LibQUAL+(TM) Library Survey Results 2007

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LibQUAL+(TM) Charting Library Service Quality

LibQUAL+(TM) Library Survey Results 2007

LibQUAL (Library Entrance)


    Background Information

    What is LibQual+?

    Summary of LibQual+ Results

    Focus Groups

    Library's responses


    Links to full reports for the Survey Results:

 Background Information

The Library has been conducting its own user surveys annually for over 10 years. This year the Library initiated and coordinated a partnership with six other UGC-funded university libraries in using LibQual+, a survey instrument developed in 2000 by the Association of Research Libraries in the United States. Over 14,500 Hong Kong students, faculty and staff participated in the survey, with 331 completing the survey at Lingnan University.

The participants in LibQual+ were:

  Participants %
City University of Hong Kong - English 449 3.07%
Hong Kong Polytechnic University - English 1,158 7.92%
Hong Kong Polytechnic University - Chinese 5,624 38.48%
Lingnan University - Chinese 305 2.09%
Lingnan University - English 28 0.19%
The Chinese University of Hong Kong 2,928 20.04%
The Hong Kong Institute of Education - English 121 0.83%
The Hong Kong Institute of Education – Chinese 822 5.62%
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology - English 452 3.09%
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology - Chinese 1,445 9.89%
University of Hong Kong 1,282 8.77%
Sub Total: 14,614 100.00%

 What is LibQual+?

LibQual+ was based on SERVQUAL, an instrument developed to measure service performance in the private sector. Like SERVQUAL, it measures the difference between customer expectations of service and their perceptions of satisfaction. Users are asked to assign a value to the level of service they desire, the minimum level they would accept and their perceptions of how well their institution meets their needs. In the Library context LibQual+ measures three areas: ‘Affect of Service’ or how users perceive library staff; ‘Information Control’, or how users perceive the quantity and accessibility of information resources; and ‘Library as Place’ or how users perceive the physical environment of the Library. Over 1,000 libraries in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand have participated in LibQual+. This year marks the first appearance of LibQual+ in Asia, and the first Chinese translation, prepared by Lingnan University Library staff. LibQual+ in Hong Kong was conducted in both Chinese and English, with some libraries opting to use both languages and some only using the English-language version. Lingnan University offered both languages, with most participants using the Chinese version.

LibQUAL header


 Summary of LibQual+ Results

From the LibQual+ results we can see that Lingnan undergraduates and postgraduates both focus on the library as a place, giving areas that concern physical space the highest values for both desired and minimum rankings. For Lingnan undergraduates and postgraduates the biggest gaps between perceived mean and desired mean and the narrowest satisfaction for perceived mean and minimum mean were for the question concerning ‘Quiet space for individual work’. Students rely on the Library as a place to study, alone or with others. ‘Library as place’ matters most for all students in Hong Kong as all participating undergraduates gave a quiet space for study their highest ranking.

Faculty and Staff have offices on campus and are less concerned with the physical library but very concerned with access tools and help from Librarians. The biggest gaps between perceived mean and minimum and desired means for faculty were in the areas of ‘Printed materials I need for my work’ and ‘electronic resources I need’.

Undergraduates gave their highest satisfaction ranking to the Library as a ‘Comfortable & Inviting Location’ while postgraduates, faculty, and staff gave their highest satisfaction ranking to ‘Courteous library staff’.

Table 1: Lingnan University Values

  Undergraduates Postgraduates Faculty Staff
Highest Desired Haven for study Space for group study Easy to access tools and electronic resources Library Web site
Highest Minimum Haven for study Quiet space for individual work Readiness to respond to enquiries Making resources available from office
Lowest Minimum  Giving users individual attention Giving users individual attention Space for group study Space for group study
Most Satisfaction Comfortable & Inviting Location Courteous library staff Courteous library staff Courteous library staff

Undergraduate, postgraduate, and faculty responses at other university libraries in Hong Kong have different values but show the same pattern. Undergraduates and postgraduates most value the library as a place, a quiet haven of study. Faculty primarily value access to resources, particularly print and electronic journals. At most institutions the greatest satisfaction for both students and faculty is for library staff who instil confidence in users. Table 2 provides a comparison of Lingnan University’s scores with those of JULAC (the seven participating UGC-funded libraries in Hong Kong); ARL, a consortium of 46 American and Canadian research libraries; SCONUL, a consortium of 20 British libraries; and the combined scores of all participants in the 2007 LibQual+ exercise. Although Hong Kong students and faculty have lower expectations (lower minimum and desired means) than foreign respondents, Lingnan University respondents have higher expectations than other Hong Kong respondents. Lingnan’s scores indicate that the Library seems to be providing a service that is closer to what users want than any of the consortia, with an adequacy mean that is higher than the others and the smallest gap between what is desired and what is perceived.

