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LibQUAL Survey

The Zach S. Henderson Library has conducted the LibQUAL+ survey five times since 2003, most recently in 2010, 2013, and 2016.  LibQUAL+ is a rigorously tested Web-based survey developed by the Association of Research Libraries in partnership with the Texas A & M University Libraries. LibQUAL+ consists of 22 core survey items that measure user perceptions of service quality in three dimensions: Affect of Service, Information Control, and Library as Place. For each item, users indicate their minimum service level, desired service level, and perceived service performance. In the survey analysis, mean scores and standard deviations are provided for users’ minimum, desired, and perceived levels of service quality for each item on the survey. The survey is designed to help libraries assess and improve library services, change organizational culture, and market services.

In the 2010 survey, as in 2013 and 2016, undergraduate expectations were exceeded in all cases. However, in 12 of the 2010 ratings the Library did not meet minimum expectations of either the faculty or graduate students. This primarily reflected service and collection gaps resulting from increasing enrollments and increasing expectations for faculty and graduate scholarship that contrasted sharply with library funding that was well below that found at benchmark institutions, a situation that continues to this day. However, this represented half as many cases of not meeting minimum expectations as were found in the 2006 survey. In the 2013 survey, there were also 12 such cases, 11 from faculty, 1 from graduate students, and none from undergraduates.

The 2016 survey was conducted in February, and the results show that improved personnel training programs and additional public seating helped reduce to 9 the number of instances where minimum expectations were not met. Undergraduate student minimum expectations were exceeded in all cases. Within the “Affect of Service” and “Library as Place” categories all minimum expectations of all patron categories were exceeded. In some cases perceived performance exceeded patrons’ desired expectations: graduate students praised “employees who are consistently courteous” and “space for group learning and group study”; faculty recognized “readiness to respond to users’ questions,” “a comfortable and inviting location,” and “space for group learning and group study.”

Faculty minimum expectations were not met in the following performance areas:

Information Control

IC-1     Making electronic resources accessible from my home or office
IC-2     A library Website enabling me to locate information on my own

IC-3     The printed library materials I need for my work

IC-4     The electronic information resources I need
IC-5     Modern equipment that lets me easily access needed information

IC-6     Easy-to-use access tools that allow me to find things on my own
IC-7     Making information easily accessible for independent use

IC-8     Print and/or electronic journal collections I require for my work

Graduate student minimum expectations were not met in one case, IC-1. It is important to note that the issue here is not that electronic resources are only accessible within Henderson Library. Faculty and graduate students are reporting that it is too difficult to navigate through the interfaces of the electronic resources, some of which are designed by Henderson Library but most of which are the proprietary interfaces of the vendors from whom we license content.

To address faculty and graduate student concerns, Henderson Library is taking the following steps:

  • Redesigning our Website (IC-2).
  • Replacing the legacy library management system by participating in the statewide implementation of a new online library system, Alma, which is designed to help patrons navigate resources efficiently and avoid the frustrations expressed in IC-1, IC-5, IC-6, and IC-7.
  • Seeking additional state and private funding to add new print and electronic resources (IC-3, IC-4, and IC-8).

With regard to the need for additional resources, the most recent data from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) shows that in 2014 Georgia Southern’s library budget represented $245.44 per FTE student, placing us 13th out of 14 peer and aspirational institutions who responded to the ACRL survey. The mean average library expenditures of our peer group was $396.19.

Survey respondents are also afforded the opportunity to provide general comments. Almost 400 respondents did so. By far the largest percentage of these responses praised some aspects of the Library (24.5%). Chief among the criticisms were the management of group study rooms (not enough rooms, too often being used by just one person, 12.1%) and the availability of parking (6.5%). The parking concerns are being shared with the University Administration. Regarding group study rooms, there are already close to thirty and there are no good options for creating more. However, with the exception of the quiet study fourth floor and the half of third floor where group study is not allowed, group study is encouraged throughout third floor and all of second and first floor. Public seating is easily rearranged as needed by groups, mobile whiteboards are available on all floors, and the wireless service enables patrons to access the campus network from laptops and mobile devices. We will continue to explore similar means of maximizing group study opportunities in the Library.

No other matters received half as much attention as parking. However, some faculty and graduate students wondered why they did not have access to many resources found on the websites of the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech libraries. The explanation is the resources in question are paid for by those individual libraries, not the statewide GALILEO consortium, and the libraries are billed according to the numbers of current FTE faculty and students at those institutions. Of course, the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech libraries have much larger budgets than Henderson Library and other University System of Georgia libraries, and therefore they subscribe to many resources that the rest of us cannot afford. However, those libraries do not have sufficient funding to pay for students and faculty at Georgia Southern University and other USG campuses to have access to licensed electronic resources. Just as Henderson Library’s and Georgia Southern University’s budgets have been flat for several years, so too has GALILEO’s budget been unable to keep up with increasing subscription costs.

Profile of 2016 LibQUAL+ Respondents:

Respondents by User Group:   

Undergraduate: 965 (79.03%)

Graduate: 169 (13.84%)

Faculty:  84 (6.88%)

Staff: 3 (0.25%)

Respondents by Discipline (Top Five):

Engineering/Computer Science: 184 (15.11%)

Health Sciences: 174 (14.29%)

Business: 163 (13.38%)

Social Sciences/Psychology: 153 (12.56%)

Education: 113 (9.28%)

This summary is brought to you by Dr. Bede Mitchell, Dean of the Library


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