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Florida A&M University Libraries Survey 2006 FAQ

To measure the effectiveness of services and to identify best practices, your University Libraries are conducting LibQUAL TM, a library service quality survey. This page provides answers to frequently asked questions about LibQUAL TM. These  FAQs are based on those developed at other universities that have administered LibQUAL and the LibQUAL FAQ at http://www.libqual.org. If this page does not answer your question, send email to libqual@famu.edu.   

Find out about the prizes!

Informed Consent Notice:
Please read this document carefully if you have questions before you decide to take the survey. The purpose of this survey research is to help the FAMU Libraries measure library service quality. The results of the survey will help us to better respond to your expectations for library and information services. This survey is intended to reach all of our registered students and faculty. An invitation to participate was mailed a week before the survey date to students and faculty who have applied for e-mail service from FAMU Information Technology Services. A follow up e-mail containing the URL address of the survey was then sent with a request for you to participate. If you choose to participate in the survey you will benefit because the FAMU Libraries will be able to better assess the returns on their annual investment in terms of user evaluations of service quality.  Strengths and weaknesses across the several dimensions defining service quality will be identified; and best practices among participating universities will surface, allowing libraries to work collegially with other institutions to improve local practices. It takes approximately 15-20 minutes to complete the survey. There are 43 questions.   Your participation in this survey is completely voluntary. The questionnaire is straightforward and involves no deception or coercion.  The data will be collected on secure servers located in the main library data center of the coordinating institution, Texas A&M University.  FAMU Libraries will receive only aggregate mean score data.  Individual responses of participants will be wholly confidential. E-mail addresses will be separated from responses to protect the confidentiality and identity of the respondent.  There are no risks.  You are free to decline to participate in the survey and can choose to leave the survey without finishing it.   There will be no compensation to participants except for incentives that have been solicited from vendors. Fifty e-mail addresses will be saved separately from the survey for the purpose of awarding incentives for participation. These addresses will be used for a drawing for prizes, and then destroyed. Persons will be contacted only to inform them of a prize award. It will not be possible to determine how awardees have responded to the survey. This research survey has been approved by the Institutional Review Board for projects involving human subjects at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University.   Please use the contact information provided on the survey and this web site if you have any questions about the survey.  For more information about your rights as a research participant please contact the Florida A&M University Review Board at 204 South Perry Paige Building, Tallahassee, FL 32307-4100 or phone 850-599-8816.  By completing the survey, you indicate that you agree to the conditions of this project and give voluntary consent for participation.

Overview of the LibQUAL Survey   

  1. What is LibQUAL ?

Completing the Survey

  1. How long will the survey take?
  2. What kind of questions does the survey ask?
  3. Why does the survey seem to repeat the same question(s)?
  4. Can I skip questions that don't apply to me?
  5. What Web browsers are supported for the survey?
  6. Why isn't the survey at a FAMU Web address?
  7. Why do I keep getting survey reminders?
  8. Can I take the survey if I didn't receive the FAMUINFO message?


  1. What will be done with the survey results?
  2. What information is shared with other institutions?
  3. What do the survey results look like?
  4. Where and when will results be posted?




Overview of LibQUAL

1. What is LibQUAL ?

LibQual is a research and development project sponsored by the Associate of Research Libraries (ARL) in collaboration with the Texas A&M University Libraries. The project’s goal is to define and measure library service quality across institutions and to create useful quality-assessment tools for libraries. A total of 209 institutions, representing some of the largest research libraries in the world, are participating in the Spring 2004 LibQUAL ™ survey project.(back to Overview).

2. How was LibQUAL developed?

The LibQUAL (TM) survey instrument is adapted from an instrument called SERVQUAL, which is grounded in the "Gap Theory of Service Quality" and was developed by the marketing research team of A. Parasuraman, V.A. Zeithaml, and L.L. Berry. Ruth Maddox Swan, Associate Director of Libraries, Florida A&M University modified SERVQUAL for use in libraries in 1998. The Texas A&M University Libraries and other libraries have been using modified SERVQUAL instruments for several years. These applications showed the need for a newly adapted SERVQUAL protocol that serves the needs of libraries; thus LibQUAL (TM) was born. The original SERVQUAL instrument was regrounded based on a series of interviews with library users. The regrounded instrument, called LibQUAL (TM), is being refined with each iteration of the survey through the pilot phase (1999-2003) (back to Overview).

