LibQUAL 2012 (summary)

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During the spring 2010 and fall 2012 semesters, Texas Woman#s University Libraries participated in LibQual surveys. Offered by the Association of Research Libraries, LibQual has been used by over 1000 libraries around the world to analyze and improve services. TWU Libraries see LibQual participation as an opportunity to help the Libraries better understand user perceptions of library service quality and make improvements.

In an effort to include as many members of the university community as possible, the Libraries offered incentive prizes and sent email notices announcing the purpose of the survey and the prizes for participation. Participation in both years has come from every part of the University. In 2012, the survey was open from October 1-31, 2012. Thirteen hundred and seven undergraduates, graduates, faculty and staff from every discipline, every campus and the online learning environment completed the survey.


LibQual compares user perceptions of service against expectations. The survey measures three dimensions of service: Information Control (ease of finding information), Affect of Service (helpfulness of staff), and Library as Place (conduciveness of the physical environment for individual study, group work and inspiration). LibQual uses three scales to indicate the minimum level of service users would find acceptable, their desired service level, and the level of service they believe the libraries provide. To clarify their responses survey takers can add comments.

Survey results are measured with two scores — the service superiority gap and the service adequacy gap. The service superiority gap is calculated by subtracting the desired score from the perceived score on every question. Service superiority equals perceived minus desired service. The service adequacy score measures the difference between the minimum and the perceived score. The higher the service superiority and service adequacy scores, the better the library#s performance. In general, scores fall into a zone of tolerance that is less than desired and greater than the minimum. We are pleased that overall survey results indicate TWU Libraries are meeting user expectations.

The user perceptions results are summarized in charts and tables. Color coded radar charts aggregate the data and provide an overall understanding of user perceptions of service quality at a library. Radar graphs shaded in blue and yellow indicates that users# perceptions fall within the zone of tolerance. Green indicates superior service and red indicates less than minimum service. Bar charts represent the difference between the zone of tolerance and the perceived service. Tables summarize the data numerically. The full report is accessible from the Libraries webpages.

Using LIBQUAL Data to Inform Continuous Improvement


The 2012 survey results told us that TWU Libraries were meeting and in some cases exceeding service expectations; however, there were clear indications of areas for improvement # longer service hours, easier access to online information, and more quiet space. The Libraries began by sharing LibQual survey results with the Libraries# faculty and student advisory committees and seeking their input to gain a more granular understanding of service needs. The Student Advisory Committee was particularly instrumental in helping the Libraries make sustainable changes for improving services. The Libraries also incorporated LibQual data, community responses to library surveys soliciting input about the Libraries future, and strategic readings into a planning process that will guide the Libraries strategically over the next three years. Responses to LibQual and other data are below:

Information Control (Ease of Finding Information)

Simpler interfaces: In response to LibQual results indicating users desired easier access to library resources and with input from the Student Advisory Group the Libraries simplified the TWUniversal Search box.

Controlling results: During fall 2013 staff refined the advanced search interface clarifying users# options to limit results by searching across platforms or by selecting and limiting online catalog results.

Clarifying which database to use: With input from the Student Advisory Committee, reference staff began updating database descriptions to clarify content based on dates of coverage, availability of full text, and format. This project will be completed in Fall 2013.

Ongoing efforts: The Libraries Strategic Plan includes an initiative to improve web access to library services. The Libraries virtual presence will be re-thought and redesigned in order to enhance usability and anticipate evolving patron needs and expectations.

Library As Place

  • In Fall 2013 in an immediate response to LibQual comments that more desktop computers were needed, the Libraries added new furniture on the second and third floors in Blagg-Huey and the Office of Information Technology supplied 20 additional desktop computers.
  • In response to students# expectation that quiet areas would be managed, additional signs prompting students to work quietly were placed in the third floor quiet area and the night guard began patrolling the area more frequently.
  • The Libraries extended early morning and late night hours to accommodate students# desires for increased access to Blagg-Huey as a place to study during finals. The Libraries also added coffee breaks to accommodate late night studying.
  • Additional seating was ordered for the third floor study rooms.
  • In response to students# requests for more quiet study space, Blagg Huey library staff converted third floor conference rooms to study rooms from 6 pm to close of business.
  • In a bold move, the Libraries began working with the University Administration to repurpose library spaces. Garden level spaces in Blagg Huey are being upgraded to house library materials making it possible to create the Pioneer Center for Student Excellence in Blagg Huey and extend the Libraries# presence as an inviting student-centered community hub in which students can work individually and collaboratively receiving the range of assistance and services they need to be successful.

 Affect of Service (Helpfulness of Staff)

  • In response to students asking staff to enforce quiet, the Libraries began working with Student Life and the Department of Public Safety to address behaviors that fall outside accepted campus norms and standards.
  • In its strategic planning process the Libraries agreed to substantially contribute to academic excellence and student success through engagement and collaboration. To that end, the libraries plan to expand and strengthen our teaching role and educational impact by partnering with faculty and staff to advance and support students in their identification and effective use of information.