply and it doesn’t use so many materials (just whiteboard markers – tied onto the board so they don’t disappear) or risk dropping post-its all over the floor.
To do this, we will need a clear plan of who will:
- monitor the wall
- decide on questions to ask
- reply to/act on feedback
- when the wall is full, photograph it and rub it out to start afresh
Lending Services are interested in having a whiteboard permanently in the Core Text Collection, and perhaps also in Templeman East, so watch this space.