Abstract This paper reports on the use of the LibQUAL+ library customer satisfaction survey tool by Ireland’s Consortium of National and University Libraries (CONUL), and the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL), in the United Kingdom. The paper discusses the consortium composition, the expectations of the customers and how these have changed over time, and the perceptions of the library service in Ireland the UK. Demonstrable outcomes from LibQUAL+® at a local and national level are also presented.
Approach LibQUAL+® is a library service quality survey instrument developed by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) in association with Texas A&M University. A consortium of CONUL and SCONUL member libraries has been successfully running LibQUAL+® in Ireland and the UK since 2003. To date more than 70 UK and Irish Higher Education Libraries have implemented the survey providing a wealth of data on the quality of academic library provision. This paper will examine the composition of the consortium and its implementation patterns. The results of the surveys at a national and international level will be discussed, providing a comprehensive picture of the performance of UK and Irish academic libraries. Additional statistical analyses are also presented which review users’ expectations of libraries, how these are changing over time, and how successful libraries are at meeting these expectations.
Findings The LibQUAL+® survey results from Ireland and the UK College & University participants since 2003 are presented. Emphasis is placed on the users’ desired expectation mean scores as an indication of changing concerns amongst various library user groups. Trend analysis of how well libraries have been responding to and meeting these expectations is also presented. Examples of best practice identified from the data will be discussed, highlighting where lessons can be learnt.
The paper presents evidence that users expectations may not be changing as rapidly as technology developments might suggest, and that there is still a desire for the physical academic library despite the increasing demand for electronic resources. Customer perceptions of library services have increased since 2003 indicating the results of action taken has had a positive impact. The opportunity for improvement does however remain, encouraging us to strive to further in our quest for the perfect library service.
Value This paper will be of interest to those involved in library surveys or other methods of listening to users. In particular it may assist the development of deeper understanding of library users’ expectations in a changing environment, and will also therefore be of value to all those concerned with library strategy and development.
Highest DesiredID Question Desired Years in (2011) Top 5 Making electronic resources accessible from myIC-1 home or office 8.30 9LP-1 Library space that inspires study and learning 8.16 2 A library Web site enabling me to locateIC-2 information on my own 8.10 9 Making information easily accessible forIC-7 independent use 8.06 2 Print and/or electronic journal collections IIC-8 require for my work 8.06 8
Lowest DesiredID Question Desired Years in (2011) Bottom 5AS-2 Giving users individual attention 6.77 9LP-5 Space for group learning and group study 7.32 9AS-1 Library staff who instill confidence in users 7.49 8AS-6 Library staff who deal with users in a caring fashion 7.73 9AS-7 Library staff who understand the needs of their users 7.74 2
SCONUL LibQUAL+® Dimension Minimum Mean Comparisons 6.80 6.60 6.40Mean 6.20 6.00 5.80 5.60 Affect of Service Information Control Library as Place Overall Dimension Minimum Mean 2004 Minimum Mean 2011
SCONUL LibQUAL+® Dimension Desired Mean Comparisons 8.10 8.00 7.90 7.80 7.70Mean 7.60 7.50 7.40 7.30 7.20 Affect of Service Information Control Library as Place Overall Dimension Desired Mean 2004 Desired Mean 2011
SCONUL LibQUAL+® Increasing Minimum Expectations7.006.806.606.406.206.005.805.605.405.205.00 Space for group Making electronic Library staff who A comfortable and learning and group resources accessible deal with users in a inviting location study from my home or caring fashion office Minimum Mean 2004 Minimum Mean 2011
SCONUL LibQUAL+® Decreasing Desired Expectations8.208.007.807.607.407.207.006.806.60 The printed Print and/or Giving users Quiet space for Modern library materials I electronic journal individual individual work equipment that need for my work collections I attention lets me easily require for my access needed work information Desired Mean 2004 Desired Mean 2011
SCONUL LibQUAL+® Dimension Perceived Mean Comparisons 7.20 7.00 6.80 6.60 6.40Mean 6.20 6.00 5.80 5.60 5.40 Affect of Service Information Control Library as Place Overall Dimension Perceived Mean 2004 Perceived Mean 2011
SCONUL & ARL Comparisons: 2004 – 2011 Affect of Service 9.00 8.00 7.00Mean 6.00 5.00 SCONUL Affect of ARL Affect of Service SCONUL Affect of ARL Affect of Service Service 2004 2004 Service 2011 2011
SCONUL & ARL Comparisons: 2004 – 2011 Information Control 9.00 8.00 7.00Mean 6.00 5.00 SCONUL Information ARL Information SCONUL Information ARL Information Control 2004 Control 2004 Control 2011 Control 2011
SCONUL & ARL Comparisons: 2004 – 2011 Library as Place 9.00 8.00 7.00Mean 6.00 5.00 SCONUL Library as ARL Library as Place SCONUL Library as ARL Library as Place Place 2004 2004 Place 2011 2011
The Library is one of the most oppressivelydepressing locations on the face of the earth; its ugly décor and offensive lighting gnaw atthe soul and the carpeting is an invitation to madness £14 million improvement programme now underway at St. Andrews to renovate the Library, expand the collection and increase study space.
Feedback from SCONUL Participants• Secured additional funding to increase resources• Increased liaison with Academic staff• Improvements to the Library building• Developed information literacy training• Increased help and support
National Outcomes Libraries are being transformed into rowdy social spaces… many of the changes have had unfortunate – even disastrous – consequences for the place of libraries in university scholarship and study. Response published in the next edition of THE from SCONUL outlining that LibQUAL+® results show that academic staff perceptions of library buildings are the highest they’ve ever been.Sharpe, K. 2009. Quiet, please. Times Higher Education . 5 November. [Available Online].
Conclusions• Greater use of LibQUAL+® by Pre-1992 Universities• Biennial participation for ~half of users• Expectations rising in most areas• Perceptions rising also• Not quite as good as ARL• LibQUAL+® helps Libraries to develop and improve services• The carpet at St. Andrews used to be mental!
Acknowledgements• Amanda Conway, Dorothy Vuong, Karen Ready, Jacqui Dowd, John MacColl and the rest of the SCONUL LibQUAL+® Participants• The ARL LibQUAL+® Participants• SCONUL Working Group on Performance and Quality• Martha, Bruce, Colleen, David and the rest of the LibQUAL+® team
Thank You!Selena Killicks.email@example.com @SelenaKillickTel: +44(0)1793 785561J. Stephen TownDirector of Information, The University of York