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Shields Library Main Reading Room in Fall 2020

Fall 2020 Library User Survey Results

Public health and safety measures to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19, as well as the reduced student population on campus, have led to some notable changes to how the UC Davis Library is operating this academic year. During the first week of November, we invited those who have been using Shields Library since it reopened in late September to give us feedback on how well the library is meeting their needs. Here is a snapshot of what we heard. 

Who is visiting the library?

  • 95% of survey respondents identified themselves as students (83% as undergraduates; 12% as graduate students), with the remaining 5% identifying as faculty or campus staff. This distribution is consistent with the typical user population (in non-COVID times, visitors to Shields are 93% students; 86% undergrads and 7% grad students).

  • Two-thirds (62%) of survey respondents live off-campus, mostly in the city of Davis. One in four (26%) live on campus in residence halls, and one in eight (12%) live in on-campus apartments.

Chart showing who visited the library in Fall 2020 (students/faculty/staff)
Chart showing where Fall 2020 library visitors live

How great is the need?

While overall numbers of people coming to Shields remain low compared with non-COVID times (about 400 per day, or 8% of normal), the survey results suggest that for those who do use it, the library remains an important “third space,” particularly to do coursework.

Chart showing frequency of library user visits during Fall 2020

42% of respondents report coming to the library multiple times per week, and another 26% come about once a week.Three-quarters of respondents typically stay for at least two hours when they come to the library (69% for 2-4 hours, and another 15% for 5 hours or longer).

  • Two-thirds (67%) reported coming to the library because they needed a change of scene. 30% said they do not have another place to study or that the space they have is inadequate, with the most common reasons being that where they live is too distracting, crowded, noisy, or has unreliable wi-fi. (This question invited respondents to check all that apply.)
  • While at the library, the vast majority said they did course-related work — studying or working on class assignments (78%), logging into online classes (50%) or taking a test or exam (23%). People also used the printer (23%), checked out books or other library materials (19%), or used the internet for reasons unrelated to coursework (17%). (This question invited respondents to check all that apply.)
  • Chart showing reasons for visiting the library in Fall 2020

    Chart showing what visitors did while at the library in Fall 2020

    When are people coming to the library?

    • 99% visit on weekdays; 47% visit on weekends, as well. The remaining 1% visit on weekends only.

    • Half (49%) report that they come to the library at various times of day; a third (32%) usually come in the afternoon; 12% usually come in the morning and 6% usually come in the evening.

    • 60% say the library’s current hours are meeting their needs. Among those who indicated that the current hours are not meeting their needs, about 10% of respondents requested that the 24-Hour Study Room be reopened.

    If you have questions about the survey, please contact us at