Discussions on the art and craft of research

Month: May 2018

Happy to Help! Rating Customer Satisfaction for Information Services with the MISO Survey


The student was panicked. She dropped the thumb drive on the counter. “I saved the document 20 times but it keeps coming out with a big white line down the middle and it’s due in 2 hours and I have a class now and I’ve never used Adobe Illustrator before so I must have done something wrong but I don’t know how to fix it and now I’m going to get a zero!” “Okay,” said the IT Service Desk staff member calmly, “no problem, we can fix this.” The staff member took the thumb drive, sent the student to class, fixed the file, and brought the thumb drive to the office to hand it in on time for the student. No problem.

The story above is just another moment in a day in the life of Information Services. It is difficult to quantify the importance of the resources and services offered through the department. Since 2009, we have used the MISO survey to get a picture of customer satisfaction with information services staff, resources and services. The MISO survey is administered biannually to assess the importance of, and satisfaction with, library and technology services. It also attempts to take a snapshot of attitudes and practices relating to information usage. MISO is an acronym that stands for Measuring Information Services Outcomes; it’s a nonprofit survey provider based at Bryn Mawr College, and numerous colleges and universities administer the survey each year. For more information on the survey, visit

The survey was administered in February 2018 and had the following response rates: 58.4% of faculty (146 responses), 41.9% of staff (211 responses), and 66.6% of a random sample of approximately 700 students (i.e., 466 responses). The high participation rate for MISO shows the value placed on communications and collaboration at Connecticut College. The departments that comprise Information Services are made stronger by soliciting and listening to feedback provided by MISO and other assessments.


Information Services staff members received very high mean trait ratings from all groups surveyed. Respondents were asked to rate staff on four criteria (friendliness, knowledgeability, reliability and responsiveness). Taking ratings across these four criteria as an average, all staff areas received a score of at least 3.5 out of 4 (with 3 representing “somewhat agree” and 4 representing “agree”).

The focus on customer service is a priority for all departments and service points in Information Services. The reference department was rated 3.9 out of 4 in all traits. The IT Service Desk has made it a priority to train student workers for high quality customer service as well as expert technical knowledge. Their ratings have gone up consistently since 2014 from 3.14 in 2014 to 3.7 out of 4 in 2018. Striving for better service and pursuing excellence in library and technology services is a crucial part of the Information Services culture.

While services remain important, faculty and students rated the importance of the library’s collections very highly for attaining research and teaching goals. 79 percent of faculty said “technology used in courses and classrooms” greatly contributes to teaching. 61 percent said the “physical and digital library collections” greatly contributes. 50 percent said “working with librarians” greatly contributes and 43 percent said “working with technology professionals” greatly contributes. 87 percent of students said “technology used in courses and classrooms” contributed greatly or moderately to achieving their academic goals. 82 percent of students said the “physical and digital library collections” contributed greatly or moderately to achieving their academic goals.



MISO found that the majority of students never backup their data. 37.9 percent of students said they never back up their data. 33.7 percent of students said they backup data once or twice a semester. 18.6 percent of students said they backup data one to three times a month. 7.3 percent of students said they backup data one to three times a week. 2.4 percent of students said they backup data more than three times a week. This information provides an opportunity to educate students about the importance of backing up their data and the help and hardware that can be found at the Information Services IT Services Desk.


Satisfaction ratings have improved from 2016-2018 for “wireless access on campus,”  “availability of wireless access on campus,” and CamelWeb across all groups surveyed. Maintaining consistent and accessible wireless services on campus, and making CamelWeb more accessible and user-friendly is a priority for Information Services staff.

Survey results are a good way to analytically measure satisfaction of services. But how do we measure the patience and care that reference librarians ensure is a part of every research appointment at the reference desk? How do we paint a picture of the friendly smile of the student in IT Services who answers each question expertly. How do we gauge the impact of providing innovative learning spaces, addressing research anxiety, and new ways to highlight student and faculty research with digital platforms? “Value isn’t just about quantitative measures but also subjective activities that are hard to measure.” Taylor and Francis Surveys statistics narrative. The MISO 2018 survey results show that a short term goal such as excellent customer service inevitably leads to long term objectives such as retention and community engagement.

Stashing Your Stuff, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love RefWorks (with apologies to Stanley Kubrick…)

Every day at the Reference Desk we are exposed to what some people might uncharitably call student disorganization: laptops with 80 pdfs on the desktop, or browsers with 25 tabs open to different papers. Students scramble through these messes as they talk to us. But in fairness, it is not dissimilar to desks piled high with physical papers and books. (Where oh where did I put that paper by Professor Jennifer Smith?)

The truth is that the acts of collecting and then FINDING all the “stuff” we MIGHT be using in a particular research project, create age-old problems. Some might argue that if the stuff is in print, stacks and files can be created that help organize it. But, honestly, those stacks and files often do not get created. And are they really any different than students creating folders on their laptops to dump stuff into?

Another truth is that what appears to be disorganization is often part of the evolution of a person’s thought process. Searching through pages, triangulating on ideas, sifting back and forth – those are intellectual activities that can be part of the development of new ideas and the finding of new directions. Real organization of our stuff takes place when our thinking has evolved to the point that we know what our questions are and where we might be taking our ideas.

Photo by Mr Cup / Fabien Barral on Unsplash

We all know that programs such as RefWorks can make the creation of correctly formatted footnotes/endnotes/in-text citations and bibliographies much easier. It’s a better software to use than EasyBib (which many students use before coming to college), although it lacks the sophistication of EndNote or Zotero, which many people on the graduate level and above use. For most projects RefWorks works well, and students can save and transport their materials anywhere, and, if they wish, eventually move their citations to one of the more sophisticated systems. A vast majority of colleges and universities offer access to RefWorks. (For a more detailed description of using RefWorks, go to Andrew Lopez’s post on this blog.

But it is easy to get hung up on this formal use of RefWorks for producing the footnotes/endnotes/bibliographies etc. for research papers and projects. The truth is, it can have equal value as being a storage and organizational tool for the things we collect for research projects. Like clearing stacks of paper and books off of our physical desks, it can clear the top of our virtual desktops.


If you are a student who prefers to read digitally and never have stacks of paper, consider whether your virtual desktop is as messy as your friend’s or professor’s physical desk.

If you are a faculty member, you can help simplify many students’ lives by suggesting that they use this organizational tool. You might even (if you don’t already use a citation manager) consider signing up for it yourself. It is robust enough to handle many publication projects.

So, think about stashing your stuff. Finding things will be easier, and recycling is never a problem.

Sign up here. If you have questions when you are using it, come to Reference and ask for help.

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