Library Service Quality Survey Results from Spring 2007
- What you told us/What we are doing or planning to do
- What is the LibQUAL+ survey?
- What does the survey measure?
- Who responded?
- How do users perceive library services?
- What is important to faculty and students?
- What are we doing well?
- What do we need to work on?
- How can you give the Libraries more feedback?
- Useful links
|What you told us||What we're doing or planning to do|
|The Library needs more print and electronic journals and more print materials in some disciplines.|
|The Library needs to improve its website and provide easier remote access to electronic information.||
|The Library needs to resolve user needs and service problems, knowledgeably, dependably and quickly.||
|The Library needs to provide more group study space, space for quiet study, as well as technologically rich space with help from knowledgeable staff.|
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In the spring of 2007, the Washington University Libraries sent a survey to faculty and students to assess the quality of library service based on user expectations and to identify areas for improvement. The LibQUAL+ survey is an internationally used survey tool devised at Texas A&M in partnership with the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and it has been used by more than 500 libraries. (www.libqual.org) The stated goals of LibQUAL+ are to
- Foster a culture of excellence in providing library service
- Help libraries better understand user perceptions of library service quality
- Collect and interpret library user feedback systematically over time
- Provide libraries with comparable assessment information from peer institutions
- Identify best practices in library service
- Enhance library staff members' analytical skills for interpreting and acting on data
In February 2007 we e-mailed the survey link to faculty, graduate students and undergraduates. The survey consists of 22 core questions. For each question, respondents were asked to indicate, on a scale of 1 to 9, their minimum acceptable service level, desired service level, and their perception of the level of service currently provided by the libraries. There were several additional questions about the users' overall satisfaction with the Libraries. We also received 489 comments that expressed user perceptions and expectations more specifically.return to top
The survey measures library users' perceptions of service quality in three areas:
- Affect of Service (how well library staff interact with and provide direct service to users),
- Information Control (print and electronic collections and resources) and
- Library as Place (comfort and effectiveness of facilities).
The survey asks responders to rate their desired, minimum and perceived expectations of service and identifies gaps between these measures. The gaps indicate how close the library is to meeting users' desired levels of service and how much improvement is needed in some areas.
There are 22 standardized items, five locally selected items and three items that rate overall satisfaction with library services. The survey also includes a comments box soliciting open-ended user views. User comments can be most useful in understanding why users answer as they do and what changes they wish to see.
The key benefits of using the LibQUAL+ survey are that it allows us to compare user perceptions of service delivery against user expectations, so that the final scores indicate how well WU Libraries do in meeting our users' expectations.
It is also possible to compare how our users perceive our services to the national data set of how users in all participating ARL institutions perceive their services in relation to their expectations. An added benefit is the ability to compare our current (2007) findings with our previous findings (2004) to measure improvement.return to top
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In each of the three categories, the Washington University Libraries more than met our users' expectations, although there is room for improvement to meet the desired level of service. We are working on this.
|Affect of Service||6.17||6.82||7.83||+0.65|
|Library as Place||6.05||6.81||7.79||+0.76|
Overall satisfaction ratings
All users rated their overall satisfaction with the quality of service provided by the Libraries as 6.96 in 2007 and 6.99 in 2004. The chart shows satisfaction ratings by user group and compared to ARL data for 2006.
Faculty and graduate students indicate that WU Libraries has improved from 2004 in overall quality of service and support for learning, research and teaching (general satisfaction questions), but undergraduates gave lower scores in these areas for 2007 than for 2004. (Charging for printing may have had an impact on the scores of undergrads.)
Scores for WU are lower than ARL 2006 averages in general satisfaction areas. In 2004, WU was higher than the ARL 2004 averages.
Scores for Information Control are generally worse than 2004 for all user groups.
There has been a slight improvement in Affect of Service for faculty and graduates, but lower scores in this dimension from undergraduates.return to top
Faculty and graduate students told us that they care the most about Information Control, especially print and electronic journals collections, accessibility and availability of electronic resources, and the Libraries' Web site.
Regarding Affect of Service, faculty and graduate students care most about knowledgeable employees who are ready to respond to requests.
They care much less about "caring" employees, and individual attention. We assume this means individual attention that does not relate directly to specific needs or requests.
Faculty and graduate students care less about Library as Place, especially community space for group learning and group study, and quiet space.
Undergraduates care most about knowledgeable employees who can solve their service problems. It should be noted that, like faculty and grads, they rate individual attention lower than other service needs. This has implications for how we plan for and provide service.
Undergrads generally care more than faculty and grads about Library as Place, especially group study spaces.
Undergrad scores for Information Control have gone down since 2004, possible as a result of Google, Amazon, etc. They care most about the Web site, but also care about easy access to electronic and print information sources.return to top
All users: A comfortable and inviting location
Faculty and graduate students:
Employees who deal with users in a caring fashion
Giving users individual attention
Community space for group learning and study
Readiness to respond to users' questions
Modern equipment that lets me easily access needed information
A getaway for study, learning, or research
Willingness to help users
Making information easily accessible for independent use
- Remote access
- Print materials in certain disciplines
- Print and electronic journals
- Electronic information resources
The faculty determined that these are the top five areas of importance for improvement. Graduate students agree, but also included in their top five: employees who instill confidence in users and library space that inspires study and learning. Undergraduates agree with the top five, and also include: group study space, and quiet space as being important to them.Other areas where improvement is needed are:
- Solving service problems dependably
- Understanding and responding to user needs
- Having the necessary knowledge to answer questions
- Quiet space
Send your comments and suggestions to Gail Oltmanns, Associate Dean, University Libraries at email@example.com to top
Charts representing responses (coming soon)