Problems with printers? Cross-referencing crises? The Measuring Information Service Outcomes (MISO) Survey offers participants a chance to vent library and IT woes. Created at Bryn Mawr College in 2004, the MISO Survey collects student, faculty and staff opinions on both library and IT services from numerous campuses, allowing each college to compare its performance point by point to peer institutions. This is Bowdoin's first year using MISO; it is one of 30 participating colleges.

According to Deputy Chief Information Officer Rebecca Sandlin, Bowdoin only decided to participate in the survey after MISO organizers contacted it last summer.

"We weren't looking to do a survey. The MISO people approached us," said Sandlin. "We heard good things about the survey, so we said 'sure, why don't we go ahead and do it as a collaborative effort between the library and IT.'"

Since then, the two departments have been working with MISO to create a version unique to Bowdoin. Last week, different forms of the survey were sent to the faculty, staff, and a sample group of 700 students.

The survey asks participants to rate IT and library services, such as the College libraries' book collection, CBBcat, NExpress, Blackboard, and printing services.

While certain questions on the survey are the same at every participating college, MISO allows colleges to come up with questions that apply specifically to their own students.

"We thought that what we'd really like to know is if any students bought or rented e-textbooks for their classes, so we put that question in there," said Montgomery. "For faculty, we wanted to know whether they allowed students to bring note-taking and e-reading devices into their classroom."

Both departments have student advisory groups and, according to Sandlin, are "hoping that we'll have already predicted a lot of what will be said."

"In itself it will let us know how we're doing to serve members of the community," said Associate Librarian Judy Montgomery. "The library and IT work really closely together, and we try to integrate our services so that there's times where it doesn't really matter who's giving the service, so long as the student, faculty, or staff member are getting what they want."

She emphasized the role of the survey in future planning.

"If somebody doesn't feel like a certain service or area is meeting their needs, obviously this will help us know what to focus our efforts on and how to improve that service," she said.

The survey was emailed to the student body last Friday, and can be completed online until February 27. In an effort to increase participation, students who complete the survey will be entered into a lottery to win one of two e-reader prizes, either a Barnes and Noble Nook or an Amazon Kindle.