April 21, 2014

Princeton Review Student Survey Ranks College Libraries

The Princeton Review released its 2013 college rankings in 62 categories, including ‘Best College Library’ and its counterpart, ‘This is a Library?’ Both lists are based solely on students’ answers to the survey question: “How do you rate your school’s library facilities?” They do not take into account number of volumes, circulations, or any other metrics. The survey polled some 122,000 students in total, for an average of about 325 students per ranked campus. The full rankings will be published in The Best 377 Colleges, 2013 Edition, in both print and enhanced ebook formats.

This year’s top 20 rated college libraries are: Harvard College, U.S. Military Academy (West Point), Columbia University, Stanford University, Emory University, Yale University, Hampden-Sydney College, University of Chicago, Princeton University, Middlebury College, Brigham Young University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell University, The College of New Jersey, West Virginia University, University of Virginia, Dartmouth College, Colgate University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and Loyola Marymount University.

The study’s methodology did not explain why only Harvard College’s libraries were evaluated, rather than the entire Harvard University library system, while other university library systems were considered as a whole. The Harvard University Libraries recently underwent a major reorganization, as LJ reported.

The 20 lowest ranked libraries were: Clarkson University, Bradley University, United States Merchant Marine Academy, Tuskegee University, University of Dallas, Prescott College, Howard University, College of the Atlantic, Duquesne University, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Bard College, Seattle University, Emerson College, Montana Tech of the Univ. of Montana, Drexel University, Green Mountain College, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Juniata College , Birmingham-Southern College, and Wells College.

Drexel’s presence on the ‘This is a Library?’ list is a particular surprise because the university has a library school which is ranked the ninth best in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The University of Hawaii–Manoa also has a library school, ranked 29.

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Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Senior Editor, News and Features of Library Journal.

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Comments

  1. I’m not sure what having a library school has to do with the question that PR asked “How do you rate your school’s library facilities?” As you point out it has nothing to do with metrics or service – just impressions of the building – and unfortunately some of our library buildings don’t meet users’ expectations for one reason or another. It’s disappointing to see Drexel ranked this way because they’ve been doing some great innovative work to improve their services and they’ve got a team of truly dedicated library staff serving the community. Just as with most college rankings, this doesn’t provide an accurate reflection of the true value of the institution and gives students and parents misleading information that won’t help them make a good college decision – yet they are regularly consulted – so go figure.

    • Totally agree with the previous comment. I have worked at both Drexel and UH, and given the way the question is worded, students may have been responding to physical facilities which could be improved. Library schools do not have influence over library facilities, although it is discouraging.