Commentator Library Survey: A Comprehensive Analysis
Editor’s Note: For the purposes of this article, “satisfied” refers to students who indicated that they are either “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied,” and “dissatisfied” refers to students who indicated that they are either “dissatisfied” or “extremely dissatisfied.” Likewise, “comfortable” refers to students who indicated that they are either “comfortable” or “extremely comfortable,” and “uncomfortable” refers to students who indicated that they are either “uncomfortable” or “extremely uncomfortable.”
The Commentator recently conducted a survey on a variety of issues relating to experiences of students in YU’s two libraries on the undergraduate campuses, the Mendel Gottesman Library on the Wilf Campus and the Hedi Steinberg Library on the Beren Campus. This article presents a detailed breakdown of the results.
Overall, the survey of the YU libraries polled 309 undergraduate YU students, or 16% of the total undergraduate student body on the Wilf and Beren campuses.
137 respondents (44%) are Yeshiva College (YC) students, 95 (31%) are Stern College for Women (SCW) students, 57 (18%) are male Sy Syms School of Business (Syms-Men) students, 18 (6%) are female Sy Syms School of Business (Syms-Women) students and 2 (1%) are Katz School students.
102 respondents (33%) are in their first year on campus, 92 (30%) in their second year, 84 (27%) in their third year and 31 (10%) in their fourth year or beyond.
Of the male respondents, 126 (65%) attend the Mazer Yeshiva Program (MYP), 32 (17%) attend the Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program (SBMP), 29 (15%) attend the Isaac Breuer School (IBC) and 6 (3%) attend the James Striar School (JSS).
Specific conclusions were not drawn from the results of some groups in YU with a low sample size, such as respondents from Syms-Women, Katz School, SBMP, IBC and JSS.
Both men and women are generally comfortable with students of the opposite gender studying in the library on their respective campus. 65% of men feel comfortable and 17% feel neither comfortable nor uncomfortable with women studying in the uptown library. Last year’s Commentator Spring Survey also found that 65% of men feel comfortable with women studying in the uptown library. This year, 56% of MYP students expressed comfortability with women in the uptown library and 23% feel neither comfortable nor uncomfortable. 69% of YC students feel comfortable and 15% feel neither comfortable nor uncomfortable with women studying in the uptown library; 56% Syms-Men feel comfortable and 33% feel neither comfortable nor uncomfortable.
Women generally feel comfortable with men studying in the Hedi Steinberg Library. 54% of women feel comfortable with men studying in the downtown library and 31% feel neither comfortable nor uncomfortable. Last year, 81% of women indicated that they were comfortable with men studying in the library on the Beren Campus.
21% of men see women in the library as distractions to their studying. 18% of YC students see women as distractions, compared with 28% of respondents from Syms-Men. 27% of MYP students saw women as distractions. Only 5% of women saw men in the library as distractions to their studying.
46% of women expressed that they have avoided studying in the uptown library due to the fear of being objectified. 39% of female first-year students have avoided studying in the uptown library due to fear of objectification compared to 49% of second, third and fourth-year students.
Overall, 92% of students believe that men generally use the uptown library to study, compared to 82% who believe the same about women. When broken down by gender, 93% of men and 91% of women believe that men generally use the uptown library to study. 79% of men and 89% of women believe that women generally use the uptown library to study. Compared to 83% of YC students, 70% of Syms-Men students believe that women generally visit the uptown library to study.
63% of students frequently use the Wilf library to study alone, 51% to use library printers, 25% to study in groups, 21% to socialize, 11% to use library computers and 6% to take out a book. 79% of men say they frequently visit the Wilf library to study alone compared to 29% of women who say similarly. Compared to 22% of men, 19% of women frequently visit the Wilf library to socialize.
47% of all undergraduates visit the Wilf library at least a few times per week, while 30% visit once a month or less. While 72% of men visit the Wilf library at least a few times per week, only 5% of women do so. 70% of women visit the Wilf library once a month or less, with 28% saying that they never visited the Wilf library.
The most frequently visited floor in the Wilf library is the 4th floor, with 28% of respondents frequently visiting it. The least frequently visited floor is 5a, with only 11% frequently studying there. 33% of men frequently study on floor 4. Floor 2a is the most frequently visited floor by women, with 16% of women saying they frequently study there and 16% saying they visit floor 2a neither frequently nor infrequently.
Students were generally satisfied with library services provided in the Wilf library. 85% of students expressed overall satisfaction. 73% are satisfied with the conduciveness for study in the Wilf library. Only 6% and 5% of students expressed dissatisfaction with the Wilf library computers and printers, respectively. 92% of men expressed overall satisfaction with the Wilf library compared with 70% of women. 78% of men are satisfied with the conduciveness for study in the Wilf library compared with 64% of women who thought similarly.
Overall, 16% of undergraduates visit the Beren library at least a few times per week, while 74% visit once a month or less. 60% of students never visit the Beren library. While 53% of women visit the Beren library at least once a week, only 2% of men do so. 90% of men have never visited the Beren library.
The most frequently visited floor in the Beren library is floor 2, with 33% of respondents frequently visiting it. 32% and 29% frequently visit the reserve library and the 1st floor, respectively.
51% of students expressed overall satisfaction with the Beren library. 59% were satisfied with the conduciveness for study. 20% and 25% of students were dissatisfied with the library computers and printers, respectively.
54% of students frequently use the Beren library to study alone, 43% to use library printers, 16% to study in groups, 4% to socialize, 10% to use library computers and 8% to take out a book.
Around half, 51%, of students have taken a book out of a YU library. 68% of YC students, 42% of SCW students and 30% of Syms-Men say they have taken a book out. Only 13% of students have used YU’s Interlibrary Loan Service. 15% of SCW students, 13% of YC students and 7% of Syms-Men have used the Interlibrary Loan Service.
We mostly followed the methodology of the surveys conducted last year by The Commentator.
As before, we reached out to students via ystud/sstud emails and posted flyers in both the Wilf and Beren libraries encouraging students to sign up for the survey, gathering a total of 357 interested undergraduate students. We conducted a raffle with a $75 Amazon gift card as the first place prize to motivate respondents. We also confirmed that respondents were current undergraduate students with YU’s Office of Student Life. Unlike last year, we did not send out emails to professors asking them to encourage students to sign up. The survey was conducted through SurveyMonkey. All responses were completely anonymous.
There were several confounding factors that could have skewed the results of the survey one way or the other. For example, while students in Syms-Men comprise 27% of the undergraduate student body, 18% of our respondents were from Syms-Men. Similarly, while students in SCW comprise 39% of the undergraduates, 31% of our survey was comprised of SCW students. YC students were overrepresented in our survey with 44% of respondents being students in YC, while only comprising 24% of the undergraduate student body.
Photo Caption: 46% of women expressed that they have avoided studying in the uptown library due to the fear of being objectified.
Photo Credit: The Commentator