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What is the LibQUAL+ survey?

Service quality has always been the focus of libraries; LibQUAL+ is intended to provide a measure of the value of library service quality across multiple academic and research libraries. The current LibQUAL+ instrument measures library users' perceptions of their libraries' service quality and identifies gaps between minimal, desired and perceived levels of service.

Concordia University Library will use LibQUAL+ to solicit, track, understand, and act upon users' opinions of service quality. LibQUAL+ is 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. The growing community of participants and its extensive dataset are rich resources for improving library services.

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What does the survey measure?

The instrument addresses three service quality dimensions that have been found to be valid in previous assessments of library services: Affect of Service, Library as Place, Information Control. Each question has three parts that ask respondents to indicate (1) the minimum service level they will accept, (2) the desired service level they expect, and (3) the perceived level of service currently provided. This design will permit analysis of gaps between expectations, perception, and minimum acceptance level of service. In addition, it will reveal which services are vital to our users, with the highest scores for desired level.

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How will this survey benefit Concordia?

As individual libraries receive information about areas needing improvement, this project will allow libraries to compare their service quality with other peer institutions, to develop benchmarks, and to surface best practices across institutions. By using the LibQUAL+ instrument and initiating action based on the results of this survey, Concordia University Library can be more responsive to users' needs and provide services that are better aligned to users' expectations.

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Are responses confidential?

Yes. The LibQUAL+ approach to confidentiality is guided by the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association. Although some information is captured from respondents, such as network and email addresses, privacy is protected in two ways. First, only very indirect information is captured which would be difficult to trace back to an individual. Second, everything possible is done to separate personal information from survey responses. Email addresses are not saved with the responses, and once they are saved there is no way to link an individual's responses to their email address.

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What survey instrument is being used?

The LibQUAL+ survey evolved from a conceptual model based on the SERVQUAL instrument, a popular tool for assessing service quality in the private sector grounded in the "Gap Theory of Service Quality". It was developed by Leonard L. Berry (Distinguished Professor, Texas A&M University), A. Parasuraman, and Valarie A. Zeithaml. 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. From 1999, 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).

Concordia University Library has decided to implement the LibQual Lite version of the survey. By using this shorter form, we ensure that no respondent will have to answer more than 19 questions (not counting demographic items) compared with 34 questions for the full LibQual survey that was done in the past. The average time to complete LibQual Lite is only 6 minutes.

The questionnaire is straightforward and involves no deception or coercion. Potential respondents may elect not to proceed with the survey after reading the guarantees of confidentiality and privacy.

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Do all libraries use the same questions?

All libraries participating in the 2010 LibQUAL+ survey use the same 33 core questions and demographic questions. In addition, each Library may select 5 questions from a list of 122 optional questions. Concordia University Library has opted to select the same five optional questions that were decided upon by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), so that we may compare our results with those of other Canadian academic institutions.

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How can I get more information about LibQUAL?

For more information, see the LibQUAL+(TM) homepage at To e-mail the national headquarters for LibQUAL+, contact the Association for Research Libraries at

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What will be done with survey results?

Survey data are transmitted directly from the LibQUAL+ server to a database. The data are then analyzed and reports are generated for individual libraries that provide information on how users perceive the quality of their service. Participating institutions will have access to summary results for each institution, allowing for comparisons among peer institutions and all participating academic institutions. This will aid in developing benchmarks and understanding best practices across institutions, and will help Concordia University Library to align services with user expectations.

To learn more about initiatives taken by the Library in response to feedback gathered in LibQUAL+ 2013, see our Response to LibQUAL+ Survey Feedback page.

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What information is shared with other institutions?

Summary statistics only are shared with other institutions. The survey summary results will be made available to participants via the World Wide Web on a password-protected Web site. Users' comments (from the comments section) will be made available only to the users' institution.

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What do the survey results look like?

Survey results include aggregate summaries, demographics by library, item summaries, dimension summaries, and dimensions measured for survey implementation.

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