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Affective relationships between users & libraries in times of economic stress

Affective relationships between users & libraries in times of economic stress

Academic libraries are considered as key factors in the educational system of a country and strong pylons for the economic and societal development. During the current economic recession, libraries have been struck by severe budget cuts that have forced them to shrink and to reconsider services to the end users. Important questions that have been raised in countries, such as Greece, which has been in the eye storm of the economic downturn and has witnessed severe societal changes, include how libraries respond to this change of conditions, how they improve their service level and how they minimize user dissatisfaction. Moreover, one of the key questions is what is the range of substantial or symbolic interventions that can improve users’ affective relationship with the libraries? The study aimed to measure the opinion of academic libraries users on four main criteria categories, namely cost, space and atmosphere, personnel behavior, and facilitation of collaborative work, and to reflect the level of affective relationship of users with their libraries. The study provides representative findings from all Greek academic libraries and shows that libraries are considered as spaces that facilitate pleasant reading and studying, as well as efficient collaborative work. Library users are in overall satisfied by the personnel behavior and productivity, but they also believe that there are margins for further improvement of its knowledge, while they think that the cost of services should be revised and echo the current situation. The findings of the study can assist library administrators to define the range of interventions and to prioritize them in a period of limited resources.



Giannis Tsakonas

June 22, 2013


  1. Affective relationships between users & libraries in times of economic

    stress Aggeliki Giannopoulou & Giannis Tsakonas Library & Information Center, University of Patras, Greece 10th Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services
  2. Aim & scope of research • The aim of this

    study is to identify the critical parameters that govern the affective relationships between academic libraries and users. • The context of these parameters is an asphyxiating one: • the Greek academic libraries context in the era of austere fiscal measures. • We use the S.O.R. (Stimulus / Organism / Response) framework to identify these parameters and their perceived importance. • It is probably the first time S.O.R. has been implemented in the Greek academic libraries.
  3. Background - Library assessment views • Library assessment is considered

    the set of processes through which someone assigns value to a given unit on a given time point. • Ideally, we want this to be standardized, iterative and comparable. • Inevitably, this leads to system-centered or system-generated statistics, whereas user-centered are prone to context dependence (increased subjectivity).
  4. Background - Nation-wide efforts in Greece • There are few

    nation-wide systematic surveys; mainly between formal bodies. • The Total Quality Management Unit (MOPAB) is the body that annually collects academic libraries’ statistics. MOPAB focuses on collections growth, personnel figures, usage, book price rates, etc. • The Hellenic Statistical Authority biannually collects data on the same areas. • Otherwise, there have been recorded many scarce user surveys, but with limited coverage and effect. • The challenge was to develop a valid methodology to survey users on a national level.
  5. Exploring affective relationships • Much of the work in library

    evaluation has been focused on user satisfaction and preferences. Yet, not much on ‘feelings’. • Feelings, the emotional states which someone experiences, can shape the user experience in the library. • Implicitly they form affective relationships that are altered in times of stress. • Users work in extreme conditions; seeking for security, understanding, comfort, warmness, etc. • State structures are shielding vulnerable classes of users. However they are also approached with ‘prejudice’. • Users want motivational spaces; seeking for confidence, excitement, willingness, etc.
  6. Setting

  7. Research setting - Sample & instrument • Sample • 950

    registered users of academic libraries (target: 1000 questionnaires) • Quota sampling • Period: April - July 2012 • Instrument • Questionnaire of total 210 variables • five (5) scale Likert, together with dichotomous nominal • Pilot: 30 users of LIC, UoPatras; reliability: Cronbach α >0,7
  8. Library Population Questionnaires ASFA 1.600 6 AUTH 41.930 165 Agricultural

    U. 4.229 17 Demokriteio 12.390 49 International Hellenic 470 2 Uo Athens 11.169 44 NTUA 15.149 60 Ionion U. 5.433 21 Economic & Business 12.903 51 Aegean U. 9.943 39 Uo Western Macedonia 3.000 12 Uo Thessaly 20.677 31 Uo Ioannina 12.699 50 Uo Crete 16.237 65 Uo Macedonia 10.797 42 Uo Patras 25.033 99 Uo Peiraeus 22.808 90 Uo Central Greece 312 2 Panteion U. 18.014 71 Crete Polytechnic U. 6.958 27 Harokopeion U. 1.734 7 TOTAL 253.485 950
  9. Research setting - The S.O.R. framework • The Stimulus /

    Organism / Response framework is a model for exploring customer behavior. It has been widely used in retail/online market, business management, tourism, etc. • The model empowers the ‘customer’ to act as an catalyst that processes environmental stimuli to effects, emotional and/or cognitive. • The model has been also used for predictive purposes, taking benefit of the sequential characteristics. • In this setting, S.O.R. has been used for exploratory purposes; to model and interpret the critical variables that shape the affective relationships between users and libraries.
  10. Research setting - The S.O.R. framework STIMULI ambient cues design

    cues social cues economic cues ORGANISM cognition > emotions < RESPONSE satisfaction: approach dissatisfaction: avoidance personal & situational moderators
  11. Results

  12. Results - Demographics: personal age 50% 50% Male Female gender

  13. Results - Demographics: situational 5% 23% 3% 69% Faculty member

    Post-graduate student External user Graduate student role usage 89,5 87,5 80,1 76,3 75,6 66,6 66,5 54,5 52,6 49,4 39,5 38,3 38,2 30,4 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Untitled 1 Website Reading rooms Circulation Printed Books User Support PC Lab Web OPAC OPAC Workstations Copying E-Journals E-Learning system Printed Journals Databases E-Books 30%> ILL 26.9, Room for individual study 23.2, IR 22.4, Digital collections 20.3, ILL system 10.9, User instruction 9.3, ECD 6.6, AV Lab 3.9
  14. Results - Cues AMBIENCE • lighting 3.86 • conditioning 3.40

    • sound 3.34 DESIGN • signage 3.66 • decoration 3.61 • coloring 3.51 ECONOMIC • fines 3.22 • copying fee 2.95 • printing fee 2.85 SOCIAL • willingness 4.00 • kindness 3.98 • knowledge 3.94 • trust 3.86 • understanding 3.80 • care 3.75 • attention 3.75 • responsiveness 3.72 • competence 3.71
  15. Results - Emotions 3,72 3,71 3,66 3,58 3,49 3,42 3,29

    3,09 0,0 0,5 1,0 1,5 2,0 2,5 3,0 3,5 4,0
  16. Results - Emotions by gender

  17. Results - Emotions by age

  18. Results - Emotions by role

  19. Results - Emotions by year of study

  20. Results - Satisfaction

  21. Discussion

  22. Discussion – Methodological key points • Factor analysis confirmed the

    four groupings of cues. • No significant differences were found between the various status categories with the exception of Safety. In academic years, differences were found to be statistically significant for Safety, Willingness and Confidence. • Homogeneity of variations were found mostly insignificant. • The age and the emotions have a weakly positive correlation, while the correlation of the year of study and the emotions is a weakly negative one.
  23. Discussion • Our study’s impetus was internal; we argue that

    such topics are difficult to be treated by external bodies. • The users seem to prefer features that have immediate effect to their daily interaction. • An ideal service? A fathoming environment that facilitates reading and cooperation with friendly and willing personnel and affordable fees and fine rates.
  24. Discussion - Work to be done • The study highlighted

    the features that shape an affective relationship between the users and the library. • It remains to explore: • If and how they interact together. • If they are drivers to social or systemic interactions.
  25. Thank you for your attention! Questions? contact us at agianop@upatras.gr