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Frequently Asked Questions about LibQUAL+(TM)

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

What is LibQUAL+(TM)?

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+(TM) 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 (ARL) in collaboration with Texas A & M University.

What are the goals of LibQUAL+(TM)?

Why was LibQUAL+(TM) started?

Libraries are moving towards outcome-based assessment, instead of relying merely on input, output, or resource metrics. 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+(TM) 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. 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 survey at this time?

There are about 250 participating institutions around the world. View the list at the LibQUAL+(TM) Participants page.

What is the basis for the LibQUAL+(TM) 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 had 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), was refined with each iteration of the survey through the pilot phase (1999-2003).

How is LibQUAL+(TM) 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. All responses to the survey are entirely anonymous and cannot be linked to individual email addresses.

How do I know which discipline to pick?

You will need to match the UHM department, program, or school you are in to the Discipline headings used by the LibQUAL+(TM) Survey. The Discipline Choices 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?

Yes, results of combined data from the survey will be posted on this Web site.

How can I find out more information about LibQUAL+(TM)?

For more information, visit the LibQUAL+(TM) homepage at

If you have questions or comments about the University of Hawai'i's participation in the LibQUAL+(TM) survey, you may send them to

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