History of LibQUAL+

Through 2012, over 1,200 libraries have participated in LibQUAL+, collecting over 1.7 million library user responses. LibQUAL+ has been implemented in libraries in over 28 countries, and the project supports 21 language translations. LibQUAL+ continues to expand into new environments with implementations in a variety of institution types including college/university, community college, health sciences, high school, academic law, academic military, public, hospital, and state libraries. 

Take the time to explore how LibQUAL+ has transitioned from a research project to an ongoing ARL service.


  • 2007

LibQUAL+ surpasses 1,000 participating libraries!

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) brought a dynamic group of libraries, LibQUAL Canada, to the LibQUAL+ roster with 63 participating libraries, most of whom implemented bilingual surveys in American English and Canadian French. Chinese (Traditional) was introduced through the Joint University Librarians Advisory Committee (JULAC), a group funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) of the Hong Kong SAR Government. Seven institutions participated in Session II, many implementing bilingual surveys in British English and Chinese.

In Stellenbosch, South Africa, LibQUAL+ met with native libraries to discuss how the survey instrument has been used in South African libraries. The meeting, held in conjunction with the , featured presentations by Sherrie Schmidt, University Librarian at Arizona State University and ARL President, Vicki Coleman, Associate University Librarian at Arizona State University, and Jim Self, Director of Management Information Services at University of Virginia Library. To view their presentations, see LibQUAL+ Publications (search Publication Type: Presentations). 

A LibQUAL+ forum was held in conjunction with the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC. A. "Parsu" Parasuraman, a Professor & Holder of the James W. McLamore Chair, University of Miami, and Editor of Journal of Service Research, and one of three developers of SERVQUAL, addressed measuring both in-person and online library service quality in celebration of the 1,000 institutions that have implemented LibQUAL+.


  • 2006

The National Health Service (NHS) in England piloted the LibQUAL+ survey in 10 institutions to assess users’ needs, preferences, and behaviors in an effort to coordinate digital resources provided nationally in physical libraries on NHS sites around the country.

The LibQUAL+ Analytics, a tool that allows participants to dynamically create institution-specific tables and charts, was released. It featured two main sections: (a) Institution Explorer: summarizes all questions and dimension means for any combination of user group and discipline, and (b) Longitudinal Analysis: allows participants to perform longitudinal comparisons of their data across years.

The second participation of the European Business School Librarians Group (EBSLG) brought 5 new languages to LibQUAL+: Danish, Finnish, German, Norwegian, and Swedish British English.


  • 2005

LibQUAL+ hosted its first booth at the ACRL 12th National Conference in Minneapolis, MN.

LibQUAL+ sponsored its first In-Kind Grant Program for participation in the 2006 survey. An advisory committee comprised of ARL staff and LibQUAL+ researchers selected five institutions (one grant for every 50 registered institutions) based on three crucial factors: financial need, contribution to the growth of LibQUAL+, and improvements in local service and quality.


  • 2004

After rigorous testing of the LibQUAL+ protocol over a 3 year period, the survey was standardized to include the following key elements: (1) 22 core items spanned across 3 dimensions---Affect of Service, Information Control, and Library as Place; (2) 11 additional items covering information literacy outcomes, general satisfaction with library service, and library usage trends; (3) general demographic items; and (4) a comments box for open-ended user comments. 

The survey year was segmented into two sessions to accommodate participants in the southern hemisphere: Session I (January – May) and Session II (July – December). 

Several new languages were introduced including European French, Dutch, and Swedish. The American Universities in Cairo, Egypt and Sharjah, United Arab Emirates participated in the survey bringing in over 900 responses.

Six new consortia participated in the survey including the Hospital/Medical Library Association (MLA), the American Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), the CES Library Consortium (CES), the European Business Schools Librarians' Group (EBSLG), the State University Libraries of Florida, and the University of Wisconsin System---a total of 58 institutions.


