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LibQUAL+®: Charting Library Service Quality at the UofL: LibQUAL+® Survey Overview

Assessing library service quality using LibQual+(TM) at the University of Lethbridge

Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to bring them to our attention:

  • Check out the Frequently Asked Questions

  • Email: The Library Assessment Team.

  • Or contact Leona Jacobs, LibQUAL+® Lead Project Librarian, (403) 329-2008.

For more information about the LibQual+®service visit the ARL LibQUAL+® Project Website

About LibQUAL+® itself ...

  1. What is the LibQUAL+® survey?
  2. What does the survey measure?
  3. How has the survey been promoted?
  4. How will this survey benefit the University of Lethbridge?
  5. How and when is the survey being conducted?
  6. Are the responses confidential?
  7. Has this survey been approved by the University's Human Subject Research Committee?
  8. What survey instrument is being used?
  9. What other libraries are participating in LibQUAL+®?
  10. Do all libraries use the same questions?
  11. How can I get more information about LibQUAL+®?

1. What is the LibQUAL+® survey?

Service quality has always been the focus of libraries; LibQUAL+® is intended to provide a measure of the value of library service quality across multiple academic and research libraries. The current LibQUAL+® instrument measures library users' perceptions of their libraries' service quality and identifies gaps between minimal, desired, and perceived levels of service.

LibQUAL+® is a suite of services that libraries use to solicit, track, understand, and act upon users' opinions of service quality. These services are offered to the library community by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The program's centerpiece is a rigorously tested Web-based survey bundled with training that helps libraries assess and improve library services, change organizational culture, and market the survey. More than 1200 institutions have participated in LibQUAL+®, including colleges and universities, community colleges, health sciences libraries, law libraries, and public libraries-- some through various consortia, others as independent participants. LibQUAL+® has also expanded internationally, with participating institutions in the USA, Canada, the UK and Europe. The growing community of participants and its extensive dataset are rich resources for improving library services.

2.What does the survey measure?

The survey instrument addresses three service quality dimensions that have been found to be valid in previous assessments of library services: Affect of Service, Library as Place, and Information Control. Each question has three parts that ask respondents to indicate:

  • the minimum level of service they will accept
  • desired level of service they expect
  • perceived level of service currently offered.

This design will permit analysis of gaps between expectations, perception and the minimum acceptable level of service.

3.How has the survey been promoted?

The Library has been active in promoting our LibQUAL+® survey on library service quality. Besides publishing an article in the Legend, we made presentations to various University groups, displayed posters throughout the Library advertising this event, published screensavers on all the Library's public workstations, published screensavers across the University's email stations, and submitted TLFs to The Melorist. If you have other ideas for promoting this survey, please contact the Library Assessment Team.

4. How will this survey benefit the University of Lethbridge?

As a participant in LibQUAL+® 2014, the University of Lethbridge Library will implement the measurement tool, analyse results, indentify both service strengths and areas needing improvement, and utilize this information in future planning for library services to ensure that our services are closely aligned with user expectations. LibQUAL+® results will enable comparison of service quality with peer institutions, development of performance indicators, and understanding of best practices across institutions. In addition to the broad aggregated results for the University as a whole, the Library will be reviewing the results by disciplinary area for the information and use of the different subject liaison librarians, the objective being to understand more clearly the differing needs of the University by discipline.

5. How and when is the survey being conducted?

Using the Student Information System and the Human Resources Information System, we have selected a random sample of undergraduate email addresses as well as gathered all the email addresses for faculty, graduate students, and library staff. On Monday, March 3, 2014 these individuals will receive an invitation from Chris Nicol, University Librarian, explaining why this is a university initiative and inviting them to complete the survey. Reminders will be sent periodically throughout the survey period to encourage maximum participation.

The data for participating libraries will be collected on secure servers located at the Texas A&M University Library. Each response will be stored separately as it reaches the server. Survey results will ultimately be reported back to the participating institutions as aggregated mean score data.

6. Are the responses confidential?

Yes. The LibQUAL+® approach to confidentiality is guided by the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association (see: http://www.apa.org/ethics/code2002.html). Although some information is captured from respondents, such as network and email address, privacy is protected in two ways. First, only very indirect information is captured which would be difficult to trace back to an individual. Second, everything possible is done to separate personal information from survey responses. Email addresses submitted are saved separately from the survey responses; there is no way to link an individual's response to their email address--assuring confidentiality when entering the incentive draw. After the draw, the email and network addresses are discarded.

The survey is straightforward and involves no deception or coercion. Potential respondents may elect not to proceed with the survey after reading the guarantees of confidentiality and privacy.

7. Has this survey been approved by the University's Research Services Human Subject Research Committee?

Our participation in LibQUAL+® was reviewed with Research Services and evaluated according to The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. Questions regarding your rights as a participant in this research may be addressed to the Office of Research Services, University of Lethbridge (phone: 403-329-2747 or email: research.services@ uleth.ca).

8. What survey instrument is being used?

The LibQUAL+® survey evolved from a conceptual model based on the ServQUAL instrument, a popular tool for assessing service quality in the private sector and one grounded in the "Gap Theory of Service Quality". It was developed by Leonard L. Berry (Distinguished Professor, Texas A&M University), A. Parasuraman, and Valarie A. Zeithaml. The Texas A&M University Libraries and other libraries used the modified ServQUAL instrument for several years. Those applications revealed the need for a newly adapted tool that would serve the particular requirements of libraries. From 1999, ARL, representing the largest research libraries in North America, partnered with Texas A&M University Libraries to develop, test and refine LibQUAL+®. This effort was supported in part by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE).

9. What other libraries are participating in LibQUAL+®?

A full list of other libraries that have participated in the LibQUAL+® survey is available at http://http://www.libqual.org/about/about_survey/participants

10. Do all libraries use the same questions?

All libraries participating in the 2014 LibQUAL+® survey on library service quality will use the same 22 core questions and demographic questions. In addition, each library may select 5 questions from a list of optional questions. The University of Lethbridge has selected optional questions covering promotion (1), information literacy (3), and ease navigating the Library's website (1).

11. How can I get more information about LibQUAL+®?

For more detailed information, check out the Association of Research Libraries' LibQUAL+® Project Website or contact the Library Assessment Team.

Subject Guide