Piloting a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Needs Assessment to Explore Patron Perceptions at a University Health Science Library
Keywords:Diversity Equity Inclusion, Climate Assessment, Needs Assessment, Medical Libraries, Health Sciences Libraries
A pilot diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) needs assessment was conducted at a health sciences library. The objectives were to 1) quantitatively assess patrons’ attitudes towards the existing DEI climate in the library and 2) qualitatively identify contextual factors influencing patrons’ perceptions.
The assessment was led by a DEI Team at the University of Florida’s Health Science Center Libraries (HSCL). HSCL serves the university’s six health science colleges from two sites, Gainesville and Jacksonville. HSCL Gainesville was selected as the study location, due to higher annual footfall within the physical library.
Two “HappyOrNot” customer satisfaction machines were placed by library exits. Twelve DEI-related questions were displayed on the machines, one question per week, for the duration of 12 weeks total. Additionally, a box for open-ended comments was placed by each machine.
The total number of responses was 3,445, with 7 written comments. Overall, respondents felt happiest with the library’s welcoming and home-like environment. The library was perceived by many as a physically safe space. Most also felt that the library demonstrates a commitment to DEI and that they are treated fairly, equitably, and with respect by library staff. Areas of concern were a perceived lack of respect from other library visitors, as well as library services for patrons with disabilities and non-native English language speakers.
The project enabled the HSCL to gather important information concerning patrons’ perceptions of the library’s DEI climate and their associated needs. The HappyOrNot machines provided a straightforward and convenient method for patron feedback, resulting in an impressive number of responses. However, limitations of the pilot included the inability to obtain participants’ demographic information, as well as the anecdotal evidence indicating that some respondents did not read the questions. Future plans therefore involve a follow-up online survey with detailed demographic questions.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Jane Morgan-Daniel, Lauren E. Adkins, Michele R. Tennant, Hannah F. Norton, Chloe Hough, Mary E. Edwards, Matthew Daley, Melissa L. Rethlefsen
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