Library Services

Application of LibQUAL+® technique in Academic Libraries



Academic and research libraries are currently engaging in activities to try to define new metrics that better describe their service activities. Increased pressure from funding authorities and accreditation agencies, and greater than before demands from the users of services have encouraged academic and research institutions, and thus their libraries, to move towards more outcome-based assessment instead of relying merely on input, output, or resource metrics. Outcome measures show how well an organization serves its users; they demonstrate an institution’s efficiency and effectiveness. One such new measures LibQUAL+® developed by ARL have been applying across the world to get users perceptions and to identify gaps & zone of tolerance between minimal, desired and perceived levels of service.

LibQUAL+® technique in University Libraries:

Library is a service organization and the basic objective is to satisfy the needs of the clientele. Libraries are the entities which need constant upgradations to be able to meet the growing demands of their users. But academic libraries today confront escalating pressure to demonstrate impact. In the contemporary campus milieu, “every unit . . . is valued in proportion to its contribution to the quality success of the campus.” (Nitecki, 1996). But as Cullen (Perspectives on User Satisfaction Surveys, 2001) said “Academic libraries are currently facing their greatest challenge since the explosion in tertiary education and academic publishing which began after World War II. The global digital revolution is affecting both the traditional forms of the creation, organization, and dissemination of knowledge and the world of tertiary education itself. The alliance of business and universities to create a new paradigm of tertiary education, and the emergence of the virtual university, supported by the virtual library, calls into question many of our basic assumptions about the role of the academic library, and the security of its future. Retaining and growing their customer base, and focusing more energy on meeting their customers’ expectations is the only way for academic libraries to survive in this volatile environment. In this environment, “A measure of library quality based solely on collections has become obsolete.” (Nitecki, 1996) LibQual+

These various considerations have prompted the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) to sponsor a number of “New Measures” initiatives i.e. LibQUAL+® protocol. In October 2000, Heath, Cook, and Thompson, and others described their work to the ARL members at a one-day symposium for ARL Library Directors presented immediately following the ARL annual meeting and finally, Association of Research Libraries permitted the LibQual+® protocol. Through 2012, over 1,200 libraries have participated in LibQUAL+®, collecting over 1.7 million library user responses. LibQUAL+® has been implemented in libraries in over 28 countries, and the project supports 21 language translations. LibQUAL+® continues to expand into new environments with implementations in a variety of institution types including college/university, community college, health sciences, high school, academic law, academic military, public, hospital, and state libraries. (LibQUAL+®)

The understanding of users’ expectations and meeting those expectations is the only way for libraries to retain their users. Assessment of library service helps to identify users’ needs, wants and decreasing the gap between users’ perceptions and expectations. It also provides users’ feedback in order to improve the performance of library services.

LibQual+®, is based on “SERVQUAL” protocol that is developed in the 1980s by TAMU Professors Parasuranam, Zeithaml, and Berry. However, SERVQUAL was developed for use in the for-profit business sector; but LibQual+® is developed to measure the minimum, desired and perceived service level of the library how well their library meets their needs. By asking about minimum, desired, and perceived service levels, the survey lets us see where library services are below the minimum acceptable level; where they are better than the minimum, but less than the desired level; and even where they exceed expectations as well as users are asked to assign a value to the level of service they desire, as well as their perceptions of how well their library meets their needs and minimum levels. In the library context LibQUAL+® measures three areas, viz.-‘Library as a place’ or performance of library as a place; Information Control’ or effectiveness of information resources and information delivery tools and finally ‘Affect of Service’ or how efficiently services are provided by the library staff. To determine the performance of university libraries in West Bengal from user’s point of view LibQUAL+@ technique have been taken with the variations according to the requirement of the study.

Original Reference Article:


Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *