Did You Know? Factoids from Library Assessment

October 2021

Graphic showing statistics over three first days of fall semester 2019-2021

In September 2020, Library Assessment created a “first day” factoid to show user engagement with the Library while operating with a hybrid service model. Revisiting those “first day” statistics continues to show new engagements when the fall 2021 semester started. As expected, 2020 saw a significant increase in the use of online services and electronic resources (EZ Proxy, LibGuides, and LibChat). However, use of those services hasn’t dropped to 2019 numbers even though in-person library services are more accessible.

A note about the data: these metrics and data collection methods have also undergone changes within the past three years, leading to new data points and also estimation of some historical ones. The 2019 LibGuides visits are based off monthly counts divided by the number of days that received visits. The method of measuring engagements to the library’s websites has moved from Google Analytics Universal to Google Analytics 4.

Shout out to John Laskowski for providing website usage stats on demand!


September 2021

Line graph of off-campus resource use

Since September 2019, the Library has been using Splunk (a large-scale data analysis tool) to process EZproxy logs in order to record the aggregate use of electronic resources by off-campus users. As we approach September 2021, a few trends can be seen in the data over the past two academic years. Off-campus resource use tends to peak in the middle of the Fall and Spring Semesters, especially for undergraduate and graduate students. Staff and faculty also see a higher rate of off-campus resource usage during this time, but generally remain static users throughout the year. Off-campus resource use has generally remained higher after March 2020, when alternative online course delivery started due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Immediately after alternative delivery started, April 2020 saw a peak for undergraduate and staff users. Graduate students and faculty exceeded their April 2020 use in March 2021.

Notes: In January and November 2020 there were some issues with Shibboleth that affected data accuracy in Splunk. As a result, the numbers of faculty and staff users during those two months were estimated (shown in dotted lines).

Interested in more EZproxy off-campus library resource use data? Check out these previous factoids:

  • February 2020: Percentage of Students Using Off-Campus Resources by College in Fall 2019
  • March 2020: Percentage of Student Off-Campus Use by College in Fall 2019
  • April 2020: Daily EZproxy Transactions from January 2020 to March 2020
  • June 2020: Comparing Percentages of Student Off-Campus Resource Use in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020


August 2021

horizontal bar graph showing survey results about virtual hangouts

  • 86% of staff are always or often attending Hangouts.
  • Almost half (47%) never watch the recordings.
  • Almost all (99%) strongly agree or agree that Hangouts provide important information.
  • 77% strongly agree or agree that Hangouts provide a virtual environment for employees to connect.
  • 87% strongly agree or agree that recaps shared via LIB-NEWS have been helpful.

There were 33 comments to improve Hangouts (from 58.9% of survey takers). Here are a few:

  • Hangouts seem targeted to faculty; make relevant to civil service and grad students.
  • Is there a way to submit topics in advance?
  • Send an agenda beforehand; share documents to be discussed ahead of time.
  • Assign someone to watch the chat as Qs sometimes get lost.
  • More notice for Hangouts.
  • More on what other committees are doing or a team or group spotlight.
  • Provide community guidelines or chat etiquette.
  • Consider adding structured social time or more informal discussion.

Stay tuned for more on improving future monthly Hangouts.

Graphic created by Jen-chien Yu. Text written by Heather Murphy.


No factoid published in July 2021.


June 2021

images showing library staff with HR statistics

Data from the Division of Management Information 2020-2021 Campus Profile. Photos from the University Library Instagram account.


May 2021

graphic showing data from Spring 2021 Library Service Satisfaction Survey

During March 2021, Library Assessment sent out the third short Library Service Satisfaction Survey, the last in a series this academic year started in October 2020 and November 2020 to assess students’ needs and attitudes towards library services during the pandemic. Among 130 responses, the most used services remained similar to what we saw in our first survey with e-book/e-journal and materials checkout being the most frequently used services (see the November 2020 factoid: https://www.library.illinois.edu/staff/assessment/did-you-know-factoids-from-library-assessment/#nov20]. However, as hours and opportunities for bookable study spaces have increased in Spring Semester 2021 (especially in response to concerns from the first round of surveys), bookable study space became the third most used library service. This time we also gave students the opportunity to upload a photo related to their perspective of the library and give it a related caption. We feature photos received in our survey in this factoid above. Respondents frequently commented that they enjoyed taking a break from studying in the library by looking out the window at campus views and enjoyed the natural lighting. Three main areas of concern have remained a theme in the survey responses also: lack of information about how to access library resources (“[I] am not fully aware of what is available or how to use it”), open physical stacks access, and more study spaces, especially for collaborative use.


April 2021

double stacked bar chart showing wifi sessions by hour

With the upcoming integration of the Undergraduate Library (UGL) into the Main Library, we have been looking deeply into the data to find what our users need in a new library space. Part of this examination has been analyzing quantitative traffic data: head counts, gate counts, and Wi-Fi sessions. What is the expected capacity when two spaces are merged? Looking at pre-Covid Wi-Fi data collected during the Spring 2020 Sweeps Week, the Main Library is typically busy in the morning and that UGL is busier in the afternoon—sustaining head counts and Wi-Fi sessions even late into the night. The highest number of Wi-Fi sessions in a single hour at UGL is 820 sessions on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. and, at the Main Library, is 1,691 sessions on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m.. Throughout the week, UGL sees its peak Wi-Fi counts at 3:00 p.m. while Main has more counts during the week in the 12:00 p.m. window.

As the qualitative side of this data, undergraduate students in recent library focus groups revealed their library experience, providing answers for why does the Wi-Fi peak at 3:00 p.m.. Most participants reported that they like to use the library for study space after class, ranging from quiet solo or comfortable-volume collaborative study. Others talked about using the library as their space outside of their dorm/home, work, and class. While the Main Library has a more utilitarian vibe where one goes to checkout specific materials or expects “traditional” library experiences, the UGL is more a destination where one can collaborate, study, browse the open stacks, and meet up with friends. Students who contributed to the study would like to see more spaces for individual quiet use, but also for collaboration, as well as knowing in advance if there was a quiet or collaborative seat available for them at peak times.


March 2021

Graph showing expenditure per full time student between 2002-2018

The “Digest of Education Statistics, 2019” was published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) this month. It contains the most recent statistical information regarding universities and libraries. The Digest examined library expenditures at degree-granting postsecondary institutions across the United States and found total library expenditures (including salaries and wages, materials, and other operating expenditures) per FTE were 25 percent lower in 2011-12 ($491, in 2018-19 dollars) than in 2001-02 ($654, in 2018-19 dollars). Total library expenditures per FTE slightly increase from 2011-12 to 2017-18, however, they were still 13 percent lower in 2017-18 ($571) than in 2001-02. Library materials expenditures, which include one-time (books, backfiles, etc.), ongoing (serial and electronic resource subscriptions), and other expenditures for collection support, showed a similar trend during the same time period. Library materials expenditures per FTE were 19 percent and 10 percent lower in 2011-12 and 2017-18 than in 2001-02, respectively.

More information is available at https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/.


February 2021

graphic showing percent of online survey respondents that use library services: 91 percent of all respondents; 94 percent of respondents that took online classes

In October and November 2020, 315 students responded to a Library Service Satisfaction Survey. 91% of the respondents have used library services. Most used services identified by the respondents are e-books/e-journals, checking out a book/equipment, consultation with a librarian, and bookable study spaces. Library services are important for students who are fully remote – 94% of respondents who took all classes online, as well as 93% of respondents who lived outside of the Champaign, Urbana and Savoy areas, have used library services in Fall 2020.

While there are many challenges providing library services during the pandemic, many respondents shared their appreciation to the Library and library staff. The image below highlights a few encouragement and thank-yous submitted by the respondents.

graphic with quotes from survey respondents in gratitude for library services


December 2020

chat box showing that library staff sent the most emojis and that most emojis were happy

From the first day of class to the start of fall break, the Ask a Librarian (LibChat) virtual reference service has answered 3,791 questions from students, faculty, and the broader user community. In those conversations over LibChat, there were feelings of frustration, encouragement, gratitude, and more – and they were sometimes expressed with the use of emojis. Using emojis during a live chat can add a human touch to online conversations, help patrons feel more at ease, and improve the overall user experience. Take the September chats as an example – 615 emojis were found in the chat transcripts and 64% of the emojis were sent by the Library staff. 🙂


November 2020

factoid showing the must used library services from Oct 2020

In October 2020, the first of two short library satisfaction surveys was circulated among randomly selected undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. The goal of the survey was to assess the students’ needs and attitudes with respect to the services and resources offered by the University Library during the pandemic. In the survey, students were asked to rate eleven library services (i.e., study spaces, checkout items, librarian consultation) as easy, neither easy or difficult, or difficult to use. Students were also given an option to select that they have never used the service. Of the 215 responses, three of the most used services were e-books or e-journals (72% of respondents have used), checking out books, equipment, or other library items (45%), and consultation with a librarian (44%). Of those who have used each service, 69% of respondents selected that e-books or e-journals are easy to use, 52% selected that checking out library items is easy to use, and 66% selected that the consultation with a librarian service is easy to use. The second of this survey series will be sent in November to a different population of students. The comments from this survey have already revealed key areas of improvement for making the library’s services more easily accessible to students during the pandemic.