Table 2: Lingnan University compared with Hong Kong and foreign consortia and 2007 participants

  Lingnan JULAC (Hong Kong Libraries) ARL 2006 (American and Canadian Research Libraries) SCONUL (British Libraries) All 2007 Participants in Session 1
Minimum Mean 5.91 5.79 6.51 6.4 6.59
Desired Mean 7.57 7.47 7.95 7.78 7.94
Perceived Mean 6.89 6.65 6.98 6.73 7.08
Adequacy Mean 0.99 0.85 0.47 0.33 0.49
Superiority Mean -0.68 -0.82 -0.97 -1.05 -0.86

Although Lingnan University students and faculty viewed the Library very favourably, there are some areas where the Library can do better and the comments section of the survey provide the Library with specific information on areas that users felt needed improvement. There were 331 valid surveys and nearly 39% of users left comments. Of the comments received, 20 were either words of praise or provided unique suggestions or comments. The other 109 can be clustered under 11 areas of concern. The largest number, 28 (25.7% of the 109 and 8% of the total survey population), expressed dissatisfaction with the Library’s stock of books, journals, databases, or AV materials, with half of the complaints coming from postgraduates and academic staff.


 Focus Groups

Focus groups were held with undergraduate students on the 19th of February and with postgraduates and faculty on 3 March. Both groups were asked to complete a short questionnaire and rank their top 5 out of 20 possible choices. For undergraduates the top five priorities were:

1. Printing too expensiveLibQUAL (Library images)

2. Too cold

3. More books/journals

4. More library guides

5. Longer weekend opening hours

For postgraduate and faculty the top five priorities were:

1. More books/journals

2. More online materials

3. More library guides

4. More computers

5. More library workshops


 Library's responses

The undergraduates had several suggestions about improving the Library that the Library has acted upon. The Library agrees that more and better Library guides are certainly needed, especially with the new reclassification of the collection. New aisle signs will be installed this summer that will easily enable students to find the key Library of Congress sections at a glance. Students are concerned about waste and the environment and at their suggestion the Library will, where possible, set duplex printing as the default on the Octopus printers to save paper and place prominently labelled recycling bins near all printers and photocopiers. Students also want drinking fountains to be available and the Library will work with the Comptroller’s Office see if water coolers can be installed in the Cafe and on the 2nd floor.

There are several areas of concern that the Library will not address at this time. Printing costs are felt to be reasonable by the Library but students compare Lingnan University with other universities that allow a free print quota. As the University is moving towards Octopus printing, a quota system may not work, but the matter will be brought before the administration for discussion. The Library anticipates that renovations this summer will solve or alleviate the problem of too-cold rooms. Longer weekend hours could involve a financial commitment from the University and will be considered as we evaluate midnight coverage again at the end of the term. Most other UGC libraries are open until 19:00 or later on Sundays while Lingnan University closes at 17:30. The Library recently conducted a student survey to determine when students return to campus on weekends and what weekend hours they would use the Library if it were open. From the survey it appears that opening at 13.00 and closing at 19:30 or 20:00 would satisfy the greatest number of students.

The faculty/postgraduate focus group was concerned with resource problems. Some databases that some faculty consider necessary for their research are extremely expensive and the Library has been unable to afford them. Other areas are new to Lingnan University and the Library collections need substantial improvements to support them adequately. Undergraduates are also concerned about resources and especially seem to want more books on the newer majors, particularly for visual studies and third languages. Our students seem to believe in liberal arts and want a more diverse collection.

Other faculty concerns can be addressed by Web site and search engine redesign, by training more staff to use some of the specialized databases, and by working with faculty to acquire journals that they find they do need but that are the Library does not currently acquire. Resources are a concern. The Library budget for books, serials and databases has been relatively stable over the past years. Although new and superior databases have been acquired recently this was done by reallocating resources within the existing budget. Additional funds assigned to the Library on a one-off basis to acquire materials for new programmes went not only for books but also for new serial or database subscriptions, adding to the burden of the Library in the following years. Although it is noted that even much better resourced Hong Kong universities fail to satisfy their faculty’s demands, some consideration should be given towards providing additional resources, particularly in the development of new majors and new programmes as we move towards 2012.



The Library will continue to run its own in-house annual survey so that it may continue to benchmark against its previous performance. LibQual+ has been valuable to the Libraries in Hong Kong as it provided all of them with an internationally recognized survey instrument that could prove useful in demonstrating library achievements for the forthcoming Quality Assurance Council audit. It is anticipated that the university libraries in Hong Kong would run LibQual+ every three or four years. That would give the libraries time to implement any necessary changes to their operations and allow for a linear measure of student and faculty satisfaction with library services.


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