Alumnae Library
Anthony Fonseca
Library Director



LibQual FAQ

About the LibQUAL+TM Survey

Completing the Survey




About the LibQUAL+TM Survey

1. What is the LibQUAL+TM survey?
Service quality has always been the focus of libraries; LibQUAL+TM is intended to provide a measure of the value of library service quality across multiple academic and research libraries. The current LibQUAL+TM instrument measures library users' perceptions of their libraries' service quality and identifies gaps between minimal, desired, and perceived levels of service.

LibQUAL+TM is a suite of services that libraries use to solicit, track, understand, and act upon users' opinions of service quality. These services are offered to the library community by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The program's centerpiece is a rigorously tested web-based survey bundled with training that helps libraries assess and improve library services, change its organizational culture, and market the library. As of spring 2003, more than 400 institutions have participated in LibQUAL+TM, including colleges and universities, community colleges, health sciences libraries, law libraries, and public libraries-- some through various consortia, others as independent participants. LibQUAL+TM has also expanded internationally, with participating institutions in Canada, the UK, and Europe. The growing community of participants and its extensive dataset are rich resources for improving library services.

2. What does the survey measure?
The instrument addresses three service quality dimensions that have been found to be valid in previous assessments of library services: Effect of Service, Library as Place, and Information Control. Each question has three parts that ask respondents to indicate (1) the minimum service level they will accept, (2) the desired service level they expect, and (3) the perceived level of service currently provided. This design will permit analysis of gaps between expectations, perception, and minimum acceptance level of service.

3. How will this survey benefit the Elms community?
As individual libraries receive information about areas needing improvement, this project will allow libraries to compare their service quality with other peer institutions, to develop benchmarks, and to surface best practices across institutions. By using the LibQUAL+TM instrument and initiating action based on the results of this survey, the Alumnae Library can be more responsive to users' needs and provide services that are better aligned to users' expectations.

4. How and when is the Alumnae Library survey being conducted?
The data for all participating institutions will be collected on secure servers located in the Texas A&M University Library. Each response will be stored separately as it reaches the server, and survey results will ultimately be reported back to the participating institutions as aggregate mean score data. The Alumnae Library will receive initial results in May or June, and will share final results with the campus community in the fall.

5. Are responses confidential?
Yes. The LibQUAL+TM approach to confidentiality is guided by the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association (see, section 5). Although some information is captured from respondents, such as network and email address, privacy is protected in two ways. First, only 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 survey responses. Email addresses are not saved with the responses, therefore it is not possible to link an individual's responses back to their email address.

6. What survey instrument is being used?
The LibQUAL+TM survey evolved from a conceptual model based on the SERVQUAL instrument, a popular tool for assessing service quality in the private sector grounded in the "Gap Theory of Service Quality." It was developed by Leonard L. Berry (Distinguished Professor, Texas A&M University), A. Parasuraman, and Valarie A. Zeithaml. The Texas A&M University Libraries and other libraries used modified SERVQUAL instruments for several years; those applications revealed the need for a newly adapted tool that would serve the particular requirements of libraries. From 1999, ARL, representing the largest research libraries in North America, partnered with Texas A&M University Libraries to develop, test, and refine LibQUAL+TM. This effort was supported in part by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE).

The questionnaire is straightforward and involves no deception or coercion. Potential respondents may elect not to proceed with the survey after reading the guarantees of confidentiality and privacy.

7. Do all libraries use the same questions?
All libraries participating in the 2011 LibQUAL+TM survey will use the same 21 core questions and demographic questions. In addition, each library may select 5 questions from a list of 122 optional questions, though the Alumnae Library has optioned to not incorporate additional questions.

8. What other libraries are participating in LibQUAL+TM?
For a complete list of the 234 participating institutions, see:

9. How can I get more information about LibQUAL+TM?
For more information, see the LibQUAL+TM homepage at To e-mail the national headquarters for LibQUAL+TM, contact the Association for Research Libraries at

Completing the Survey

1. How long will the survey take?
The survey typically takes no longer than 10 minutes to complete.

2. Can I skip questions that don't apply to me?
Do not skip any questions in the LibQUAL+TM survey! If you do not wish to answer a question or feel a question does not apply to you, select N/A (not applicable). Surveys whose core questions are not completely filled out are not counted in the aggregate scores.

3. Will there be any special incentives for participating?

Students who complete the survey will be eligible for a randomzied drawing to win a $150.00 Visa gift card. The incentive is not available to faculty and staff of the college.

4. What web browsers are supported for the survey?
Any browser should work so long as it is not too old. The survey does not rely on erratically supported browser features such as Java or cookies.

5. Is the survey exclusively web-based or can I complete a paper version?
Respondents not able to complete an online questionnaire may obtain a paper copy of the survey by request at the Circulation desk.

6. Is the survey compatible with text-to-speech web browsers?
Yes, the survey is compatible with the JAWS screen reader software.

7. Why isn't the survey on an Elms College 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 secure Texas A & M servers.

8. If I deleted the email can I still take the survey?
Yes. You can get another copy of the web link, email:

9. What if I cannot open the URL from my email?
If you have trouble opening the URL from within your email message, you can copy the URL and paste it into your Web browser. If you still cannot access the survey, you can email

10. Why does the survey seem to repeat the same question(s)?
The survey examines a variety of dimensions of library services, each represented by a number of questions. Repetition or redundancy in questions allows the survey designers to analyze the validity of each service quality dimension through statistical methods.

11. Why are reminders sent to respondents who have already completed the survey?
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 separated, so we have no way of knowing who has already responded. Reminders, therefore, are distributed to everyone in the survey group.

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

12. What discipline category should I choose for my major or area of research?
Because this survey is taken by students at many colleges and universities, discipline categories have been standardized for ease of comparison. This will assist with future benchmarking activities.

Elms Disciplines/MajorsDivisionCorresponding LibQUAL Discipline
Applied TheologyHumanities & Fine ArtsHumanities
Asian StudiesHumanities & Fine ArtsHumanities
Autism Spectrum DisordersCommunication Sciences & DisordersHealth Sciences
BiologyNatural Sciences & MathScience/Math
Business ManagementBusinessBusiness
Healthcare ManagementBusinessBusiness
International Studies/BusinessBusinessBusiness
Sport ManagementBusinessBusiness
Master of Business AdministrationBusinessBusiness
Communication Sciences &DisordersCommunication Sciences & DisordersHealth Sciences
Speech and Language Pathology AssistantCommunication Sciences & DisordersHealth Sciences
Early ChildhoodEducationEducation
English as a Second LanguageEducationEducation
Moderate special NeedsEducationEducation
Secondary EducationEducationEducation
Fine ArtsFine ArtsPerforming & Fine Arts
MusicFine ArtsPerforming & Fine Arts
TheaterFine ArtsPerforming & Fine Arts
EnglishHumanities & Fine ArtsHumanities
HistoryHumanities & Fine ArtsHumanities
Irish StudiesHumanities & Fine ArtsHumanities
PhilosophyHumanities & Fine ArtsHumanities
Religious StudiesHumanities & Fine ArtsHumanities
SpanishHumanities & Fine ArtsHumanities
Liberal ArtsHumanities & Fine ArtsGeneral studies
Legal StudiesLawLaw
Paralegal StudiesLawLaw
ChemistryNatural Sciences & MathScience/Math
MathematicsNatural Sciences & MathScience/Math
Natural SciencesNatural Sciences & MathScience/Math
Pre-health pre-medical professionalNatural Sciences & MathHealth Sciences
Legal Nurse ConsultingNursingHealth Sciences
NursingNursingHealth Sciences
Criminal Justice (Legal Studies)Social SciencesSocial Sciences/Psychology
Criminal Justice (Sociology)Social SciencesSocial Sciences/Psychology
PsychologySocial SciencesSocial Sciences/Psychology
Social WorkSocial SciencesSocial Sciences/Psychology
SociologySocial SciencesSocial Sciences/Psychology
Computer Information and TechnologyTechnologyEngineering/Computer Science


1. What will be done with the survey results?
Survey data is transmitted directly from the LibQUAL+TM server to a database. The data is 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 the Alumnae Library to align services with user expectations.

2. 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 web on a password protected website. Users' comments (from the comments section) will be made available exclusively to the users' institution.

3. What do the survey results look like?
Survey results will include aggregate summaries, demographics, item summaries, dimension summaries, and dimensions measured for survey implementation.

4. Where and when will results be posted?

Results will be compiled in a report that will be posted on the library web site and in the fall issue of the library newsletter.



1. Where can I find more information about LibQUAL+TM?
The official home page of LibQUAL+TM is located at Click on the "About" link to find information about the origins of LibQUAL+TM, the people involved, how the project is funded, and a bibliography. If you have questions about the survey, please contact the Alumnae Library LibQUAL team at

2. Who can I talk to about the survey?
Contact the LibQUAL+ team: