Customer survey: the Donner Institute is a paradise for researchers of religion

The Donner Institute carried out a customer survey in October 2017 to evaluate the Institute’s library services. The survey provides important information about how the library services could be developed in order to serve customers even better.

The questionnaire was sent to students and researchers in the fields of religion and theology at Åbo Akademi University and the University of Turku, to the board of the Donner Institute and to Åbo Akademi University Foundation. Also all members of the Finnish Society for the Study of Religion were able to participate.

The staff at the Donner library received high marks in the survey.

Assistant Librarian Malin Fredriksson is pleased with the 55 responses.

– Our library is not a museum or an archive; the collections should be used actively. We want to know what is used and how we can make it easier for our customers.

The questionnaire shows that printed books are still important for students and researchers, as well as electronic articles. Printed journals are not as popular.

The Donner Institute collaborates with the library of ÅAU and the electronic material is available through the Alma database.

The library personnel receive a very good grade in the questionnaire.

– Libraries in general also have an important social function. It’s not just about borrowing books, but also about discussing things with the staff, says Fredriksson.

One wish brought forth in the survey is that the Donner Institute should revive the informal student coffee meetings, where students of comparative religion can discuss current issues with the institute’s staff or get tips on new material.

The library of the Donner Institute is a specialised academic library. To be able to use the collections in the best way, it is important that the library customers can easily find their way around the library, Malin Fredriksson points out.

– Comparative religion is a research area that is constantly evolving. Therefore, we must consider how we classify the material. For example, the sociology of religion must today be divided into subclasses such as “religion and politics” or “religious change”, while some other classes can be merged.

The questionnaire also shows that more people want to sit and study or work in the beautiful Humanisticum House, where the Donner Institute and its library are located.

– The building has a special aura of its own, writes one.

– A paradise on earth for religious studies, is how another summarises the experience of using the Donner library.