This research assessed the quality of service offered by the Clayton State University Library from the viewpoint of the customers of the facility.
The research evaluated the customers’ views regarding the library services and examined the degree of customer contentment at the Clayton State University Library.
The aim of the research was that of identifying inconsistencies in the facility service and measuring the customers’ views on the quality of the resources and library service.
The research sample comprised of 200 facility users. Out of the 200 users under research, 197 participated in the study, generating a feedback level of 98.4% selected by way of an expediency population.
The LibQUAL+ assessment tool that was utilized in this research was adjusted for application in an educational facility since the greater part of research utilizing the LibQUAL+ tool was carried out in educational settings. The tool included both non-closed and closed set of questions.
Interviews were utilized with a view of eliciting background data from the management on concerns of facility service, selection establishment practice, financing, and overall organization concerns.
The outcomes from this research demonstrate that there is an inconsistency between users’ anticipations and views of quality of services at the Clayton State University Library.
The customers’ anticipation was not in line with the real experience at the facility, particularly in connection with access to materials as consumers experienced challenges with electronic resources and the general selection.
The degree of contentment differed across the various customer classes and the outcomes demonstrated that the greater part of users ranked the general quality of service as excellent and that the facility is, to an enormous degree, doing well as far as service delivery is concerned.
To provide services that are satisfactory and meet the anticipations and desires of users is important for any library.
The evaluation of the quality of services provided by the library with regard to users’ anticipations with a view of determining whether their anticipations are being satisfied or not, is similarly significant.
This research will focus on assessing users’ views of services offered at the Clayton State University. A user in this perspective will denote a person who is aged 18 years and above and is in ownership of a library card.
Since its inauguration, the Clayton State University has not assessed the quality of the service it provides to its members from the user’s viewpoint.
Quantitative measures like sample size, personnel, number of individuals getting into the library, but not essentially members, materials loaned and performance data have been utilized as a way to measure user satisfaction and quality of service.
This does not, however, represent the views or issues of the users. It is this aspect that the research is concerned with. Quinn (2011) claims that quality services are those who meet the anticipations and desires of the users.
Sahu (2010) cited by Quinn (2011) argues that determining service quality is critical in a library since users are skeptical of the responsibility of a library. A library at the moment more than ever has to substantiate its value declining public resources and rivalry from other learning institutes.
Quality is an essential idea and obligation of the library job and any library is focusing on delivering the utmost quality service (Kachoka, 2010). In ensuring that a multi-elemental evaluation of quality is attained, a library has to turn its evaluation focus external to its customers.
Niyonsenga and Bizimana (2010) state that in a service context, how a user perceives and values what is available, is essential to successful service planning and service delivery. Creaser (2012) affirms that the main business of a library is service.
The tendency of measuring the quality of libraries in justifiable measures concerning their collections and utilization, does not satisfactorily deal with the society’s need for information. A librarian has to therefore obtain modern and novel methods of measuring quality in a library.
Established means of library assessment like the number of materials on the shelves with respect to the number of individuals supplied are no longer adequate.
With the aim of listening to its customers, a library ought to evaluate customers’ views on the services it delivers. This is normally carried out by surveys distributed to an arbitrary group of customers or by an online survey on the library’s web (Kachoka, 2010).
According to Simba (2011), offering quality service implies being capable of viewing service from the customers’ viewpoint and then meeting the users’ anticipations for service, thus defining values.
Niyonsenga and Bizimana (2010) in Quinn (2011) state that definitely all libraries that focus on attaining the utmost position of service, that is, cater for the desires of customers as people, are trying to be user-based.
The study problem
The goal of the Clayton State University Library is that of improving the quality of life of people of the Morrow area by being sensitive to their educational requirements and offer materials that boost and add towards their learning, socio-cultural and leisure requirements (Kyrillidou, 2012).
The Clayton State University Library is anticipated to attain this goal by offering services that demonstrate how well it is running and the level to which a user can gain from using the services.
Wiener and Gillilard (2011) emphasize that the methods through which the libraries can demonstrate proof of their involvement are through providing good customer services.
The Clayton State University Library requires determining whether it delivers quality services based on the users’ perception. The existing technique ought to not be viewed as the only method of measuring service quality.
A user-oriented assessment will offer the library statistics of users’ views of any library service and enable it to evaluate the quality of service.
This research focuses on investigating the views of library customers regarding library service offered by the Clayton State University Library. It has to be, however, understood that this research will deal only with registered library members.
The unregistered customers who benefit from the facility are as well regarded as a significant customer set but will not be addressed in this research.
The objective of this research is the one of determining the service users’ views offered by the Clayton State University Library.
