They affect students in a variety of ways on a daily basis. So when it comes to how the libraries can better meet students’ needs, Dean Robert Fox thought it only made sense to ask the students directly.

During the spring semester, Fox put together a 12-member undergraduate student advisory board for University Libraries and also sent a campus-wide survey. In fact, reviewing the survey to make sure that students could understand the questions was one of the first tasks the advisory board had—but not its only one.

“Basically, the dean and other library faculty members pick our brains about what they are working on and how it might relate to students,” said advisory board member Justin Brandt, a junior political science major from Fort Thomas, Ky., and incoming SGA president.

Fox established a student advisory board when he was at Georgia Tech, so he knew the benefits it could bring to University Libraries. He isn’t stopping with the board, however.

“Student input is very important,” Fox said. “We won’t know if we are meeting student needs if we don’t have a continuous conversation with them about those needs. This student advisory board is just one aspect of our user engagement. We hope to create similar opportunities for graduate students and faculty as their needs tend to be very different from undergraduate students.”

University Libraries also hopes to “glean valuable information” from the user survey – the first it has conducted in six years, and is recruiting a new librarian whose primary role will be to engage user groups and then develop a rigorous assessment program to ensure the libraries are developing services and resources to meet their needs, Fox said.

“It means a lot that a relatively new dean has made such an effort to get student input,” Brandt said. “It is much more effective to simply ask what students want and need than to merely guess what that may be.”