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SFU Library User Survey 2013 - Frequently Asked Questions

From March 18 to April 8, 2013, all Simon Fraser University faculty and randomized samples of graduate students and undergraduate students will be invited to participate in a web-based SFU Library User Survey using the LibQUAL+ Lite ® survey instrument. 

LibQUAL+® is a service quality assessment project sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and designed to measure library users' perceptions of service quality and identify gaps between desired, perceived, and minimum expectations of service. The LibQUAL+ Lite ® survey instrument is based on matrix-sampling methodology, which means that each SFU respondent will answer no more than 21 questions (including demographic items) in order to provide statistically valid responses to the full suite of 44 LibQUAL+ ® questions.

More than 1,200 educational and research institution across Canada, the United States and in over 15 other countries have participated in the LibQUAL+® surveys.

This is the second time that SFU Library has participated in LibQUAL+® and the results will enable us to identify where our services meet or indeed exceed expectations and where our services need improvement in the eyes of our users.  As a member of the LibQual+™Canada 2013 consortium, we will also be able to compare our service quality with that of peer institutions in an effort to develop benchmarks and gain an understanding of best practices across institutions.


 1. What is LibQUAL+® ?

2. What are the goals of LibQUAL+ ®?

3. How will LibQUAL+® benefit library users?

4. What is the origin of the LibQUAL+® survey instrument?

5. How is LibQUAL+® conducted?

6. What are the elements of the LibQUAL+® survey itself?

7. How long does it take to complete the survey?

8. How are participants chosen to participate in the survey?

9. What about confidentiality?

10. Is it possible to complete the LibQUAL+® survey if not selected as part of the random sample?

11. Will the results of the survey be made available?

12. Who can I contact at SFU Library if I have further questions?

13. Is there more information on LibQUAL® survey?


1.What is LibQUAL+® ?

LibQUAL+® 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. The program's centerpiece is a rigorously tested Web-based survey bundled with training that helps libraries assess and improve library services, change organizational culture, and market the library.

More than 500 libraries have participated in LibQUAL+®, including colleges and universities, community colleges, health sciences libraries, law libraries, and public libraries -- some through various consortia, others as independent participants. LibQUAL+® has expanded internationally, with participating institutions in Canada, the U.K., and Europe. The growing LibQUAL+® community of participants and its extensive dataset are rich resources for improving library services.

Canadian institutions participating in the 2013 LibQUAL+


2. What are the goals of LibQUAL® ?
The goals of LibQUAL+® are to:

* Foster a culture of excellence in providing library service
* Help libraries better understand user perceptions of library service quality
* Collect and interpret library user feedback systematically over time
* Provide libraries with comparable assessment information from peer institutions
* Identify best practices in library service
* Enhance library staff members' analytical skills for interpreting and acting on data

3. How will LibQUAL+® benefit library users?
LibQUAL+® gives library users a chance to evaluate some of the services provided by the SFU Library. We may be able to develop services that better meet our users' expectations by comparing our data with that of peer institutions and examining the practices of those libraries that are evaluated highly by their users.

4. What is the origin of the LibQUAL+® survey instrument? The LibQUAL+® survey evolved from a conceptual model based on the SERVQUAL instrument, a popular tool for assessing service quality in the private sector. 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. The Association of Research Libraries, representing the largest research libraries in North America, partnered with Texas A&M University Libraries to develop, test, and refine LibQUAL+® . 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).

5. How is LibQUAL+® conducted? All SFU faculty and a random sample of 2600 undergraduate and 1580 graduate students will be invited by email to take the survey. The email will include the survey's URL for accessing the online survey form.

Respondents complete the survey and their answers are sent to a central database. The data are analyzed by Association of Research Libraries researchers, and will be presented to SFU Library in reports describing users' desired, perceived, and minimum expectations of service.

6. What are the elements of the LibQUAL+® survey itself? LibQUAL+® consists of a series of core questions, some demographics questions and a comments box.

The core questions measure user perceptions of Affect of Service, Library as Place, and Information Control.  There are three parts to many of the questions: respondents are asked to indicate the minimum service level they will accept, the desired service level they expect, and the level of service they perceive to be currently provided.  

The demographic questions include standard age/sex questions, among other information.  The purpose of collecting demographic information is to be able to compare the representativeness of the survey respondents against the university's population in order to determine if there are any selection or survey response biases. 

The comments box secures open-ended comments from users regarding their concerns and suggestions. These comments are an integral part of LibQUAL+®; historically, almost 40 percent of respondents provide comments using the box.

7. How long does it take to complete the survey? It takes about 8-10 minutes to complete the LibQUAL+ Lite ® survey.

8. How are participants chosen to participate in the survey? SFU Institutional Research Planning has created random samples of 2600 undergraduate students and 1580 graduate students who will receive an email invitation to participate in the survey.  All SFU faculty will receive an invitation to participate via an invitation to the sfufa-a-z email list.

9. What about confidentiality? The LibQUAL+® approach to confidentiality is guided by the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association (Standard 4: Privacy and Confidentiality). Responses do not include email addresses and other information identifying individuals. In addition, responses will only be used in the aggregate survey analyses, and will be treated with the strictest confidentiality.  At SFU, this is ensured  the General Privacy and Confidentiality Agreement which governs all employees. 

10. Is it possible to complete the LibQUAL+® survey if not selected as part of the student samples? We are always glad to receive feedback from users whether or not your comments are related to LibQUAL+®.  Your input is important in helping us establish priorities and improve services and collections. If you are not part of the LibQUAL+®  student samples but would like to comment on any aspect of the Library's service, please visit Feedback / Contact Us to see your many feedback options.

11. Will the results of the survey be made available? Once the data analysis is complete and available to us, we will keep the SFU community informed regarding outcomes through postings on our website and via other channels.

12. Who can I contact at SFU Library if I have further questions? You are very welcome to contact Elaine Fairey, Associate University Librarian, Learning & Research Services at 778-782-3252 or library@sfu.ca.

13. Is there more information on the LibQUAL+® survey? For more information, see the LibQUAL+® homepage.

LibQUAL+® is a registered trademark of the Association of Research Libraries.