General Information

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 (ARL). 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. 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


More than 1,200 libraries have participated in LibQUAL+, including college and university libraries, community college libraries, health sciences libraries, academic law libraries, and public libraries -- some through various consortia, others as independent participants. LibQUAL+ has expanded internationally, with participating institutions in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. The growing LibQUAL+ community of participants and its extensive dataset are rich resources for improving library services.


How will LibQUAL+ Benefit your Library?

Library administrators have successfully used LibQUAL+ survey data to identify best practices, analyze deficits, and effectively allocate resources. Benefits to participating institutions include:

    • Institutional data and reports that enable you to assess whether your library services are meeting user expectations
    • Aggregate data and reports that allow you to compare your library's performance with that of peer institutions
    • Workshops designed specifically for LibQUAL+ participants
    • Access to an online library of LibQUAL+ research articles
    • The opportunity to become part of a community interested in developing excellence in library services


How Does LibQUAL+ Benefit Your Library Users?

LibQUAL+ gives your library users a chance to tell you where your services need improvement so you can respond to and better manage their expectations. You can develop services that better meet your users' expectations by comparing your library's data with that of peer institutions and examining the practices of those libraries that are evaluated highly by their users.


How Is the LibQUAL+ Survey Conducted?

Conducting the LibQUAL+ survey requires little technical expertise on your part. Use our online Management Center to set up and track the progress of your survey. You invite your users to take the survey, distributing the URL for your library's Web form via e-mail or posting a link on the library's Web site. Respondents complete the survey form and their answers are sent to the LibQUAL+ database. The data are analyzed and presented to you in reports describing your users' desired, perceived, and minimum expectations of service.


What Are the Origins of the LibQUAL+ Survey?

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. ARL, 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).