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We last ran our LibQUAL library survey during November 2018.

Our comments below were last updated in February 2020.

We are looking at other survey methods to use in the future.

We received over 2000 valid completed surveys and analysed more than 900 comments from which we developed the action plan below. We also posted some responses to specific comments on our feedback page.

If you have any more ideas on how we can improve our library services, please let us know.

Library space

Size and design of Cambridge library

What You Said
I think the Cambridge library needs a new look. The layout could be better, with more inviting study spaces.

The library has undergone some reconstruction which makes the space feel bigger downstairs but overall I don't think the space is utilised as effectively as it could be. I feel the space could be more catered to student needs and learning styles instead of the standard 'chair and desk' style - maybe some high benches, some comfortable seating?

The general feel and technological facilities need improving, the first floor and second floor (first in particular) really need modernising to make it feel like an engaging environment which really encourages study and learning through comfort.

I think the library needs redesigning/ improving in appearance, as it's quite dark and uninspiring.
I think it would be nice if the levels above the reception were 'done up' as it currently stands they are not very inviting and lack the atmosphere I would find conducive to working.

Would really appreciate more comfortable places to study and a less 'industrial' atmosphere. The library is a great resource but it's soulless. It is not an inspiring place to work.
What We've Done
Thank you for your insightful comments - we are really keen to develop our Cambridge library into a more inspiring space for our students and other users. Our university is currently developing a new estates masterplan, and we're hoping that this will include a new library building. As this progresses we'll involve our library users as much as we can in decision-making so that we can make sure it meets the needs of our current and future students and staff.

Our colleagues in the Estates and Facilities team have also arranged some surveys (in February 2019) which looked at the current condition of our buildings across our campuses and consider what needs to happen to improve them. We've shared your comments which they'll use in compiling their reports and recommendations to the university.

Availability of space

What You Said
Need more study room spaces.

I would love for there to be more study rooms available to book for group work.
What We've Done
We've created an additional study room in Cambridge by reducing our staff offices. This means that we've increased the number of study rooms at Cambridge by 25% this year.

We've also reduced staff spaces in Chelmsford and created a new silent study space on the second floor, in response to demand for individual silent spaces.

Cleanliness of library

What You Said
The library is a great place to work, but some mornings I find the desks are in need of a good clean to remove dirt and stickiness (no doubt left by hardworking students).

The working environment can be somewhat distressed and untidy with food and drink containers.
What We've Done
Our colleagues in the Estates and Facilities team manage the daily cleaning of our libraries (including at weekends). In addition they provide extra cleaning during our busiest periods, and organise 'deep cleans' in the summer period in discussion with library staff. Our staff can also request one-off cleaning (eg for spillages), so please report any problems to the library helpdesk.

Temperature in the libraries

What You Said
The temperature in the library is not always good. Sometimes I am freezing and other times I am boiling. Not sure what the issue is but it is frustrating sometimes when you are trying to work. Otherwise, overall I use the library a lot and its a good place for me to study!

Sometimes air conditioner can be too strong, specially now that winter is coming it can get too cold sometimes and depending on the floor sometimes is too hot, so I think keep at a good temperature. Not too hot or cold.
What We've Done
Our colleagues in the Estates and Facilities team have been using sensors across both Cambridge and Chelmsford libraries to monitor air temperature. By April the data should have been analysed and a report available with recommendations on how the ventilation and temperature in both buildings can be improved.

Comfort of spaces in Chelmsford

What You Said
The chairs in the library are extremely uncomfortable and make it difficult when you want to spend time studying in there.

It would be great if there were more comfy chairs and seating areas in the Library.
What We've Done
During the spring 2019 we carried out some research into the most popular chairs in Cambridge and Chelmsford. As we've needed to buy replacements we've been buying more of these and phasing out the less popular ones.

Comfort of spaces in Cambridge

What You Said
I bring my own computer to the library to work and there are never enough purple chairs available. I don't find the green chairs comfortable for working.

Please replace the green chairs!
What We've Done
During the spring 2019 we carried out some research into the most popular chairs in Cambridge and Chelmsford. As we've needed to buy replacements we've been buying more of these and phasing out the less popular ones (ie the green ones in Cambridge!).

