SPEC Kit 308: Graduate Student and Faculty Spaces and Services · 11
Executive Summary
Recently, ARL libraries have begun to experiment
with an enriched set of spaces and services to meet
the complex teaching, learning, and research needs of
graduate students and faculty. Some libraries have in-
troduced small sanctuaries (study rooms or lounges)
for graduate students and faculty as distinctly sepa-
rate from undergraduate spaces. Others are provid-
ing new suites of services like dissertation support,
curriculum design, and learning object design. In
some cases, the services are offered in collabora-
tion with other campus units—perhaps the Faculty
Development Office, the Learning Technology Office,
or Campus Computing. The new services and spaces
may be localized in a discrete area (sometimes called
a “Research Commons” or “Faculty Commons”) or
opportunistically distributed across the library sys-
The Survey on Graduate Student and Faculty
Spaces and Services was conducted to explore the
variety of resources and services being delivered to
or envisioned for this unique population. The survey
was distributed via the Web to the 123 ARL mem-
ber libraries in March 2008. Sixty-five libraries (six
Canadian and 59 American) completed the survey
by the deadline of April 28 for a 53% response rate.
Of these respondents, 48 institutions (74%) indicated
that they provide or plan to provide services or spaces
specifically designed for the designated populations.
Most are providing or designing spaces/services
to meet the needs of both groups, with only seven
reporting services/spaces exclusively for graduate
students and two locations committed to providing
service/space exclusively to faculty. Thirteen of 47
respondents (28%) target discipline-specific gradu-
ate students eight (17%) of these also target a specific
group of faculty. In most cases, the targeted groups
tend to be in humanities or social sciences.
Developing Graduate Student and/or Faculty
Spaces and Services
The ARL libraries responding to the survey reported
a wide variety of reasons for introducing services or
spaces for these targeted populations. The single big-
gest motivator was requests from graduate students,
reported by 33 institutions (69%), while 25 (52%) re-
ported being influenced by a building renovation or
reorganization. Requests from faculty were reported
as key factors by 23 respondents (48%), while an equal
number reported being persuaded by results of a
strategic planning process. Twenty-one libraries re-
ported being influenced by recommendations from
library staff.
Respondents employ a wide variety of instru-
ments to gather information about the spaces or ser-
vices needed—but most reported a reliance on an-
ecdotal feedback. For example, 34 of 43 respondents
(79%) reported using informal commentary as part of
their decision-making process. Only 20 institutions
employed focus groups and only 19 (44%) conducted
survey(s) or field observations. Field observations are
most frequently used to gather input from library
staff, and focus groups and surveys when consult-
ing with faculty or student representatives. Few
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