Enrollment may be down, but Library numbers are up, up, up

I work at the University of Houston and most of the staff this year were disappointed to learn that our enrollment numbers were way down for the current semester. Classes started Monday, along with all the usual hubbub. Other librarians know what I am talking about: ridiculous amounts of printing (“but I need every power point ever created for my class, today, now, in print”), lines everywhere, that frantic look on the face of the student who has no idea where their next class is located (and it started 10 minutes ago), and the smell of students who have been wandering around campus looking for classes in near 100 degree heat. Ah, the smell of Fall in Texas. Beautiful.

Despite enrollment being down, I am pleased to say that out of roughly 32,000 students, over 11,500 of them came into th library on Monday and Tuesday. That is 11,500 on each day! Good for us. I think they are here for multiple reasons. Some of the reasons are good, some are not that great, but they are here in the building. Below are the reasons I think students are coming to our building:

  • It is hot outside and air conditioned in here. Did I mention the heat?
  • We have the largest number of computers in any one place on campus.
  • We have free printing, for a few more days anyway, and the students know it.
  • We let students eat in out library.
  • Our staff answer their questions. We often get students who have been sent to a couple different places to find the answer to a question that a phone call could have solved. We try to solve it or at least send them to the right person.
  • Students can manage their accounts with some IT staff who have set up house by our reference desk. I have only seen the line empty there one time, it was 7:40 at night, and it only stayed empty for about a minute.
  • If people have questions, we answer them. We do not send them elsewhere.
  • We have AC, remember.
  • There are a ton of study spaces, tables, nooks, and crannies where students can meet and relax.
  • We have stuff they want: computers and printers. OK, honestly, I did see students checking out a lot of books yesterday (even if they were the textbooks they should have been buying).
  • We try to help them. Did I mention that yet?
  • The moral is: I believe our students come to the library because we try our best to be helpful and we have stuff the students need. I think, biased though it may be, that our library gives better customer service then any other department or service office on campus and the students know that. Not that we are perfect, but it is nice to know that they like us enough to be here, in our building.

    –Jane, what does your library do that other groups do not for your users?