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2008 Library Assessment Conference. the 2007 LibQUAL Canada Experience. Bench-marking on a national scale. Sam Kalb, Library Assessment & IT Projects Coordinator Queen’s University Library, Kingston, Ontario, Canada Email:

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the 2007 libqual canada experience

2008 Library Assessment Conference

the 2007 LibQUAL Canada Experience

Bench-marking on a national scale

Sam Kalb, Library Assessment & IT Projects Coordinator

Queen’s University Library, Kingston, Ontario, Canada


why not just develop a canadian survey

LibQUAL+™ established survey instrument for academic libraries

Challenges & costs to build a better Canadian survey instrument & national support infrastructure

Why not just develop a Canadian survey?
libqual and the canadian context

20 Canadian LibQUAL+™ participants to 2006 but never more than 10 in any given year

  • Need to develop relevant comparators reflecting the realities of Canadian education
    • All Canadian universities publicly funded
    • Education a provincial (state) jurisdiction
  • By 2006, LibQUAL+™ was the primary instrument used by Canadian academic libraries to assess library service quality
LibQUAL+™ and the Canadian Context
origin of the libqual canada consortium

Est. & funded by Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) in Jan. 2006

Goal: create a larger database of Canadian content that would offer more meaningful benchmarking of services for Canadian academic research libraries

Unique Opportunity: to engage the broader Canadian academic and research library community in developing a national service quality assessment survey

Origin of the LibQUAL+ Canada Consortium
the 2007 libqual canada consortium

Largest LibQUAL+™ consortium:46 universities, 7 community colleges and 3 federal government libraries from across Canada

66% of the libraries had never done the survey including some smaller institutions who would not have considered participating on their own

Bilingual Environment: English-language, French-language and bilingual institutions.

the 2007 LibQUAL+ Canada Consortium
building the libqual canada consortium

What factors went into establishing and conducting this large and successful consortial project?

Governance and Support

Project Organization & Management

Communication& Engagement

Active recruitment of participants

Building the LibQUAL Canada Consortium
governance support

Governing body: CARL Committee on Effectiveness Measures and Statistics

Funding: annual budgets for 2006 &2007

Admin. Support: CARL staff

Governance & Support
project organization management

Coordination: Dedicated Project Leader working in consultation with participants (official contacts)

Underlying assumption: most members did not have dedicated assessment staff to manage the process successfully on their own

Project management objective: guide consortium members through the planning process, via discrete, manageable sets of actions; each stage with its own timelines and deliverables.

Project Organization & Management
communication engagement

Moderated discussion/announcement list

Members encouraged to contribute in shaping each phase of the project

Timelines and action items were revised at each stage based on member input.

Highest priority: Every query answered in a timely fashion &, in most cases, exchange shared with the membership

Communication& Engagement
active recruitment of participants

Building critical mass (invitations to join via national & regional library councils)

Individual invitations to encourage maximum participation by leading Canadian institutions

Rapid response to queries from potential participants, incl. support documentation to help persuade reluctant or wary administrators

Active recruitment of participants
web presence

Major recruitment & project management tool

Goal: to provide an easy to use, one-stop resource for member libraries – with material, relevant to Canadian libraries, that could be readily adapted by individual libraries for their use.

Updated “look” throughout the project (from early focus on attracting participants to final focus on the survey results & their analysis

Web Presence
libqual beyond a workshop ottawa ont canada oct 2007

Helped consortium participants to analyze their LibQUAL+™ results effectively

1st Canadian library assessment conference

Provided 1st forum for Canadian librarians engaged/interested in assessment to meet & network

Attempted to encourage libraries to start building a “culture of assessment”

LibQUAL & Beyond: a workshopOttawa, Ont. Canada, Oct. 2007
consortial deliverables

Standard LibQUAL™ consortial notebook, aggregated by user category, library type, and survey language

The Consortial, on behalf of CARL and regional councils in Ontario (OCUL) and Quebec (CREPUQ), contracted with ARL for custom consortial notebooks representing their member libraries

The councils all approved the posting of the aggregate notebooks on the consortial web site.

Consortial Deliverables
data sets

The Consortium received the complete data set representing the results for all 48,000 consortium respondents

Data set and subsets made available to all consortium participants in spreadsheet or SPSS format (with individual identifiable data, such as the institution name, names of campus libraries, local discipline groups, etc. replaced with masking codes)

Data Sets
survey of consortium participants

93.6% of wanted to take the LibQUAL+™ survey again as members of the consortium

80% preferred LibQUAL+™ over developing a home-grown alternative; slight preference among respondents for a more abbreviated LibQUAL+ ™ Lite over the full survey

Members split evenly between 2 & 3 year options for preferred frequency of future consortial surveys

Ratings for consortial support and responsiveness were very high

Survey of Consortium Participants
challenges for consortium its members

Demands on staff time to plan the survey & to review, analyze & act on the results – greatest for libraries with fewer staff. Limited data analysis expertise.

Few community college participants in the 2007 survey & widely differing mandates among the Canadian provinces as to clientele served and types of academic and non-academic programs. Need for more web resources aimed at community colleges

Limited benchmarking value for federal government libraries who each have such widely different clientele and mandates

Challenges For Consortium & its Members
how to improve the survey for our members

Alternative, briefer LibQUAL+™ surveys

Alternative delivery mechanisms

Customizable set of user types linkable to a set of standard user categories (similar to discipline group mapping)

Customizable labels mapped to the same survey concepts for different cultures (e.g. “gender” instead of “sex”)

More effective mapping & management of survey questions in different languages

How to Improve the Survey for Our Members
conclusion it really is worth doing
Conclusion: It really is worth doing!

Despite the challenges, the 48,000 consortial responses to the 2007 survey have provided a rich, unique resource of assessment data for Canadian academic and research libraries that can only grow more valuable each time the consortium runs the survey.