What do they want now? Qualitative regrounding of the LibQUAL+® survey

Killick, Selena (2012). What do they want now? Qualitative regrounding of the LibQUAL+® survey. In: Proving value in challenging times: Proceedings of the 9th Northumbria international conference on performance measurement in libraries and information services (Hall, Ian; Thornton, Stephen and Town, Stephen eds.), University of York, York, pp. 197–200.

URL: http://www.york.ac.uk/media/abouttheuniversity/sup...


Purpose: LibQUAL+® has provided libraries with a customer satisfaction benchmarking tool which is easy to administer and cost effective. The questionnaire was initially developed following a series of interviews conducted in late 1999 - early 2000 with academic library customers on what constitutes a quality library service. In order to remain current, LibQUAL+® must review the questions asked of the library customers to ensure that it remains relevant as user expectations alter over time (McKnight, 2008). Do the needs of the academic library customer still align to the views held over a decade ago? The purpose of this paper is to present the findings of a Cranfield University research project into the current needs of its academic library customers, and to gauge if the LibQUAL+® questions are still assessing these needs.

Methodology: A series of focus groups were held at Cranfield University during 2011 capturing what academic library customers expect from their library service. Separate focus groups were conducted consisting of customers from four key stakeholder groups; full-time taught postgraduate students, part-time taught postgraduate students, doctoral research students and academic teaching staff. The semi-structured discussions covered the needs of the customers in four main areas; information provision, access to information resources, support from library staff and the physical library environment. The focus groups were transcribed then coded using Atlas.TI to identify common themes of service provision requirements across all user types. These common themes were then compared to the core LibQUAL+® questions to identify the differences and similarities between the two data sets.

Findings: The findings at Cranfield University show that LibQUAL+® is still addressing the issues that matter the most to our customers. As it stands, LibQUAL+® still provides Cranfield University with a cost effective and easy to administer survey tool which measures the areas of service provision that our customers expect from their academic library.

Research limitations and implications: Whist the discussions aimed to be as broad as possible, at this stage the research is restricted to Cranfield University customers only. Views from undergraduate students were not captured during this research project as Cranfield University is the UK’s only wholly postgraduate university. For these reasons implications for the overall qualitative regrounding of LibQUAL+® are limited. Wide research into the qualitative regrounding of the LibQUAL+® survey should be considered.

Originality and value of the proposal: Customer Value Discovery research conducted by McKnight (2008) in a UK academic library in 2005 concluded that the LibQUAL+® core questions met most of the customer needs. Outside of the UK, the reforming and regrounding of the LibQUAL+® survey within the digital library environment has been developed through the DigiQUAL+ project based on qualitative research conducted in 2003 (Kyrillidou, et al, 2009a). No recent studies into the qualitative regrounded of LibQUAL+® have been identified.

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