Skip to main content


The University Libraries’ User Experience team developed a survey to examine patrons’ perceptions of each library building’s name and services. The survey was distributed on the University Libraries’ website homepage during the summer of 2021. Improvements suggested by this survey were in two major categories: proposed changes to the URL structure of buildings’ webpages and increased clarity on which services are housed in which buildings.


This project arose from a desire to learn how patrons refer to the Libraries’ physical buildings. This topic was especially pertinent in the summer of 2021, as there had not been consistent in-person classes at UNC-Chapel Hill since March 2020- a change that may have affected how patrons perceive the buildings and services.

We developed a Qualtrics survey to collect data remotely. The survey showed two photos of each library building: one of the exterior and one of the interior. Any written building labels were edited out.

Survey sample with two photos of Wilson Library and the questions "What do you call this library?" and "Which services were available in this library building prior to COVID-19?"
Figure 1: Survey sample with photos of Wilson Library (click to enlarge)

Based on the photos in the questions, participants were asked what name they use to refer to that building and then to select which services are available in that building. Participants could choose between these options for services:

  • Study spaces
  • Private study rooms
  • Research consultations
  • Makerspace
  • Research Hub
  • Equipment to borrow
  • Books to check out
  • Picking up books on hold
  • IT support
  • Special Collections
  • Other (option to add a response)

We distributed the survey via a pop-up on the Libraries’ homepage from May 17-31, 2021, during which time we received 351 unique responses. Visitors to during that period in May would see a pop-up window that allowed them to take the survey if they chose to.


We gathered responses from 351 participants, 44 of whom were UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduate students, 167 were graduate students, and 62 were faculty. We also received responses from 45 UNC-Chapel Hill employees, 36 Libraries staff, 20 alumni, and 15 borrower’s card holders.

Respondents overwhelmingly associate study spaces and physical books with all library buildings on campus. Services that frequently showed incorrect responses were Special Collections (respondents incorrectly believe they are house in Sloan Art Library and in the Music Library), and the Makerspace (many respondents incorrectly place it in Davis Library).

Davis Library was referred to with “Davis” in the title 98% of the time. Similarly, Wilson Library was referred to with “Wilson” in the title in 84% of responses, and the Health Sciences Library referred to as “HSL” or “Health Science Library” 78% of the time. Library buildings that were referred to with a range of names are described in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Libraries and What Participants Called Them

Library Most Common Participant Answers
Sloane Art Library
  • 55% said “Art Library”
  • 19% said “Sloane”
  • 6% said “HSL”
  • 6% said “Hanes Art Library”
Kenan Science Library
  • 35% said “Kenan” or “Kenan Science Library”
  • 28% said “Science Library”
  • 18% said “HSL” or “Health Sciences Library”
SILS Library
  • 54% said “SILS” or “SILS Library”
  • 13% said “Library Science Library”
  • 6% said “Children’s Library”
  • 5% said “Journalism Library”
Music Library
  • 79% said “Music” or “Music Library”
  • 5% said “Davis Library”
  • 4% said “Science Annex”
Stone Center Library
  • 31% said “Stone” or “Stone Center”
  • 31% said “Davis” or “Davis Library”
  • 18% said “HSL”

Certain buildings were associated with services that we did not ask about, if participants used the “Other” option and added a response. Those typed-in services were children’s books (which were associated with the SILS Library) and vinyl checkouts (associated with the Music Library). When responding to library branch service questions, participants also frequently mentioned printers and scanners. All these results could imply that patrons may not know where to find certain library services.

Areas for Further Research

We suggest further testing to see if changes to the URL structure of buildings’ webpages would promote better name recognition for the buildings and their services. Specifically, we recommend testing a change from to either or, since those represent most ways that patrons refer to that building. These changes would help maintain consistency, since we already have and as examples of a website branches that specify the library types rather than the buildings’ names.

Lessons Learned

We did not reach our goal number of undergraduate participants for this study since we released the survey over the summer months. This shortcoming reinforces the value of performing surveys during semesters, when undergraduates are more likely to access the Libraries’ website.

Comments are closed.