Innovation & Research Practice
Paper: Program Description Abstract
Using Suma to Assess Space and Resource Use of an Academic Veterinary Medical Library
Tuesday, May 7
5:20 PM - 5:35 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom B (East Tower, Ballroom/Gold Level)
Head, Flower-Sprecher Veterinary Library
Cornell University Library
Ithaca, New York
Background : A small academic veterinary library with a limited budget and staff wished to improve our spaces and resources. We used Suma to collect information on how our users are utilizing our furniture, resources, and spaces. Suma is an open-source, tablet-based software for collecting and analyzing observational data to help understand space and resource use. In the fall of 2018, we collected data to capture use patterns across the semester. Suma was easy to use, and trends quickly emerged and helped us to make informed decisions, to streamline our efforts and resources, and to uncover future assessment needs.
Description : At our small academic veterinary library, users frequently make individual requests to staff on how they would like us to improve the services and resources. Although it is helpful to receive such requests, it can be difficult to prioritize which to fulfill and which to defer, particularly in light of the limited budget and staff resources that we have. To strategically inform how we can improve our space, we undertook a comprehensive assessment of our spaces and resources to best address user needs and behaviors. We used Suma to collect observational data over nine weeks that were targeted to capture the variety of library use over a semester. During collection periods, data were collected five times per weekdays and two times per weekends. Data collection took 5-15 minutes per collection session and required the participation of five individuals.
Conclusion : This assessment tool was easy to use, but its data interpretation was complicated. Nevertheless, results helped us to understand practical issues such as how to shift our computer fleet, and which pieces of furniture are used heavily versus those that are rarely touched. It helped us to understand how library patrons use our space, including a typical group size, and the activities that they undertake while in the library. Finally, this project helped us to develop valuable relationships with library patrons who were excited to see that we are paying attention to how they use the spaces that we provide, and impromptu conversations with them led to excellent feedback on how to improve our library.