Since user-oriented assessment has not been carried out at the facility before, it is expected that such research will offer an outline for the future assessment of customers’ views of library service at the Clayton State University Library.
This research ought to indicate the satisfaction rank of library service based on service delivery to customers and point out alleged strengths and weaknesses as far as its services are concerned.
Between the years 2008 and 2009 the Clayton State University was given approximately $3.5 million by the state to upgrade the facility (Kachoka, 2010). This funding allowed for the full renovation of the facility and the provision of up to date tools.
This research of the views of customers will assess the degrees of satisfaction and dissatisfaction among the clients.
The outcomes of this research may then be utilized as an avenue for addressing challenges identified and developing a policy that will successfully help the administration and employees improve the quality of service to customers.
Derived from the above-identified focus of the research, the precise objectives include determining library customers’ anticipations of the quality of service, determining library customers’ views of the quality of service, determining if there are gaps between the anticipations and views of customers and establishing the degree of satisfaction of facility customers.
Major study queries
Given the research problem and objectives, the current research focused on responding to the following issues: what is the trend and frequency of registered users?
What is the customers’ expectation of the Clayton State University Library services? What is the view of customers regarding the quality of service offered by the Clayton State University Library?
What is the gap between customer anticipation and customer perception? Is the user satisfied with the service he or she gets at the Clayton State University Library?
Anchored in these queries and the outcomes of the research, suggestions will be provided in this regard.
According to Kyrillidou (2012), the SERVQUAL framework on which the LibQUAL framework is derived refers to an inclusive model as it determines not only users’ anticipations but also users’ views and has been widely implemented across an extensive collection of service environments.
The SERVQUAL framework was established in the late 1980s as a tool to evaluate users’ views of service quality (Neuman, 2012).
Various and far-reaching researches regarding service quality utilizing the LibQUAL+ strategy have been carried out in educational libraries globally, for instance, the Georgia Institute of Technology Library (White & Abel, 2011).
No such researches utilizing the SERQUAL or LibQUAL tools have as yet been carried out in Clayton State University Library. The factors behind this issue are unclear.
LibQUAL+ helps a service provider to understand how a user thinks about and evaluates a library.
It utilizes the model of customers’ views and anticipations in improving a library and is an instrument that is modifiable and valuable for internal scheduling and decision-making (Koontz & Gubbin, 2010).
The LibQUAL+ framework can be utilized for measuring customers’ perceptions towards the quality of service that libraries render and can be considered as an inclusive aspect as it determines both customers’ anticipations and views, and it has been experienced widely across an extensive collection of service contexts.
With a view of understanding and assessing the views of library customers on service offered by the Clayton State University Library, this research utilized the LibQUAL+ tool anchored in the gap premise with Gap five being the interest of the research.
It has to be understood that the tool will be adjusted for utilization in an educational facility environment since as demonstrated the greater part of studies utilizing the LibQUAL+ and SERVQUAL frameworks were carried out in educational and research facilities.
Public libraries refer to organizations developed, maintained and financed by people either via internal, regional, or external funds.
The public libraries provide access to information, understanding, long term education and works of imagination via an array of materials and services and are similarly accessible to any member of the public in spite of sex, culture, age group, language, socio-economic and job levels and academic achievement (Crawford, 2011).
The idea of service quality in terms of libraries can be described as the variation between customers’ anticipations and views of service effectiveness and the actually of service (Crawford, 2011).
Crawford (2011) further argues that service quality implies one’s capability to perceive service from the users’ perspective and then satisfy the users’ anticipation of the service.
Limitation and delimitation
Out of the 5 gaps established by Koontz and Gubbin (2010), this research as mentioned will only concentrate on Gap five which dwells on the variation between customers’ anticipations of service quality and customers’ views of the real service provided which is the source of a customer-oriented description of service quality and a foundation for the SERVQUAL framework.
The research examined only a sample of listed customers. Non-users utilizing the facility were not included. It would be perfect for sampling all facility customers but time constraints and the needs for the current research restricted it to a particular group of participants.
Parasuraman (2011) carried out an influential study regarding quality management and its association with reducing production expenditures and enhancing output, which is necessary for the manufacturer of the products.
The authors identified three basic concerns, namely
- service values are harder for the customer to analyze in relation to the value of tangible products;
- service quality outcome is based on relationship between clients’ needs and real service delivery;
- value assessments are not only based on the performance but in addition, include assessment of the entire process of delivery (Parasuraman et al. 1985).
The significance attached to both the process and the real result of the delivery actions, has a strong link to the findings of Lam et al. (2010) that in a non-product sector, for example, any action such as the procedure either with a resource (e.g. journal) or an academic personnel, can both fulfill and frustrate patrons.
