Noonsong has a discussion class on Zoom starting soon. Therefore, in order to participate in the class, she intends to reserve a seat in the "conversation zone" of the SMWU library where conversations and exchange of ideas for class participation can be had. However, the seats in the "conversation zone" were full, and only the seats in the "quiet zone" remained. The "quiet zone," in which she cannot make noise, was not suitable for her, so she hastily started looking for an empty space in the school where she could have a discussion. After finding the right place, Noonsong began to wish that there were more conversation zones.
Services in place
SMWU Library is a complex cultural space and digital library with six floors, a basement floor, the law library, and the music library. The study atmosphere is nice, the interior of the facility is clean, and it is a space which all undergraduates at SMWU can use freely. During the exam period, every seat on every floor is taken, which shows the outstanding passion and aspiration for academic achievement of Sookmyungians. The number of students using the library has increased sharply as social distancing guidelines have been eased and face-to-face classes have been opened in 2022. With the active use of the library by students, the services that students are satisfied and dissatisfied with are more clearly revealed than before. First, the services provided to students are largely divided into data use and facility use. Data use includes data loan and return, application for purchase of desired data, and application for book loan and reading from other institutions. If students have a student ID or a mobile license, they can easily borrow from the loan room on the first floor or the unmanned loan machine located on the first and third floors. They can also use the unmanned return box when they are returning a book. For undergraduates, up to 10 books can be checked out for 14 days, and for undergraduates with disabilities, up to 20 books can be checked out for 30 days. The late fee is 50 won per book per day for general books, and loans are suspended until they are returned. If 30 days are exceeded, the late fee will double, and access to the library will be prohibited until the book is returned.
Next, facility use includes using the Heyoung Campus app, the library reading room, the study room, lockers, PCs, wireless LANs, printers, and scanners. If students download the app called "Heyoung Campus," they can enter the library and reserve seats through the issued mobile license. The reading room of the library is currently available from the first to sixth floors. Students can select and use spaces on each floor according to their purpose. Shinhan Lobby is on the first floor, and the second and fifth floors contain the "conversation zones" which permit laptop use and academic conversation during online learning or group projects. On the other hand, on the 1st floor of the World Women's Literature Museum, the 3rd, 4th, and 6th floors are "silence zones," and conversation and laptop typing are prohibited. However, in the S4 laptop reading room on the 6th floor, conversation is not possible, but laptop typing is. Seats can be used for up to six hours with one seat allocated per person, and the usage period of the same seat can be extended once. After booking a seat, students should enter no more than 10 minutes after the reservation time to confirm the seat. If they leave while using the reading room, they can continue to use the assigned seat if their ID card is recognized on the "leave" reader provided at the exit of the entrance gate. The maximum allowed time to be absent is 1 hour and 30 minutes. Following the lifting of social distancing, the reading room on the sixth floor of the library began to open 24 hours a day from April 20, and the distance between seats was also completely terminated from April 19. With the recent opening of the "休(Hyu)" space on the fifth floor, which was not originally opened as a library space creation project, it has now become possible to eat in the library.
Pleasant environment, but uncomfortable facilities
With the aim of looking at the direction in which SMWU's Library should move forward, SMT conducted a survey on Sookmyungians' satisfaction with the library. According to the survey, 71 of the 135 respondents (52.6%) said they had used the data loan and return service among the various data use services.1) 14 respondents (10.4%) applied for the purchase of desired materials, followed by 5 respondents (3.7%) who applied for book loans and reading from other institutions. Of 71 students who have experience in loan and return service, 63 respondents (88.7%) said they were satisfied with the service, indicating that most of the students who had experience using it were satisfied. The most common reasons were the diversity of book materials and the convenience of borrowing and returning them. In particular, many said that they were satisfied with the text notification service for reservation and return of data, and they could find almost all the books they were looking for. However, 9 out of 71 respondents (12.6%) said they were dissatisfied with the service and mentioned the inconvenience of unmanned loan machines' errors. In addition, 10 out of 14 respondents (71.4%) who applied for the purchase of desired data said they were satisfied with the service, indicating that most of the students who had experience using the service were satisfied. They said when they applied for the purchase of desired data, the approval process was fast.
Next, 125 (92.6%), the largest proportion among 135 respondents in terms of facility use, said they had used the Heyoung Campus app for seat assignment, 100 respondents (74.1%) used the reading room, and 63 respondents (46.7%) reserved the study room. "Using lockers, PCs, wireless LANs, printers, and scanners'' followed last with 40 respondents (29.6%). First, 76 out of 125 students (63.3%) who had used the Heyoung seat reserve function said they were satisfied with the service. It is thought that the app is intuitively well implemented, making it convenient to choose a seat. However, 30 out of 125 respondents (24%) said they were dissatisfied with the service. They mentioned the inconvenience of the slow app speed and occasional errors such as assigning one seat to multiple people. Second, 64 out of 100 respondents (64%) who have used the reading room said they were satisfied with the service, showing the highest satisfaction rate among the services. The main opinion was that the study environment was pleasant because the desks and chairs were clean and spacious, and that the conversation zone and quiet zone were separated, so the desired study atmosphere could be selected. However, 50 out of 100 respondents (50%) said they were dissatisfied with the service, showing the highest dissatisfaction rate among the services. There were various reasons for dissatisfaction, and first of all, it was pointed out that the opening time of the rest of the floors except the sixth floor was too short and the size of the conversation zone was insufficient for demand. The inconvenience of unstable Wi-Fi connections and broken outlets was also mentioned. The reading room of the library seems to be well-equipped, but it is still inconvenient to use some facilities.
From the perspective of the library
To respond to the dissatisfaction of the students based on the survey results, SMT interviewed Cho Sungkyung, head of SMWU Library's Academic Information Management Team. SMT started by asking the students' questions about data use. Many students noted that the library has a large volume of books compared to other universities, but nevertheless some said that the number of popular books is small. Therefore, SMT asked if there were any plans to increase the number of popular books. On behalf of the Academic Information Support Team, Cho replied that the SMWU library contains 102.3 books per student, which is more than the legal standard under the University Library Promotion Act of 70 books per student. It is difficult for the library to develop a balanced collection due to the continuous rise in subscription fees for overseas electronic resources which account for the largest portion of the library's budget. Therefore, the library plans to supplement the budget for book purchases. The library will receive support including 100 million won from the Industry-University Cooperation Foundation and 90 million won from the University Innovation Group. It is also planning to purchase additional books that are especially popular and expand the purchase of specialized books such as engineering books. In addition, one student suggested that it would be convenient to submit the late fee directly, but Cho said it is difficult to implement that. According to the results of the internal audit of SMWU in 2016, the library was informed that it should improve the late payment problems, so since March 2019, the library has changed the payment method to online payment. Some of the major university libraries in Seoul offer both online electronic and kiosk payment, so the library proposed the installation of kiosks but due to the cost of kiosk maintenance and installation, it was difficult to move forward with this proposal.
Next, SMT asked about the use of facilities in which most students were interested. Regarding the "conversation zone," she explained that currently, the "noise zone" has been changed to the "conversation zone." Since the conversation zone was creatd by the demand for conversational spaces for discussion due to the increase in non-face-to-face classes, students should be careful of loud sounds that cause damage to others. In response to the opinion that the noise standards of the "quiet zone" are not well kept, she said that there are already notices on every wall in the quiet zone to be careful of keyboard noise. The library has also provided information on the library website and Instagram about all the noise regulations, so she hopes that students follow the guidelines. Also, the library is planning to address students' needs such as expanding the "conversation zone" as much as possible through a demand survey in the future. Concerning the Wi-Fi connection instability, which received the most criticism, the library is aware of the problem and the Digital Infrastructure Team carried out wireless network improvement work on April 24 and 30. The team plans to continuously monitor the network service status. There were also many suggestions for installing more power outlets. She said that the floors that have not undergone floor electricity construction do not have built-in outlets. Notices have been put up saying that tables with blocked outlets cannot be used and the excessive use of electricity can affect the power load and possibly cause a fire, so students' understanding is required. However, the library will consider installing additional power outlets if it is safe to do so. Lastly, SMT asked about eating in the library. She said that eating is only allowed in "休(Hyu)" on the 5th floor. Some students use "休(Hyu)" as a space for relaxation, so students can eat only simple food such as sandwiches, but delivery food is not allowed for reasons such as garbage disposal problems and odors. In addition, all beverages are restricted except those in unbreakable and covered containers. Through the interview, some of the students' questions about the library have been solved.
Creating a culture of consideration
The library is a space for all of us. As students with various purposes and inclinations are using a common space, various demands and problems for the library occur. However, it is difficult for the library employees to handle each situation individually, so it is necessary to create a culture in which students are considerate of each other. Since the library is trying to listen to the various opinions of students, continuous interest in the library and providing suggestions through "Ask Us" on the library website will contribute to maintaining a better atmosphere.
1) The total number of students enrolled is 12,596, with a survey participation rate of about 1.1%.
Kim Lee Jiwon / Society Section Editor
Yoon Kim Eunji / Woman Section Editor