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York University Libraries > LibQUAL FAQ’s

LibQUAL FAQ’s

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Frequently Asked Questions About LibQUAL+®

Beginning in mid-February 2013 a random sample of York University faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students will be invited to participate in the web-based LibQUAL+® survey. LibQUAL+® is a service quality assessment project sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The survey is designed to measure library users’ perceptions of service quality and identify gaps between desired, perceived, and minimum expectations of service.

More than 1,000 educational and research institution in over 17 countries have participated in the past. By participating, York University Libraries can identify where our services meet or indeed exceed expectations, where our services need improvement in the eyes of our users, and can compare our service quality with that of peer institutions in an effort to develop benchmarks and gain an understanding of best practices across institutions.

York University Libraries has participated in LibQUAL+® in 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2010.


  1. What is LibQUAL+® ?
  2. What are the goals of LibQUAL+ ®?
  3. How will LibQUAL+® benefit library users?
  4. What is the origin of the LibQUAL+® survey instrument?
  5. How is LibQUAL+® conducted?
  6. What are the elements of the LibQUAL+® survey itself?
  7. How long does it take to complete the survey?
  8. How are participants chosen to participate in the survey?
  9. What about confidentiality?
  10. Is it possible to complete the LibQUAL+® survey if not selected as part of the random sample?
  11. Will the results of the survey be made available?
  12. Who can I contact at York if I have further questions?
  13. Is there more information on LibQUAL® survey?

1. What is LibQUAL+® ?

LibQUAL+® is a suite of services that libraries use to solicit, track, understand, and act upon users’ opinions of service quality. These services are offered to the library community by the Association of Research Libraries ( ARL). The program’s centerpiece is a rigorously tested Web-based survey bundled with training that helps libraries assess and improve library services, change organizational culture, and market the library.

More than 500 libraries have participated in LibQUAL+®, including colleges and universities, community colleges, health sciences libraries, law libraries, and public libraries — some through various consortia, others as independent participants. LibQUAL+® has expanded internationally, with participating institutions in Canada, the U.K., and Europe. The growing LibQUAL+® community of participants and its extensive dataset are rich resources for improving library services.

2. What are the goals of LibQUAL® ?

The goals of LibQUAL+® are to:

  • Foster a culture of excellence in providing library service
  • Help libraries better understand user perceptions of library service quality
  • Collect and interpret library user feedback systematically over time
  • Provide libraries with comparable assessment information from peer institutions
  • Identify best practices in library service
  • Enhance library staff members’ analytical skills for interpreting and acting on data

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3. How will LibQUAL+® benefit library users?

LibQUAL+® gives library users a chance to evaluate some of the services provided by York University Libraries. We may be able to develop services that better meet our users’ expectations by comparing our data with that of peer institutions and examining the practices of those libraries that are evaluated highly by their users.

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4. What is the origin of the LibQUAL+® survey instrument?

The LibQUAL+® survey evolved from a conceptual model based on the SERVQUAL instrument, a popular tool for assessing service quality in the private sector. The Texas A&M University Libraries and other libraries used modified SERVQUAL instruments for several years; those applications revealed the need for a newly adapted tool that would serve the particular requirements of libraries. ARL, representing the largest research libraries in North America, partnered with Texas A&M University Libraries to develop, test, and refine LibQUAL+® . This effort was supported in part by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE).

5. How is LibQUAL+® conducted?

A random sample of York University faculty and students will be invited by email to take the survey. The email will include the survey’s URL for accessing the online survey form. There are two versions of the survey: 50% of the surveys will be full versions of the survey, and the other 50% will be short versions (called LibQUAL+® Lite).

Respondents complete the survey and their answers are sent to a central database. The data are analyzed by Association of Research Libraries researchers, and will be presented to York University Libraries in reports describing users’ desired, perceived, and minimum expectations of service.

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6. What are the elements of the LibQUAL+® survey itself?

LibQUAL+® consists of a series of core questions, some demographics questions and a comments box. The questions measure user perceptions of Affect of Service , Library as Place, and Information Control. The comments box secures open-ended comments from users regarding their concerns and suggestions. These comments are an integral part of LibQUAL+®; historically, almost 40 percent of respondents provide comments using the box. There are three parts to many of the questions: respondents are asked to indicate the minimum service level they will accept, the desired service level they expect, and the level of service they perceive to be currently provided.

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7. How long does it take to complete the survey?

It takes about 7-15 minutes to complete the survey, depending on whether you are completing the full survey or the shorter LibQUAL+® Lite version.

8. How are participants chosen to participate in the survey?

York University Libraries is randomly selecting a sample of 5000 undergraduate students, 1200 graduate students and all faculty to whom the invitation will be sent.

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9. What about confidentiality?

The LibQUAL+® approach to confidentiality is guided by the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association ( see APA Online, note section 4 ). Responses do not include email addresses and other information identifying individuals. In addition, responses will only be used in the aggregate survey analyses, and will be treated with the strictest confidentiality.

10. Is it possible to complete the LibQUAL+® survey if not selected as part of the random sample?

We are always glad to receive feedback from users whether or not your comments are related to LibQUAL+®. Your input is important in helping us establish priorities and improve services and collections. If you are not part of the LibQUAL+® random sample but would like to complete a survey or just provide commentary on aspects of the Libraries’ service, please contact libqual@yorku.ca However, only the completed surveys of those selected by the random sample will be forwarded to LibQUAL+® for multi-institutional analysis and comparison.

11. Will the results of the survey be made available?

Once the data analysis is complete and available to us, we will keep the York community informed as to outcomes through postings on our website and via such channels as the Library News blog .

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12. Who can I contact at York if I have further questions?

You can contact Catherine Davidson or Aaron Lupton at libqual@yorku.ca

13. Is there more information on the LibQUAL+® survey?

For more information, see the LibQUAL+® homepage at http://www.libqual.org .

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LibQUAL+® is a registered trademark of the Association of Research Libraries.