Evaluation of the university library service quality: analysis through focus group interviews


The purpose of this study is to clarify the indicators and measures that correspond to
the dimensions of users’ evaluation of university library service. The authors have so
far conducted SERVQUAL-based survey researches at eight university libraries in
Japan, Thailand, England and Finland. As a result, the four dimensions were
confirmed through exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses of the data collected
with the same questionnaire items within a certain period of time at four universities in
Japan, England and Finland: “Effect of Service–Personal,” “Library as ‘Ba’” (“ba”
roughly translates into the English word “place”, but it can be thought of as a shared
space or place for emerging relationships), “Collection and Access” and “Effect of
Service–Organizational.” These held true even when the data were analyzed in groups
by university and statues, i.e. faculty members, graduate students and undergraduates
(Satoh and Nagata, 2003a;b; Nagata et al., 2004).
In order to realize high-quality service, it is imperative to understand how users
recognize and evaluate university library services. Clarification of dimensions that
construct the university library service quality was the foremost necessity for this
process, and the understanding of dimensions was furthered through the survey
results. However, the data acquired from this survey research, as shown inthe list
below, were based on the combination of SERVQUAL items and those we considered
were inherent in the library service. Because of that, there is a need to reassess how
users actually perceive and evaluate it and how indicators and measures should be set
in order to measure the service quality.
With this as an aim, focus group interviews were conducted at four university
libraries in three countries in order to grasp the actual experiences of the library users.
Through the analyses of the results, we attempt to understand the concrete contexts
where the university library user’s expectations and recognitions of the service are
formed, and to clarify the attributes and the conditions of the four dimensions. It is also
examined if there are any that should be added to the 29 items used for the
questionnaire survey at the four university libraries, and if there are, we would like to
see what kind of measures should be added. The 29 questionnaire items used in the last
survey were:
(1) visually appealing facilities;
(2) modern equipment;
(3) visually appealing materials (such as pamphlets, statements or signs)
associated with the service;
(4) performing services right the first time;
(5) providing services as promised;
(6) providing services at the promised time;
(7) dependability in handling users’ service problems;
(8) prompt service to users;
(9) keeping users informed about when services will be performed;
(10) willingness to help users;
(11) readiness to respond to users’ questions;
(12) library staff that instill confidence in users;

(13) library staff that are always courteous;
(14) library staff with the knowledge to answer users’ questions;
(15) assuring users of the accuracy and confidentiality of their personal
(16) convenient opening hours;
(17) library staff that understand the needs of their users;
(18) library staff that deal with users in a concerned or considerate fashion;
(19) giving users individual attention;
(20) having the users’ best interests at heart;
(21) a place for reflection and creativity;
(22) a comfortable and inviting location;
(23) space that enables quiet study;
(24) availability of required information;
(25) timely document delivery;
(26) convenient access to library collections;
(27) access to digital collections from PC;
(28) instruction in use and/or training sessions, when needed;
(29) expect to find information and new ideas.

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