October 2020

graphic showing circulation statistics for Voyager ILS

The library started using Voyager as the integrated library system in April 2002. On June 24th, 2020, we said goodbye to Voyager, along with VuFind and Classic Voyager (WebVoyage), and welcomed Alma and Primo. During the past 18 years, millions of transactions were processed using Voyager. Looking at the circulation statistics alone, there were more than 8.5 million initial checkouts, 5.8 million renews, and 8.1 million returns recorded in Voyager. That equals to 1.2 million circulation transactions per year and an average of 2 transactions per minute.

We thank you for your service, Voyager. Bon Voyage!

Thanks to Michael Norman, Janelle Sander, Cherie Weible, and Heather Murphy for providing data and consultation. Image created by Library Assessment Graduate Assistant Lindsay Taylor.


September 2020

factoid image with library statistics related to the first day of classes

This year’s first day of classes for the fall semester, August 24, 2020, was far different than any other first day that the university has had. There were no long lines at the coffee shops, and no one asked where Room 66 was or where they could print out class schedules. While it was quiet in library buildings and spaces, library services were busy at work, serving faculty, staff, and students who were on or away from campus. Here is what happened in the Library (virtually) during the first day of classes.


August 2020

library factoid showing belonging statistics

In a survey conducted in Fall 2018, the library asked 974 undergraduate students to indicate their level of agreement to this statement “When I am in a campus library building, I feel that I belong” using a scale of 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 7 (Strongly Agree). The chart below shows how male, female, and students who did not identify with either gender responded to the question.

Male students were more likely to support the statement (n=617, median=6) than female students (n=219, median=5). It is unclear how the “Don’t identify with either” subgroup felt about this statement since it had less than 20 participants. However, understanding and acknowledging the differences in perceptions and needs across all student demographic subgroups is essential during the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest. Several studies of college student experiences during the pandemic have found that underrepresented or marginalized student groups are dealing with a higher level of stress and financial or social worries. For example, a study conducted by the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS)* found that non-binary and female college students felt more stressed and worried about paying for rent or food than male students. Another study conducted by Ithaka S+R** revealed a similar trend about non-binary and female students. The Ithaka S+R report also showed that students lacked a sense of belonging and felt socially disconnected.

*HEDS COVID-19 Institutional Response Surveys
**Student Experiences During the Pandemic Pivot


July 2020

library factoid about business workshop feedback

Business Information Services (BIS) has been providing the Business 101 Library Workshop to students who enroll in BUS 101 (Professional Responsibility and Business), a 3-credit course and a core requirement for business majors. In Fall 2019, BUS 101 instructors required all their students to complete the Workshop. 704 students (out of 791 who enrolled) completed an evaluation after attending the Workshop. 66% of those students (n=464) ranked the Workshop “Very Good” and identified the elements they liked the most: Instruction, Hands-on Practice, and Availability of Resources. In addition, a comparison of BUS 101 course grades from Fall 2018 (students were not required to complete the Workshop) found that the students from Fall 2019 had higher grades (t test results).


June 2020

library factoid image showing EZproxy use

After the campus closed and all classes resumed online on March 23rd, the use of the Library’s EZproxy and electronic resources by all user groups, particularly by the students, has increased. More than 36,000 students have accessed the EZproxy server since September 2019. The chart below compares the percentages of students who accessed the EZproxy, using aggregated data from the fall semester (blue bars) and both fall/spring semesters (orange bars). The percentages were increased for all colleges, most notable for Fine + Applied Arts (FAA), Liberal Arts Sciences (LAS) and Vet Med (VMED).


May 2020

library factoid image showing chat statistics

While all University Library locations are closed to the public in accordance with the “stay-at-home” order, the Ask a Librarian virtual reference service continues to support students, faculty, and the broader user community. Data show that the Ask a Librarian service answered 201 chats during spring break 2020 (March 14-22) – a 100% increase compared to spring break 2019. During the first week after classes resumed online (March 23), the Ask a Librarian service answered 252 chats, which marks the busiest week since October 2019.


April 2020

library factoid image showing EZproxy statistics

Usage of library electronic resources has increased after the university began alternative online course delivery. Based on the year-to-date data, the highest daily transactions by faculty/staff and students were both recorded on Monday, March 30th. There were 2,989 EZproxy transactions initiated by Illinois students and 2,419 transactions initiated by Illinois faculty and staff.


March 2020

library factoid image showing off campus resource use

Since September 2019, the Library has been using Splunk (a large scale data analysis tool) to process EZProxy logs in order to record the aggregate use of electronic resources by off-campus users. From September to December 2019, 33% of faculty, as well as 32% of students, have accessed the library resources from off-campus. The chart below shows that during the same time period, 32.4% of the off-campus student logins were initiated by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) students, 17.1% by the Grainger College of Engineering (ENGR) students, and 16.5% by the Gies College of Business (BUS) students.

The data analysis and visualization of usage logs would not be possible without extensive work by the Library IT, especially Jon Gorman and Jason Colwell.


February 2020

library factoid image showing off campus resource use
Since September 2019, the Library has been using Splunk (a large scale data analysis tool) to process EZProxy logs in order to record the aggregate use of electronic resources by off-campus users. From September to December 2019, 33% of faculty as well as 32% of students have accessed the library resources from off-campus. The graph below shows the percentage of students who accessed resources from off-campus for each college. The top colleges/schools are the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, iSchool, the College of Education, and the School of Social Work.

The data analysis and visualization of usage logs would not be possible without extensive work by the Library IT, especially Jon Gorman and Jason Colwell.


January 2020

library factoid image showing statistics about the undergraduate library

As part of the Undergraduate Library’s 50th Anniversary celebration, we asked students to write down what they liked about the UGL. Overwhelmingly students said they loved the UGL as a place to be with friends (Social Spaces, 25%) and to study (22%).


December 2019

library factoid graph showing circulation statistics

The University Library recorded 322,962 initial circulations during Fiscal Year 2019, which shows a 2% increase from Fiscal Year 2018 (316,273). Academic libraries use “initial circulations,” which does not include reserves and loanable technology or e-book usage, as an important metric to assess the use of a physical collection. During FY18, the Library recorded the second highest number of initial circulations among BTAA libraries (#8 among 116 ARL university libraries).


November 2019

library factoid graph showing reference transactions

A “Reference Question” is defined as an “information contact that involves the knowledge or use of one or more information sources by library staff” (ISO 2789). While many academic libraries have reported a decline in reference services for the last decade, these continue to be important at the University Library. During the fiscal year 2018, the library provided the most reference and consultation interactions (62,868) among all BTAA libraries and more than many other peer institutions (#14 of 116 ARL university libraries).


October 2019

library factoid image reporting faculty survey statistics

How do Illinois faculty value the University Library and the librarians and staff? The 2019 faculty survey found that 63% of the faculty participated in the survey felt that the librarians and the library contribute to student success. The faculty also highly valued that the library “Pays for the resources they need” (94%), “Supports graduate research” (82%) and “Supports undergraduate education” (79%).

For more information about the survey, please visit https://www.library.illinois.edu/staff/assessment/libsurv/ithaka-sr-faculty-survey-2019-faq/.


September 2019

library factoid graph showing faculty survey result

The library conducted a faculty survey in spring 2019 and found a considerable increase (19%) in the importance of undergraduate library instruction. 79% of the Illinois faculty who participated in the survey viewed the function of “The library helps undergraduates develop research, critical analysis, and information literacy skills” to be important/extremely important. In 2013, only 60% of the participants valued the undergraduate library instruction as important.

For more information about the survey, please visit https://www.library.illinois.edu/staff/assessment/libsurv/ithaka-sr-faculty-survey-2019-faq/ .


August 2019

library factoid graph expressing number of library visits for undergraduate students

A survey conducted in fall 2018 by the Library shows that 97% of the undergraduate students surveyed have physically visited the library. 42% said they prefer studying/working in a campus library more than in other types of buildings. 52% identified with this statement: “When I am in a campus library building, I feel that I belong.”

For more information about the survey, please visit https://odos.illinois.edu/assessment/pulse/2018/library/ and https://go.library.illinois.edu/undergrad.