Students Have a Say! New Library Advisory Board Helps Develop a Use Policy

During the spring 2016 semester, the Samuel C. Williams Library started meeting with students in the formation of a Library Advisory Board. This group would aid the Library in making decisions about key aspects of the Library’s resources, services and the types of space the Library provides for the Stevens community.  

Library Director Linda Beninghove said, "The students serving on the Library Advisory Board are helping to make a positive difference in the lives of all Stevens students. Academic libraries are evolving at a fast pace and remain as critically important in the lives of university students as ever. We created the Library Advisory Board earlier this year to strengthen the relationship between students and the Library and to provide us with the important opportunity to listen to feedback and collaborate to bring new, innovative ideas to action."

The Library Advisory Board was made up of undergraduate, graduate, domestic, and international students. Graduating Senior Stephanie Basile said, ”serving on the Library's advisory board was important to me because the Library is a place that every student uses and giving the library staff productive student feedback is important to make the space as useful as possible.”  

Christopher Drew ‘19 added that “the Library is the single most-used resource on campus, and helping to improve the library experience will help just about everyone's day.” Shane Arlington,’16 concluded that “[he] always felt that there were many aspects of [the Library] that could use improvement. I hoped to provide feedback to improve current and future students' experiences with the Library.“

A primary objective for the spring 2016 semester for the Advisory Board was to develop and complete a Library Use Policy. “I think that the library use policy is important because it delineates what students can expect from one another, and what the Library can expect from those students,” Arlington pointed out.  Basile added,  “the benefit of the Library Use Policy is that the students and staff alike have a written document to reference what is and is not acceptable in the Library.”

The Library conducted a survey in the fall 2015 semester in which over 70 students gave their opinions and suggestions for the Library.  From the survey, we were able to gather that a clear and concise Library Use Policy was necessary for students to refer to from our website and guide conduct when using the Library. Drew also added that the Policy would “ensure that all students are fairly represented and allowed equal access to library resources in a welcome and comfortable environment.”

The Library Advisory Board looked at other academic library use policies to see what kind of language others had used. In the end, we all agreed that the policy maintained by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was relevant and could be adopted to the Stevens Library community but make specific to our community. Drew added that the “the Library Use Policy needs to be clear, concise, and fair to all.” 

After much thought, consideration, and agreement, the Library Advisory Board drafted a final version of the Library Use Policy that was approved by the Library. We invite others to view it here and to make suggestions to improve it further.  

We invite others from Stevens to join the Library Advisory Board! Please contact Library Director Linda Beninghove if you are interested in joining the Advisory Board.  To read the full Library Use Policy, go here

By Romel Espinel, Web Services Librarian