3. Why is the survey important?

There is increasing pressure for libraries to move towards more outcome-based assessment, instead of relying merely on input, output, or resource metrics. This pressure comes from funding authorities as well as users themselves. Outcome measures show how well an organization serves its users: they demonstrate an institution’s efficiency and effectiveness. The LibQUAL ™ is one of several outcome-based assessment efforts begun under the ARL New Measures Initiative. (back to Overview)

4. How is the survey conducted?

New technology and the use of the Internet make it possible for libraries to survey their users with minimal local effort. LibQUAL (TM) uses a scalable web interface and protocol to ask library users about their library service expectations. Each participating library gathers a random sample of email addresses representative of their user population and sends a message to the sample encouraging recipients to complete the survey on the Web. Survey data are transmitted directly from the central LibQUAL server to a database. The data are then analyzed and reports that provide information on how users perceive the quality of their library services are generated for the individual libraries. The reports present information on the gaps between users' desired, perceived, and minimally acceptable levels of service (back to Overview).

5. What does the survey measure?

The instrument addresses four service quality dimensions that have been found to be valid in previous assessments of library services: service affect, library as place, personal control, and information access. Each question has three parts that ask respondents to indicate the minimum service level they will accept, the desired service level they expect, and the perceived level of service currently provided. This design will permit analysis of gaps between expectations, perception, and minimum acceptance level of service (back to Overview).

6. What are the goals of LibQUAL ?

The goals of LibQUAL (TM) include:

  • to develop web-based tools for assessing library service quality
  • to develop mechanisms and protocols for evaluating libraries
  • to identify best practices in providing library service
  • to establish a library service quality assessment program at ARL

(back to Overview)

7. How will the survey benefit library users at FAMU?

Individual libraries participating in LibQUAL can identify where their services need improvement, in the view of their users. They also can compare their service quality with that of peer institutions in an effort to develop benchmarks and understanding of best practices across institutions. By initiating action based on the information they receive from their library users and from other LibQUAL participants, libraries can provide services that are more closely aligned with user expectations. As library services are improved, the ultimate goal is to surpass user expectations in search of excellent library services that better help users to reach their learning and research objectives (back to Overview).

8. How can I get more information about LibQUAL ?

For more information, see the LibQUAL homepage at http://www.LibQUAL.org. To e-mail the national headquarters for LibQUAL , contact the Association for Research Libraries at LibQUAL@arl.org.

9. Are survey results confidential?

Although the network address and email address is captured, your privacy is protected in two ways. First, 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 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. This process ensures their confidentiality when entering the incentive drawings.

(Back to Overview).

Completing the Survey

1. How long will the survey take?

The survey has 43 questions, and it typically takes from 10 to 15 minutes to complete. (Back to Completing the Survey)

2. What kind of questions does the survey ask?

The survey is broken into 2 parts: demographic data, and 25 survey questions which ask you to rate a series of statements. You'll be asked to click a radio button to indicate:

  • The number that represents the minimum level of service that you would find acceptable (minimum).
  • The number that represents the level of service that you personally want for this item as we provide it for you (desired).
  • The number that represents the level of service that you believe our library currently provides on this service issue (perceived).

3. Why does the survey seem to repeat the same question(s)?

Repetition or redundancy in questions allows the survey designers to analyze the validity of each service quality dimension through statistical methods. Over time, questions that are not as effective as others in measuring the specific dimensions of service quality will be discarded. (Back to Completing the Survey)

4. Can I skip questions that don't apply to me?

Do not skip any questions in the LibQUAL survey! Surveys that are not completely filled out are discarded. If you feel a question does not apply to you, select NA (not applicable). (back to Completing the Survey)

5. What Web browsers are supported for the survey?

The LibQUAL survey has been developed to work in many settings, including public libraries and community colleges. It does not rely on erratically supported browser features such as Java or cookies. Any browser should work so long as it is not too old. At FAMU, use of Netscape 4.7 and up, and Internet Explorer 5.5 and up are recommended.

6. Why isn't the survey at a FAMU Web address?

The survey is administered through the Association of Research Libraries and Texas A & M University, and the survey and data are housed on Texas A & M servers. (Back to Completing the Survey)

7. I've completed the survey but I'm getting reminders sent via email.

Due to security and confidentiality features, everyone surveyed will receive reminders, even those who have already responded. When submitted, survey responses and identifying information are immediately disaggregated, so we have no way of knowing who has already responded. Reminders, therefore, are distributed to everyone in the survey group.