Nitecki (2011) established SERVQUAL, which traces the views of clients and the comparative significance of service elements. It was introduced through the study carried out by Nitecki in 2011 regarding the gap framework of service dimensions.
The methodology utilized in developing SERVQUAL comprises surveying clients on core service attributes and then relating the results to a real organization. SERVQUAL was utilized broadly in service organizations comprising a few library provisions.
Parasuraman (2011) presents an inventory of articles indicating an experimental study on the utilization of SERVQUAL in a library setting. SERVQUAL was initially implemented at the Texas College Library, where Dole carried out research encompassing service quality views of clients in 2001.
Due to his knowledge in utilizing the tool, he established LibQUAL+ with the assistance of not-for-profit organizations in 2002 (Dole, 2011).
The library collection has numerous indications regarding library service value and client contentment (Nitecki, 2011; Spreng & MacKoy, 2011), and service delivery identification in academic library environment (McKnight & Berrington, 2010; Ryan, 2011) as a way to assess whether a library service satisfies the client or not.
LibQUAL+, the quality assessment tool described earlier, is often cited regarding the clients’ contentment in regards to library collection (Gatten, 2009).
While implicitly indicates client fulfillment, the determination of quality of service has been utilized to imply client contentment (Holbrook, 2009).
This is mainly crucial while discussing the utilization of quality tools regarding LIS because the library quality marks can be understood as the indicators of client contentment (Thompson, 2011).
An additional criticism regarding focussing only on client contentment is that the effect of the quality assessment tool may not determine the willingness of library management and academic personnel that will result in constant enhancement in resources and values (McKnight, 2010; Wiener & Gillilard, 2011).
Understanding client will enable continuous struggle for quality enhancement since the quality targets an improvement.
Strategies and action plans can be established for delivering these qualities without the ongoing requirement of determining contentment as such (McKnight & Berrington, 2010; Gomez-Barris, 2010).
As noted earlier, LibQUAL+ refers to an assessment tool utilized in measuring library service provision effectiveness but a number of scholars have raised issues concerning this assessment tool. Quinn (2011) raised two debatable aspects that are unclear in the LibQUAL+ tool.
Firstly, whether a library user has the required skills for making exact evaluations of quality, and secondly, whether a perception serves as a legitimate indicator of objective situations.
Bearing the above issues in mind, this would mean that the members of the Clayton State University Library are not yet to make legitimate evaluations of quality service.
The researcher contends that the facility user will be capable of recognizing good service from meager one whether he or she has been exposed to a single position or both positions of service since views will be developed from the largely utilized service.
This research assumed a mostly quantitative strategy since the aim was that of assessing and describing customers’ views of the quality of service offered by the Clayton State University Library. To do so, an expressive assessment design was utilized.
According to Cook and Heath (2011), assessment design is less expensive in that it enables the collection of information on a single source and as well enables information collection in a short span of period which is a significant concern for this research.
According to Hiller (2010), the most direct kind of assessment study is expressive and it is structured with a view of ensuring that the sample is practically representative of the population to which the research focuses on and the appropriate features of the population have been precisely determined.
Sample and sample size
An expediency sampling method was utilized with a view of drawing the sample from the Clayton State University Library members.
According to Thompson (2011), expediency sampling involves selecting the bordering people to serve as participants and advancing that procedure until the needed number of respondents has been attained.
The researcher just selects the respondents from those whom he or she has trouble-free access.
Even though the sample selected was not essentially representative of all members (for example, there is the likelihood that there will be a legitimate user who is not utilizing the facility during the time of the research), the researcher is of the view that the current research will provide a number of suggestions to the customers’ views of the Clayton State University Library and as well offer a bottom line for the future research.
Based on aspects like registration, sex, age group and ethnicity, a sample of two hundred legitimate customers was chosen.
The rationale to select a sample of two hundred participants consisted in the fact that it was within the scope of the research and not costly. The Senior Librarian of the user section and the Facility Director were as well integrated into the research.
Spreng and MacKoy (2011) state that three often utilized information-gathering methods are the observation, survey and consultation.
Spreng and MacKoy (2011) further underline that these refer to information gathering tools or methods but not study techniques; the three tools can be utilized with two or three methodologies.
The tools utilized in this research to gather both quantitative and qualitative information were the interview and self-directed survey.
Babbie and Mouton (2010) highlight that utilization of surveys is by far the less costly and can be carried out by one or more researchers being a critical concern in this research.
Neuman (2012) in addition to this, mentions that additional merit of the self-directed survey is that it minimizes interview prejudice.
For the purpose of this research, a 5-page survey comprising 8 parts was developed. The LibQUAL+ oriented assessment queries (Walters, 2010) were employed for the setting for the Clayton State University Library.
