Bonna Boettcher, Head of Special Collections
BGSU and more than 160 institutions nationwide recently participated in the LibQual+ study, a joint project of Texas A & M University (TAMU) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). Funded by a three-year research and development grant from the Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), researchers are refining a tool to measure users’ perceptions of library services. The tool is based on the ServQual total market survey instrument, developed by Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry. Employing the “gap” model, the survey requires participants to identify for a series of statements their minimum acceptable level of service, desired level of service, and the level their perception of the current level of service.
During March and April 2002, University Libraries LibQual+ committee members administered the survey. 523 BGSU undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff completed the survey, generating 507 usable responses. We received summary reports of the results in early July and the complete data set in early August. We extend our thanks to all BGSU community members who participated in the survey. ARL staff conducted a drawing for our local incentives-four $25.00 gift certificates from the BGSU bookstore-and the prizes were mailed to the winners early in June. Members of BGSU’s LibQual+ task force have been reviewing and analyzing the results in an effort to respond to our users’ concerns.
Major dimensions tested in the survey include Access to Information (collections and access to the collections), Affect of Service (interactions with staff and quality of those interactions), Library as Place (the physical library), and Personal Control (how much can users manage on their own, whether onsite or remotely). Generally, users’ perceptions were positive. From the responses received, it is clear that users’ experiences with library staff and many library services surpass levels identified as minimally acceptable. It is also clear, however, that we have room for improvement.
Graduate students and some faculty indicated they would like longer library hours on Fridays and Saturdays. In response to this desire, the library remained open later on Fridays and Saturdays beginning with the Fall 2002 semester. It is also clear that the physical facility needs to be improved. Although the kind of renovations necessary to address user concerns will require significant funding from the university, a committee to begin addressing the future of the building is in place. The most noticeable changes needing to occur are in the area of online and remote services. ILLiad, an online InterLibrary Loan system that allows users to submit ILL requests online and monitor the progress of their requests, is now operational at University Libraries. The software that authenticates users for remote access to research databases has been configured to work with the library patron database, ensuring that any BGSU student, staff, or faculty member with a current patron record can use the databases from off-campus locations. Additionally, online references services hours have been expanded.
From comments included in survey responses, it is clear that we have not marketed our services effectively: some users identified as “desired” services that we already provide. To respond to this and other concerns, task force members will be working with the BGSU Statistical Consulting Center to analyze our full data set. In-depth analysis will enable us to determine whether specific disciplines or user groups have concerns that should be addressed. We plan to talk with selected groups of users as we work with the data. We also plan to administer the survey again in Spring 2003. Additional initiatives to enhance “personal control” are in planning stages: watch for announcements!