From: Merrill Johnson, University Librarian
In March of 2008 George Fox University libraries participated in LibQUAL, a survey that measures patron perceptions of library service. The survey, which was administered through the Association of Research Libraries, has been used at over 1,000 libraries since 2000. Over 800 George Fox students, faculty, and staff completed the survey.
Respondents were asked to rank statements about the level of Affect of Services (staff and services), Information Control (print and online resources, and ease of access), and Library as Place (facility and space) on a scale of 1 to 9. Each statement was ranked for minimum acceptable level, desired level, and perceived level. Perceived levels that fell between the minimum and desired level are considered within the zone of tolerance. Perceived levels falling below the minimum level of acceptable are considered problem areas. Respondents were also asked to indicate frequency of library use, overall satisfaction, and literacy outcomes. Additional comments were possible through a comments box. It is possible to analyze scores by demographic characteristics such as discipline (though disciplines on the survey do not directly match all George Fox disciplines), user group (faculty, grad or undergrad student, staff), and user sub-group (e.g., freshman, sophomore, masters, associate professor, etc.).
LibQUAL is a web based survey; links to the survey were e-mailed to all faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate students. Overall response by user group:
- Undergraduates: 432
- Graduates: 262
- Faculty: 77
- Total staff: 54
Some major findings
- Grouped as a whole, users ranked all aspects of the library within the zone of tolerance. However, there were variations within groups. Graduate students ranked “print and/or electronic journal collections I require for my work” slightly below the minimally adequate level, and university staff ranked “a library web site enabling me to locate information on my own” as less than minimally adequate. It should also be noted that analysis of user scores from some specific disciplines reveal occasional rankings as less than minimally adequate.
- On a scale of 1 to 9, user perception of all aspects of the library was ranked as 7.25. “How would you rate the overall quality of the service provided by the library” was 7.46.
- Analysis of minimum and desired levels indicate that generally most users place most importance on information control.
- More specific rankings from all users (excluding library staff), undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and non-library staff are available for review.
- While still generally within the zone of tolerance, scores pertaining to the library’s web site have been relatively low. Just before the start of fall semester, 2008, the library brought up a completely redesigned web site, which represents a major improvement. We have already received numerous compliments on the new pages.
- Although the average ranked score was within the zone of tolerance, there were a number of comments indicating concern with the noise level in the MLRC (Newberg library). With the start of fall semester, 2008, the library instituted “quiet zones” to help users distinguish between areas where quiet should be observed and other areas where group conversation would be acceptable. We believe this is already making a positive difference.
- We are still in the process of analyzing survey data, especially at more specific levels such as discipline or location (e.g., students served at the Newberg library, the Portland Center library, or from other locations). We anticipate additional recommendations and changes in 2009.