Reminders are sent because research indicates that the single highest predictor of response rate in Web-based surveys is the number of contacts made, including reminders. See Cook, Heath, and Thompson (2000). A meta-analysis of response rates in web- or Internet-based survey. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 60, 821-836.

(Back to Completing the Survey)

8. Can I take the survey if I didn't receive the FAMUINFO message?

If you would like to complete a survey, but did not receive the email message, contact LibQUAL@famu.edu to request a survey. (Back to Completing the Survey)



What will be done with the 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 FAMU to align services with user expectations. (Back to Results).

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 to the users' institution. (Back to Results)

What do the survey results look like?

Survey results will include aggregate summaries, demographics by library, item summaries, dimension summaries, and dimensions measured for survey implementation. For examples of results, see the Webliography at the bottom of this FAQ.(back to Results)

Where and when will results be posted?

Results will be compiled in a report that will be posted at this Web site, announced in Library and Technology Services LTS Connection, and summarized in other campus publications. LibQUAL reports from other institutions can be viewed on the Web. To provide some idea of the kind of analyses possible with LibQUAL , see the Webliography. (back to Results)

   Prizes!!!!!Following the completion of the survey process, 50 of the LibQUAL survey participants will be randomly selected from the pool of all FAMU participants.

Prizes are as follows:
 Dimension 3100 Desktop computer courtesy of Dell

*  iPod courtesy of Culpepper Construction Company, Inc., FAMU Credit Union, and Alpha Travel

*  Two $50.00 gift certificates to the Bonefish Grill courtesy of CSA

*  $25.00 gift certificate to the Fresh Market courtesy of H.W. Wilson

*  Four $25.00 gift certificates to the FAMU bookstore courtesy of New. Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church

25 free meals at the Jazzman Café courtesy of FAMU Dining Services
*  25 free 16 oz. cups of Fresh Brew from Jazzman’s Café courtesy of FAMU Dining Services

*  Four Gift baskets ($50.00 value) from Barnes and Nobles bookstore at FAMU

*  Breakfast for Two from Olean's Cafe

Smaller tokens of appreciation will be provided at the main library and branches while supplies last.


Web sites

Association of Research Libraries (http://www.arl.org)

LibQUAL Web site (http://www.liqual.org)

For examples of LibQUAL experiences at other institutions, see Web sites of this selected list of participants:

(back to Webliography)


Cook, C. (2002). The maturation of assessment in academic libraries: The role of LibQUAL TM (special issue). Performance Measurement and Metrics, 3(2), 34-112.

Cook, C., Heath, F. & Thompson, B. (in press). "Zones of tolerance" in perceptions of library service quality: A LibQUAL TM study. portal: Libraries and the Academy. [out in January, 2003]

Heath, F., Cook, C., Kyrillidou, M., & Thompson, B. (2002). ARL Index and other validity correlates of LibQUAL TM scores. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 2, 27-42.

Swan, R. M. (1998). Perceived performance and disconfirmation of expectations as measures of customer satisfaction with information services in the academic library. Dissertation Abstracts International, 59 10A.

Thompson, B., Cook, C., & Thompson, R.L. (2002). Reliability and structure of LibQUAL TM scores. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 2, 3-12.

Selected citations focusing on customer service (pdf). by Parasuraman, A.

Parasuraman, A., Berry, L.L., and Zeithaml, VA (1988). SERVQUAL: A multiple-item scale for measuring customer perceptions of service quality Journal of Retailing 64 (1) Spring. 12-40.

Parasuraman, A., Berry, L.L., And Zeithaml, VA (1991). Refinement and reassessment of the SERVQUAL scale. Journal of Retailing 67 (4) Winter. 420-450.

Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, VA, and Berry, L.L. (1985). A conceptual model of service quality and its implications for future research. Journal of Marketing 49 (4) Fall, 41-50.

Thompson, B., & Cook, C. (2002). Stability of the reliability of LibQUAL TM scores: A "Reliability Generalization" meta-analysis study. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 62, 735-743.

Thompson, B, & Cook, C. Thompson, B; Cook, C, (2002). The LibQUAL gap measurement model: the bad, the ugly, and the good of gap measurement.

Zeithaml, VA; Parasuraman, A. (1990). Five imperatives for improving service quality. Sloan Management Review, summer 1990, 29-38.

(Back to Webliography)