  • 2003

Over 300 institutions (70% new registrants) registered for the spring 2003 iteration of the survey, the highest registration in LibQUAL+® history. More than 125,000 user responses were collected during the survey. Two consortia agreed to participate in LibQUAL+: NY3R, a group of academic and public libraries locate in New York, and the Military Education Coordination Council (MECC)

The survey was offered in French in two ARL institutions in Canada—the first full translation of the survey instrument into another language. 

New features were added to the LibQUAL+ Web site such as a new survey management console, updated participant resources, and an improved registration online form

A Survey Highlights publication is first issued, providing overall data for 4 institution types: colleges and universities, community colleges, academic health sciences, and military institutions. In addition to listing mean values for each dimension, by institution type, the data are also represented via radar and thermometer charts.

Publication of a monthly newsletter, LibQUAL+ Update, began in December.


  • 2002

Over 160 institutions registered for the spring 2002 survey, including 2 large consortia: OhioLink, a group of community colleges and four-year institutions (54 institutions) and the American Association of Health Sciences Libraries (36 institutions); over 78,000 survey responses were collected. 

The first annual LibQUAL+® Share Fair is held at the ALA Annual Conference in Toronto. The free, informal (science-fair style) gathering offered informative presentations by participating institutions and focused on many aspects of LibQUAL+ including:

 - Survey administration
 - Marketing your survey
 - Quantitative and qualitative analyses available using your survey results
 - Methods of engaging your library staff, stakeholders, and customers in understanding and using the findings 

LibQUAL+ held its first International Workshop in the U.K. The two-day training designed specifically for SCONUL, interested European libraries, and other international participants, covered qualitative and quantitative background for the protocol, survey process, and strategies for using LibQUAL+ results effectively.


  • 2001

ARL and Texas A&M University were awarded a 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation for digital library assessment. The funds supported the adaptation of the LibQUAL+ instrument for use in the science, math, engineering, and technology education digital library community.

The spring 2001 survey results were presented at the 4th Northumbria International Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, USA and the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA. This marked the tradition of LibQUAL+ training programs and reporting of survey results to participants. 

The Greater Midwestern Regional Library Consortium (GMRLC, formerly the Big 12 Plus) was the first consortial participation in LibQUAL+, bringing 13 institutions to our roster.


  • 2000

The ARL Board of Directors endorsed new ARL development priorities to include new service roles. ARL was directed to "help member libraries redefine their service roles in ways that are responsive to a rapidly changing information environment." One example was to develop "new measures for assessing library performance and contributions to higher education."

The first SERVQUAL project data collection began shortly after participants were briefed on the project protocol and requirements, and testing of the data collection Web form was complete in Spring 2000. ARL was awarded a half-million dollars by the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) for the “Service Effectiveness in Academic Research Libraries” (later coined “LibQUAL+”), covering nearly 50% of the estimated cost of the three-year pilot project. The remaining funds were provided through a partnership between ARL and TAMU.

Several articles were published about LibQUAL+, one of which Colleen Cook, Fred Heath, and Bruce Thompson authored, “LibQUAL+®: One Instrument in the New Measures Toolbox” was featured in the ARL Bimonthly Report. During the ARL symposium, New Culture of Assessment in Academic Libraries: Measuring Service Quality, interest was expressed by several institutions to participate in the LibQUAL+ project. For a piece on the origins of LibQUAL+, see Bruce Thompson’s article, The Birth/Origin of LibQUAL+®.


  • 1999

ARL introduces the New Measures Initiatives, a collection of projects designed to address issues of service quality, electronic usage and value, and outcomes assessment. One of the five projects, largely supported by Texas A&M University (TAMU) and foundation funds, was a study of the utility of service effectiveness measures using the SERVQUAL instrument. The project would support up to 10 institutions, each contributing $2,000. Fred Heath, Dean and Director of Libraries at Texas A&M University (TAMU), invited ARL institutions to participate in a SERVQUAL modified survey.