University of Hawaii at Manoa Library

Frequently Asked Questions about LibQUAL+

What is LibQUAL+?
Goals of LibQUAL+
How did LibQUAL+ begin? Benefits of LibQUAL+
Participating Institutions
Basis for the Survey
Conducting LibQUAL+ How do I know which discipline to select?
Results of Survey
More Information

What is LibQUAL+?

LibQUAL+(TM) is a research and development project undertaken to define and measure library service quality across institutions and to create useful quality-assessment tools for local planning. LibQUAL+ provides a means to measure the quality of service to users. It measures library users' perceptions of service quality and identifies gaps between desired, perceived, and minimum expectations of service.

The project is undertaken by the Association of Research Libraries in collaboration with Texas A&M University as one of the ARL New Measures Initiatives.

What are the goals of LibQUAL+?

1. to develop web-based tools for assessing library service quality
2. to develop mechanisms and protocols for evaluating libraries
3. to identify best practices in providing library service; and
4. to establish a library service quality assessment program at ARL.

Why was LibQUAL+ started?

There is increasing pressure for libraries to move towards 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 may show how well an organization serves its users; they demonstrate an institution's efficiency and effectiveness. LibQUAL+(TM) is one of several outcome-based assessment efforts begun under the ARL New Measures Initiative.

How will LibQUAL+ benefit library users?

Individual libraries participating in LibQUAL+(TM) 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; for this reason, several library consortia and other peer groups have chosen to participate in LibQUAL+(TM). By initiating action based on the information they receive from their library users and from other LibQUAL+(TM) 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.

Who else is participating in this project?

There are over 300 participating institutions.

What is the basis for the LibQUAL+ survey instrument?

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. 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).

How is LibQUAL+ conducted?

LibQUAL+ is a Web-based survey. 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+(TM) server to a database. The combined 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.

How do I know which discipline to pick?

You will need to match the department or school you are in to the Discipline headings used by the LibQUAL+ Survey. The Discipline Heading table should help you if you are unsure which discipline heading to choose on the survey. If you encounter any difficulties in completing the survey, please contact us at

Will I be able to see the results of the survey?

Results of combined data from the survey will be posted on this Website.

How can I find out more information about LibQUAL+?

For more information, visit the LibQUAL+(TM) homepage at or e-mail the organization at

If you have questions or comments about the University of Hawaii's participation in the LibQUAL+ project, you may send them to
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