LibQUAL+ Triads FAQs



Frequently Asked Questions About LibQUAL+® Triads


1. What is LibQUAL+® Triads?

LibQUAL+® Triads is an online survey used by libraries to solicit, track, understand, and act upon users’ opinions of service quality. LibQUAL+® Triads is one component of the LibQUAL+® suite of services which is offered to the library community by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). LibQUAL+® Triads is  bundled with training that helps libraries assess and improve library services, change organizational culture, and market the library.  LibQUAL+® Triads differs from LibQUAL+® because it tests the validity of an individual’s responses to the survey.  The survey will run from April 2-8, 2012.  

2.  Why is the LibQUAL+® Triads survey important?

 We conduct the full LibQUAL+® survey regularly (see our LibQUAL webpage for information on previous results).  Sometimes the responses provided by an individual can be contradictory.  This Triad version of the survey is important because it helps us better understand what our students are telling us.

3. What are the goals of LibQUAL® Triads?

The goals of LibQUAL+® Triads 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

4. How will LibQUAL+® Triads benefit library users?

LibQUAL+® Triads 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.

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

The LibQUAL+® Triads protocol is an extension of the standard LibQUAL+® survey which 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).

6. How is LibQUAL +® Triads conducted?

A random sample of York University undergraduate and graduate students will be invited by email to take the survey. The email will include the survey’s URL for accessing the online survey form. Respondents complete the survey and their answers are sent to a central database. The data are analyzed by Association of Research Libraries (ARL) researchers; their reports will be delivered to York University Libraries.

7. What are the elements of the LibQUAL +® Triads survey?

LibQUAL+® Triads consists of a series of core questions and some demographics questions. The questions measure user perceptions of Affect of Service, Library as Place, and Information Control. The survey presents the respondent with 20 triads which each combine three of six core items to be ranked by the user. Within each triad, one choice must be ranked “BEST”, one choice must be ranked “WORST”, and one choice must be rated in the middle.

8. Why is the LibQUAL+® Triads survey repetitive?

The LibQUAL+® Triads protocol is designed to provide a more granular and well-rounded examination of users’ perceptions of library service quality. To achieve this, the LibQUAL+® Triads protocol makes use of intraindividual reliability coefficients which, by design, require that the same question items be ranked repeatedly so that reliable responses can be identified. York University Libraries is committed to capturing the consistent views of our users and believes the LibQUAL+® Triads survey is a strong contributor to this aim.

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

5 – 8 minutes.

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

York University Libraries is randomly selecting a sample of 2600 undergraduate students and 600 graduate students.  Every effort will be made to exclude the sample of undergraduate and graduate students selected for the LibQUAL+® Triads from the sample of students selected the next time the full LibQUAL+® survey is conducted at York University Libraries in 2013. 

11. What about confidentiality?

The LibQUAL +® Triads 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.

12. Is it possible to complete the LibQUAL +® Triads 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 +® Triads. Your input is important in helping us establish priorities and improve services and collections. If you are not part of the LibQUAL +® Triads random sample but would like to complete a survey or just provide commentary on aspects of the Libraries’ service, please contact

13. 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.

14. Who can I contact at York University Libraries if I have further questions?

You can contact Catherine Davidson or Aaron Lupton at

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

For more information, see the LibQUAL+® homepage at

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

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