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Place matters: undergraduate perceptions of the value of the library

Karin de Jager (University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 9 November 2015




The purpose of this paper is to explore from a number of points of view the perceptions of mainly undergraduate students at the University of Cape Town (UCT) about the value they derive from visiting the physical library.


Data from different investigations were assembled to derive a composite view of undergraduates’ perceptions of the value of the library. LibQUAL+® data reflecting the “Library as Place” dimension of the survey which was completed in 2014 were scrutinized; data from two surveys conducted in the information commons and the 24/7 venue of the main library at UCT were compiled and data from gate counts during the past three years showed different aspects of undergraduates’ opinions and behaviour.


The combination of data from difference sources provided convincing evidence that undergraduate students value the library as a physical space and that they believe their working in the library enables them to get better marks for their university work.


The originality of this paper lies in the combination of different data sets to focus on one particular issue, the value of the physical library.



This work is based on research supported in part by the National Research Foundation of South Africa (UID 85,454). William Daniels suggested the title and assisted with providing and interpreting LibQUAL+® data. His editorial support is much appreciated. PJ Fisher assisted with Access data. Some of the data in the “Solicited evidence: Learning Spaces” section of this paper was presented as a “Lightning Talk” at the Library Assessment Conference: Building Effective, Sustainable, Practical Assessment in Seattle in August 2014, and appears in the Proceedings under the title “Demonstrating library value: appropriate methodologies and practical approaches at the University of Cape Town”. The research for this paper was done under the aegis of the UCT Library Values Project.


de Jager, K. (2015), "Place matters: undergraduate perceptions of the value of the library", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 289-302.



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