Beginning in mid February until the end of March 2005, Western Carolina University students, faculty and staff were invited to participate in the LibQUAL+ survey, an electronic questionnaire used to assess library services. Hunter Library was one of 238 libraries nationwide to use the 2005 LibQUAL+ assessment instrument. The primary goal of administering the LibQUAL+ survey is to better understand user perceptions of the quality of library services. The survey gave library users the opportunity to tell us which services are important, and in what areas improvements are needed. The information gathered will be used to assess the quality of our existing services, and help us develop services that better meet the needs and expectations of the Western Carolina University community. We would like to thank everyone who participated in the LIBQUAL+ survey.
Survey participants were asked to provide three ratings for each of the survey questions. Each rating measured the minimum acceptable level of service, perceived current level of service, and desired level of service. The core survey items measure service quality in three dimensions: Affect of Service – quality of services received from the library staff, Information Control – quality and access to the library’s collection of materials, and Library as a Place – quality of our space for individual and group study. There are also a few items concerning interlibrary loan/document delivery and instruction services, information literacy outcomes, and questions which measure general satisfaction. A box for open-ended comments is also provided.
A total of 515 responses were received with undergraduate students representing 47% of the respondents. Graduate students represent 11%, faculty 26%, and university staff members 16% of the total number of respondents.
Overall, Hunter Library is doing very well. In the survey summary, representing all of the responses, the Library fell above the minimum level of service expectations in all of the categories. Our overall score for the perceived level of current services is 7.33 on a scale of 1 to 9 (with 9 being the highest rating).
In breaking the analysis down by user group, we find similar findings among our undergraduate respondents. No areas were revealed to be below the minimum acceptable level of service for this group. Our overall score from undergraduate students for perceived level of current service in all categories is 7.28.
Although our overall perceived service rating from the graduate student respondents is 7.21, library services fell below their minimum level of acceptable service in two dimensions, information control and library as a place. Improvements noted in services involving information control primarily concerns enhancing our collection of print and electronic materials, as well as making our resources more easily accessible. Library as a place is the other area identified by this group as needing improved services. The graduate students would like a more comfortable and inviting location, as well as improvements in space for individual quiet study.
The overall rating from WCU faculty members of perceived acceptable level of service is 7.50. Data from this group revealed one area in which the library fell below the minimum level. Under the dimension of information control, the faculty identified the need for improvements in print and/or electronic journal collections required for their work. Hunter Library has already taken steps to increase our journal holdings through access to additional electronic full-text databases.
The staff of WCU also rated perceived library services high in their assessment with an overall score of 7.24. One area fell below the minimum level of acceptable service for this group. In the category of information control, university staff indicate that improvements need to be made in the library web site to enable users to locate information on their own. Redesigning the library web site is currently underway.
Additional survey questions are designed to measure interlibrary loan/document delivery and instruction services, information literacy outcomes, and general satisfaction. The overall score for interlibrary loan/document delivery and instruction services is 7.58. The overall score for information literacy outcomes is 6.70. The general satisfaction summary score is 7.46. In addition to responses to the survey questions, 183 open-ended comments were also received. These thoughtful suggestions reflect the overall findings, as well as provide specific information on how the library is meeting user expectations of quality services.
We are happy to report that the Western Carolina University community gave high ratings to the quality of services received from the library staff who they perceive as attentive, courteous, knowledgeable, dependable, responsive, and caring. We will continue to maintain this high level of personal service. The LibQUAL+ survey results have helped us identify important service areas in which to focus our attention. The information will be used to make improvements in order to provide the desired level of quality library services for our users.
The entire survey results notebook is available in a PDF file. For additional information, please contact Eloise Hitchcock, Assistant Director for Personnel and Planning, Hunter Library, by telephone: 227-3421 or e-mail: Hitchcock@wcu.edu.