UCB Libraries

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2002 Summary

see section 4 of Survey Results: Item Analysis by User Group


The University Libraries recently completed a second round of a user satisfaction survey. The instrument used both times was an email questionnaire developed by the staff at the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and at Texas A&M University. The surveys, LibQual+TM, were based on a standard instrument from the service industry ServQual. The project was funded by a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE).


LibQUAL+TM is a research and development project undertaken to define and measure library service quality across institutions and to create user-based quality-assessment tools for local planning. LibQUAL+TM 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 ARL in collaboration with the Texas A&M University Libraries through 2003, by which time LibQUAL+TM will evolve into an ongoing service quality assessment program at ARL.

There are four main goals of LibQUAL+TM: 1) development of web-based tools for assessing library service quality; 2) development of mechanisms and protocols for evaluating libraries; 3) identification of best practices in providing library service; and 4) establishment of a library service quality assessment program at ARL.


LibQUAL+TM was administered in the spring of 2002 to 164 participating institutions, many of them members of the ARL. The results which measured four areas, Affect of Service (patron/staff interactionÑ9 items), Library as Place (physical environmentÑ5 items), Personal Control (ease of useÑ6 items), and Access to Information (materials and holdingsÑ5 items), may be compared to a number of other libraries.


At the University of Colorado, Boulder, the survey was sent to email addresses for 1200 faculty, 1500 graduate students, and 2500 undergraduates for a total of 5200. These numbers represent all of the faculty and all of the graduate students. A random sample of undergraduates was used. Subjects were contacted with one introductory message sent prior to the survey and two follow-up reminders. 15.5% of our sample completed the survey. Of the 804 respondents, approximately 35% were undergraduate, 36% graduate, 28% faculty, and the remainder were staff.


LibQUAL+TM allows us to compare user perceptions of service delivery against user expectations, so that the final scores indicated how well CU Libraries do in meeting our users' expectations. From the survey results, it is possible to compare how our users perceive our services to the national data set of how users in the 163 other institutions perceive their service in relation to their expectations.


In all of the four categories mentioned above, the CU-B Libraries more than met our users' expectations. On a scale of 1-9, our users rated their minimum level of service for all four categories at 6.105 and their desired level of service at 7.73. Their perceived rating of our actual performance in the four areas was 6.40. Thus our performance exceeded expectations by 0.295.


The first of the categories, Affect of Service, refers to our interactive relationship or in other words, our public service desk interaction such as reference, circulation, Interlibrary Loan, etc. The desired rating was 7.71 with a perceived performance of 6.50 which exceeded the minimum expectation of 6.09 by 0.41.


In the Library as Place category, which rates physical settings and facilities, the difference between the perceived performance (5.90) and the minimum (5.44) was the greatest, with the former exceeding the latter by 0.46. The desired rating was 7.09.


The third category of Personal Control, which rates ease of use of the library system, showed a minimum expectation of 6.52 with a perceived performance of 6.71 which yields a difference of 0.19. The desired rating was 8.19. Data concerning two kinds of library use by patron type yielded some very interesting results related to Personal Control. A large majority of faculty, 82.5%, use the library's electronic resources from home or office daily or weekly. Almost as many graduate students, 72.3%, do the same. However, a much smaller portion of undergraduates, 38.8%, choose to use the library in this manner. Rather, almost twice as many undergraduates, 64.5%, prefer using the library on premises daily or weekly. A comparable proportion of faculty and graduate students also use the library on premises daily or weekly, 63.2% and 63% respectively.


The last category, Access to Information, which rates materials and holdings, showed the smallest gap between minimum and perceived of 0.11. Still, perceived (6.48) exceeded minimum (6.37) while desired was 7.92.


The results from the ARL libraries showed a similar, though not identical, zone of tolerance. In all four categories, respondents' view of their libraries' performance fell within their range of expectations. Although the perceived scores in all four categories at CU-B exceeded the expectation, the "gaps" or exceeded amounts were slightly larger for the ARL libraries than for CU-B.


This survey also contained questions for three areas of general satisfaction. Patrons were asked to rate on a scale of 1-9 their levels of general satisfaction, with 9 representing "strongly agree" Again, while CU-B's scores here fell slightly below those of the combined ARL libraries, they show that CU-B, while having room for improvement, still serves its patrons well. Our score for Satisfaction with Treatment was 6.89 as compared to 7.28 overall. Satisfaction with Support was 6.29 contrasted with 6.85, and Overall Quality of Service had a score of 6.55 compared to 7.12 for all ARL libraries.


While the CU Libraries have room for improvement, particularly in the area of Library as Place, it is encouraging that our patrons do not feel we are falling below the minimum in these four categories. While it is impossible to determine the reasons for CU-B failing to exceed the ARL average, there are obvious culprits. The primary one is the condition of the Norlin library building itself which is gravely in need of a major renovation, not just to improve looks but also to improve telecommunications infrastructure, wiring, accessibility, ease of use, safety, and comfortable/reflective work space for individuals and groups. Other reasons probably include low staffing levels and an inadequate materials budget.



LibQUAL+(TM) is a registered trademark of the Association of Research Libraries.