The University of Kansas Libraries
What is LibQUAL+?
LibQUAL+ is a research and development project undertaken to define and measure library service quality across institutions and to create useful quality-assessment tools for local planning. Service quality has always been a value for libraries; LibQUAL+ provides a measure of that value. LibQUAL+ currently tests a tool for measuring library users' perceptions of service quality and identifies gaps between desired, perceived, and minimum expectations of service. The project will continue as an R&D endeavor based at the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) in collaboration with the Texas A&M University Libraries through 2003, by which time LibQUAL+ will evolve into an ongoing service quality assessment program at ARL.
Why was LibQUAL+ started?
There is increasing pressure for libraries to move towards outcome-based assessment, instead of relying merely on input, output, or resource metrics. This pressure comes from funding authorities as well as users themselves. Outcome measures may show how well an organization serves its users; they demonstrate an institution's efficiency and effectiveness. LibQUAL+ is one of several outcome-based assessment efforts begun under the ARL New Measures Initiative.
What are the goals of LibQUAL+?
The goals of LibQUAL+ include:
1) to develop web-based tools for assessing library service quality;
2) to develop mechanisms and protocols for evaluating libraries;
3) to identify best practices in providing library service; and
4) to establish a library service quality assessment program at ARL.
What is the basis for the LibQUAL+ survey instrument?
The LibQUAL+ survey instrument is adapted from an instrument called SERVQUAL, which is grounded in the "Gap Theory of Service Quality" and was developed by the marketing research team of A. Parasuraman, V.A. Zeithaml, and L.L. Berry. The Texas A&M University Libraries and other libraries have been using modified SERVQUAL instruments for several years. These applications showed the need for a newly adapted SERVQUAL protocol that serves the needs of libraries; thus LibQUAL+ was born. The original SERVQUAL instrument was regrounded based on a series of interviews with library users. The regrounded instrument, called LibQUAL+, is being refined with each iteration of the survey.
How is LibQUAL+ conducted?
LibQUAL+ uses a scalable web interface and protocol to ask library users about their library service expectations. Each participating library gathers a random sample of email addresses representative of their user population and sends a message to the sample encouraging recipients to complete the survey on the Web. Survey data are transmitted directly from the central LibQUAL+ server to a database. The data are then analyzed and reports that provide information on how users perceive the quality of their library services are generated for the individual libraries. The reports present information on the gaps between users' desired, perceived, and minimally acceptable levels of service.
How will the library use the results of the survey?
This survey will let the libraries know how we are doing from the customer's perspective. The satisfaction of the users of the library is one of the most important measures of library service. From this survey, we will be able to tell what we are doing well and what areas need improvement. These results can guide us in the planning process as we endeavor to continuously improve access to resources and services. We will be able to compare our results with comparable libraries and can learn what others are doing to ensure customer satisfaction. Also, we will be able to compare results from this year's survey with previous surveys and surveys in subsequent years to measure whether improvements brought about intended results.
Note: Information for this page was taken from the LibQUAL website. For further information, go to www.libqual.org