Noise in our libraries

What You Said
Floors 1 and 2 where whispering is allowed people actually talk and floor 3 people whisper. This can become really demotivating for working in the library.

There should be more signs around the silent zone about 'text a talker'. There are none where the computers are and last week, someone was on their phone on the silent zone.
What We've Done
Last trimester we refreshed our signage and displays and tried to raise awareness of our 'text-a-talker' service where library users can alert us to any disturbances in the library spaces.

Eating in the libraries

What You Said
We would prefer a space where food can be consumed (snacks etc, not messy food), for example on the ground floor, and some extra bins would mean not too much of a mess.

In the library, it would be nice if you could eat on the ground floor. Even if it's just crisps or a sandwich - not hot foods.
What We've Done
During spring 2019, library staff at all three sites carried out research into eating in our libraries. They observed what our library users currently do and canvassed opinions in various ways, such as using whiteboards for comments and interviewing lots of people. As a result we're currently allowing cold snacks to be eaten on the ground floors in Cambridge and Chelmsford, as a pilot. Let us know what you think.

Opening hours

What You Said
Saturday is a preferred day for me to work early, having access to the library early hours would be beneficial to me and a few friends too. Or staying Friday past midnight to get a few hours extra to study in the facility.

We need the library to open from 8.00 am either term weeks or not.
What We've Done
We carried out a thorough review of our building hours and staffed service hours based on your feedback and usage, and taking into account changes to the academic calendar in 2019-20. Our planned hours are now available. We haven't been able to extend hours to meet these specific requests this year.

Library website and search

Login problems

What You Said

Online login from off-library access could be a lot, lot easier.

The logging in process is arduous as you often have to log in multiple times before being able to access anything.
What We've Done

We know that login processes can be annoying, especially when you're working at home. We'll be reviewing whether we can work with our colleagues in IT Services to streamline what happens. We're also reviewing the guidance and support we provide to help you access what you need more easily when you're not on campus.

Problems with library search

What You Said

I am over all happy with the service provided however there are some times when I want to access a document through the library website but it says that the electronic text is unavailable.

The online library system could be more efficient and dynamic in finding relevant resources.
What We've Done

We have a group of staff in the library who meet regularly to identify issues and challenges and prioritise what we should be working on. They're planning to make a couple of improvements to library search by January 2020, which we hope will make your search experience more efficient and effective. We're also currently reviewing how we update you on temporary access issues with certain electronic resources.

Difficulty in using library search

What You Said

Users need more information about how to navigate the online library research page.

Sometimes I struggle using the library online, however staff have guided me to help my understanding.
What We've Done

Based on your feedback, we have started to make a couple of improvements to library search, including a functionality that recommends resources to you based on the search terms that you've entered.

We're planning to make further improvements to library search by January 2020, which will hopefully help you find what you need more easily.


Key texts in the library

What You Said

Not enough physical copies of core texts. Not enough core text resources online.

I would like ebook version for all core texts.
What We've Done

We're planning to provide you with access to your own key e-textbook from September 2019, the title of which will be agreed with your module leader. This will be introduced for all level 4 students for each module undertaken.

Students at level 5 and above still have access to Books Plus for purchasing key texts.

Not enough e-books

What You Said

Access to a wider range of resources online, especially the books that the library already physically possess.

Missing a lot of e books relevant to my topics.
What We've Done

We've introduced a new way that you can influence which books we purchase - you click, we buy! By accessing a title on Library Search you'll trigger an automatic purchase so it's then available to other users too.

Books not on the shelves

What You Said

Sometimes I can't find the books on the shelves they are shown online. Maybe it's better to check the position regularly?

I find it difficult to find book on the shelves.
What We've Done

Our staff are doing some more research with library users to understand the challenges faced with finding books in our libraries.

We do have shelving staff who also check the shelves to find items that are out of place, and we audit our collections on a rotating basis every three years - we'll be focusing on Peterborough this summer. We'll also carry out our usual 'shelf tidy' in all our libraries this year, checking that books on the shelves are in the right places.

Old books on the shelves

What You Said

To have more physical books relating to children and adolescents mental health that are less than 5 years old.

Sometimes it's impossible to find a new edition of the book in library collection.
What We've Done

We've checked the specific subject areas some of you mentioned and taken action to ensure our materials are up-to-date.
We'll review our procedures to make sure that old editions are removed (except when we keep them for a particular reason).

You may find that newer editions of books are purchased as e-books, so do check Library Search for what you're looking for.

Borrowing for Cambridge Ruskin International College students

What You Said

Students that came from CRIC and are in their first year should be allowed to borrow as much books they want.

It is extremely unfair and inconvenient that cric students are no longer able to access the laptops.
What We've Done

From September 2019, students at CRIC will automatically have the same borrowing privileges as other 'core' students, including laptop loans and 35 book loans.


More laptops

What You Said

The laptops are a great idea but we need so many more!

More computers to borrow at Chelmsford campus.
What We've Done

If we can identify funding we'll increase the number of laptops in Cambridge and Chelmsford as we know they're really popular at busy times. For now, all laptops are going to be replaced with new devices so you should find they're faster and have better battery life.

More PCs, especially in Cambridge

What You Said

I would like to have more computers in the library because during peak time most of the computers are occupied easily.

You need more computers for the amount of students.
What We've Done

Since the time of the survey the first floor open access area in Lord Ashcroft has fully reopened, and the extra area in Webb is still available. Just ask in the library if you're not sure where these buildings are.

Remember you can check for PC Availability first.

PC monitors

What You Said

I would like there to be more of the larger size computer monitors in the quiet areas.

Bigger screens needed.
What We've Done

Colleagues in IT Services have advised us that the majority of monitors are now 24" (previously 21.5") and larger monitors will continue to be installed to other devices.

Slow network

What You Said

Lack of internet in some parts of the library on my own laptop.

My one gripe is the slowness of the computers in the library and break out rooms.
What We've Done

IT Services would really appreciate it if you let them know when this is the case, so they can diagnose and fix the problem - contact them at

Out of order or dirty equipment

What You Said

Check and repair PCs accessories etc as some of them don't work properly.

Some computers on the second floor are not working and missing computer mice.
What We've Done

The team in IT Services now check equipment three times a week and replace anything that isn't working. They also request cleaning when it's needed, and arrange full cleans of the equipment twice a year. You can report any problems to them at

Specialist software not available widely

What You Said

It would be nice to have a mac area with both mac & windows pcs having access to specialist software needed for courses.

Please install programs like Unity, Unreal Engine, Visual Studio, and other game development software on the library computers. I'm aware that Compass House has these features but it's not 24hr, which is vital to me as I complete most of my work during the night time and early hours.
What We've Done

Our Subject Librarians are working with faculty colleagues and IT Services to identify what is needed and how best it can be provided. We're aware of extended opening hours being trialled at Compass House in Cambridge which should help with some of these problems.

Number of printers

What You Said

Additional print facilities available around campus would be helpful (or knowledge of where they can be found).

It would be nice to have more printers - sometimes it's very busy and difficult to print!
What We've Done

Anglia Ruskin Print Services (ARPS) are in the process of implementing a new print management system which will allow them to monitor demand much more easily. As a result they will look at relocating underused printers, and whether more are required.

Printing problems

What You Said

If the printer has issues and not able to print the amount of money needs to be reimbursed to student.

The paper in the printers is of a very low quality for the cost. It is better to go to digital copying services. Where it is cheaper for colour and a greater quality.
What We've Done

Some of you commented on problems which meant you were charged for printing when a printer wasn't working properly. The new print management system which ARPS are implementing will ensure this doesn't happen in future.

We also had a few comments that paper quality in the printers wasn't as good as that provided in the ARPS print room. In future the default paper across both will be the same, and the new pricing model will rationalise the printing between printers in the libraries and open access areas and the print room service.


Security staff in Cambridge

What You Said

The library security need to improve on service skills.

Sometimes the library is let down by the service given by the library staff at the gate of the library.
What We've Done

Some of our security staff at Cambridge will be receiving training in response to a few comments we received.

Library staff

What You Said

Library staff are the best! Always there to help and guide.

Library staff are excellent, helpful people with the skills to problem solve/find answers, and the desire to match students up with the skills/resources they need.
What We've Done

Your comments have been overwhelmingly positive about the friendliness and helpfulness of our library team, and the difference they've made to your experience of our university - thank you for telling us; it makes us happy to know we're doing the right thing (though we can always improve!).