Question 1 of the assessment consisted of demographic information on the respondents.
The aim of question one was to gather information that would help to determine the numerous feedback rates and allow the development of a report for some particular subsections with a view of comparing the feedback from the various sections.
Question 2 comprised twenty-six assertions and participants were requested to rank their anticipations of service quality on a scale (from 1 to 5) at the Clayton State University Library.
Question 3 was a non-closed query where a respondent was requested to include remarks on current service or a service that he or she anticipated.
Question 4 consisted of similar queries to those in part 2 except for the fact that a respondent was requested to rank his or her views of library service presently offered by the Clayton State University Library.
Part 5 had a non-closed query similar to query 3.
Questions 6 and 7 had assertions on customer fulfilment and a respondent had to state whether he or she was extremely contented, contended, neutral, discontented or extremely discontented with the service at the University Library.
The survey tool ended with query 8, a non-closed query.
Regarding administration and circulation of the questionnaire, the researcher obtained consent from the university management prior to the circulation of the feedback forms.
Methodical administration of the feedback form is significant for ensuring that the procedure is an even transition for information gathering (Mouton, 2010).
In the best interest of this research, the researcher focused on utilizing individual hand delivery with a view of ensuring that the target population certainly filled and submitted the feedback form.
It was considered fundamental in identifying the participants and keeping control of the feedback-form circulation. Of the two hundred feedback forms circulated, a total of one hundred and ninety-seven (98.5%) was collected.
This was a good response level and adequate for data examination and reporting. The survey tool utilized in this research had previously been applied and approved in educational and study library environments, and its reliability and legality were entrenched.
Data examination comprised of qualitative evaluation includes procedures like substance and thematical examination, as well as statistical examination (Naidu, 2012). This research adopted a fundamentally quantitative strategy.
Information received from the non-open queries in the feedback form was verified for wholeness, fit and reliability. This procedure is referred to as data screening.
Data screening comprises everything from analyzing responses, seeking astonishing feedbacks and unanticipated trends to checking or confirming the coding of the data.
Responses were screened and the quantitative evaluation utilizing the software tool SPSS was utilized in analyzing and interpreting the findings of the research (Walters, 2010).
Results and Discussion
Background details concerning the participants were requested. The demographic details were critical for relationship of the responses between the various classes of facility customers.
Regarding sex of the respondents, there were less male participants 70 (36%) than female participants 127 (66%) as indicated below.
Regarding age group of the respondents, the majority of the participants 56 (28.1%) was aged between 20 and 29 years.
The below table shows that a reasonably level distribution of participants belonged to the initial two age groups and 9 (4.9%) of the participants were aged over 69 years. None of the participants were aged below 20 years.
|Age category||Number||Percentage (%)|
|20 – 29||56||28.1|
|30 – 39||46||23.3|
|40 – 49||50||25.2|
|50 – 59||23||12.3|
|60 – 69||13||6.2|
Concerning race categories, the majority of the participants 67 (33.8%) were American, and African 21 (10.8) were the minority.
A challenge was made as far as targeting a smooth distribution of the sample was concerned but participants utilizing the library during the exact study times were largely Americans as indicated below.
Users’ anticipations and views of the service quality
The outcomes indicated that the participants had strong anticipations of the library service, for instance 168 (86.3%) accepted that they anticipated the educational library to offer the community with all its educational needs and 163 (83.1%) anticipated to be contented with the manner in which the community is handled at the facility.
The views of the service differed to a slight degree and were lesser than the customers’ anticipations.
The outcomes indicated that the greater part of participants, 185 (79.1%) ranked the general quality of facility service as good or excellent. A lesser part, 17 (8.1%) showed that the general quality of facility service was meager.
Whereas this reflects a small percentage, it does indicate that the facility cannot be satisfied as far as quality of service offered is concerned and that there is at all times space to improve.
However, the outcome has indicated that the facility is to an enormous degree doing extremely well in terms of service delivery and that a user is mainly contented with the service offered.
Conclusions and recommendation
The key purpose of the research was that of determining customers’ anticipations of quality of service. The research indicated that the user had strong anticipations regarding library service.
The participants anticipated an inclusive material collection and a sufficient electronic collection. They, in addition, anticipated inclusive resources and good organization in the field of library loans.
The other objective of the research was that of determining users’ views of the service quality. The research demonstrated that the customers’ views for a number of services were stronger than the users’ anticipations.
The feedbacks of customers’ real experiences demonstrated a degree of discontentment with access to materials, with the principal issue being the resource selection and library loan performance.
In this regard, the facility ought to review the periods of service, particularly at weekends. An additional suggestion would be to engage students with a view of extending the periods of service.
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