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Eastern Michigan University Library
Local Questions Dimension (Discussion of Results)
Bob Stevens, Humanities Librarian
The 2009 LibQUAL survey consisted of a core group of 22 questions designed to measure users’ perceptions and expectations of library service quality in the following three areas or dimensions: Personal Control, Affect of Service and Library as Place. There were also five additional Local Questions added by Halle Library to further customize the survey for our users. The questions in each of these areas will be discussed individually but the methodology is the same. Respondents were asked to rate on a scale of 1-9 (with 9 being the most favorable) not only their current perceptions of library service quality but to also indicate the minimum levels of service they are willing to accept and the desired levels of service they want to receive. The two important calculations that help us measure the satisfaction of our library users are the Service Adequacy Gap and the Service Superiority Gap. Positive numbers reveal we are doing well in an area while negative numbers reveal areas where improvement may be needed.
The Service Adequacy Gap is calculated by subtracting the minimum score from the perceived score on any given question and a positive score indicates that users’ perceptions of our service quality exceed their minimum expectations while a negative score means that users consider our service to be less than acceptable. The Service Superiority Gap is calculated by subtracting the desired score from the perceived score. Again, a positive number reflects very well on our serviced quality while a negative number reveals how large the gap is between the service users feel they are receiving and the service they desire.
The last dimension we will review contains local questions added by our library to supplement the core questions discussed in the other dimensions. These questions measure user satisfaction with our interlibrary loan services, our information literacy efforts and archives access. Some of these overlap with questions in other areas (and where this has happened it will be noted). It is also important to recognize that similar questions were asked in the 2003 survey.
The following are the statements/questions, respondents by type, brief discussions of the results and accompanying charts.
Question One. Convenience of borrowing books from other colleges. (571 total respondents- 371 undergraduates, 149 graduate students, 40 faculty, 13 library staff, 11 university staff)
Although our interlibrary loan services received positive adequacy gap scores from all user groups (with the most positive scores coming from library and university staff) there is evidence that we can still improve in this area, especially in the eyes of our graduate students. The largest gap between the perceived mean and the desired mean in this area came from our 149 graduate student respondents and indicates that they expect better service. It is important to note that when asked about these services in the 2003 survey (the question was broader in scope and phrased “Timely document delivery/interlibrary loan”) the ratings were much more critical when graduate students and faculty perceptions both fell below minimum expectations. The overall improvement in this area may in part be due to interlibrary loan services being enhanced by MEL (Michigan Electronic Library) book delivery. Question five in this dimension also measured our service in document delivery. The results, with the exception of faculty, were predictably similar.
Question Two. Teaching me how to locate, evaluate, and use information. (699 total respondents, 487 undergraduates, 164 graduate students, 35 faculty, 13 library staff, 13 university staff)
The encouraging scores received in this area suggest that librarians are doing a fine job in their information literacy efforts. It is also worth looking at some of the questions asked in the “Affect of Service” dimension that overlap this query (such as “Employees who understand the needs of their users” and “Employees who instill confidence in their users”). Results are similar in each. Every user group gave us positive adequacy gap scores with the highest coming from library and university staff (+1.15 and +1.23 respectively). Faculty were not far behind with a +.91 adequacy gap rating. This once again demonstrates a dramatic improvement from our 2003 survey in questions measuring our information literacy efforts.
Question Three. Access to archives, special collections. (586 total respondents, 408 undergraduates, 140 graduate students, 27 faculty, 12 library staff, 11 university staff)
Our 2003 survey asked users to rate us on “convenient access to library collections” and both graduate students and faculty told us that our service in this area fell below acceptable standards. Although the local question added in the 2009 survey is a bit more specific, the responses were much more positive with graduate students and faculty alike giving us positive adequacy gap scores. Faculty were the most satisfied with access to archives and special collections, registering a positive adequacy gap rating of +1.19 and a positive superiority gap rating of +.19. Graduate students proved again to be more critical, though (positive adequacy gap score of +.61 coupled with a superiority gap score of -.59).
Question Four. Space for students to study and work in groups. (712 total respondents, 504 undergraduates, 159 graduate students, 38 faculty, 12 library staff, 11 university staff)
Responses to this question were consistent with responses to “Community space for group learning and group study” in the “Library as Place” dimension (in fact, university staff respondents gave us identical scores). This confirms that we are doing well in this area. It bears repeating that the popularity of group study rooms produces both positive and negative feelings, though. Comments left by respondents send a clear message that demand for these spaces is high and more group study rooms are desired.
Question Five. Ease and timeliness in getting materials from other libraries. (545 total respondents, 352 undergraduates, 140 graduate students, 41 faculty, 13 library staff, 12 university staff)
Results to this final question resemble those of question one (which differed in that it asked respondents only to rate our ability to get books) but there is one interesting exception. The perceived mean of faculty exceeded the minimum mean when asked about document delivery services beyond books. This is a reversal of how faculty responded to question one. The result was a much better adequacy gap rating (+1.00 as compared to +.15). In fact, when looking at the above chart you will notice that the scores for this question were remarkably positive with perceived mean scores high above minimum mean scores. This is an incredibly positive way to end this dimension and demonstrates the fine job being done by our document delivery services.