Skip to content

A big blue band in the zone of tolerance

May 18, 2015

I want to talk a bit more about Creativity Inc. but before I get started, it might be worth stopping for a moment and looking at how we are doing.

Our library has changed quite a bit in the last few years.  We have implemented new services, changed how we purchase materials, reorganized spaces and our website, improved our technical infrastructure, and more.  We use any information that we can get to select and prioritize new work.  For example, usage statistics of existing services, complaints, focus groups, website analytics, and requests from students and faculty.

Every few years we conduct a LibQUAL survey to see how we are doing.  This year our overall LibQUAL survey results were fantastic!  The following is a radar chart and table of our overall results.  We haven’t looked at one of these for a while so, as a reminder, the survey respondents provide the minimum expectation, current perception, and desired expectation for questions related to Library as Place, Affect of Service, and Information Control.  (The actual questions are listed in the table.)

From the LibQUAL Handbook:  “Generally, a radar graph shaded blue and yellow indicates that users’ perceptions of service fall within the zone of tolerance; the distance between minimum expectations and perceptions of service quality is shaded in blue, and the distance between their desired and perceived levels of service quality is shown in yellow.

Simply put, the wider the band of blue, the better.

Radar Chart for all user groups 2015


ID Question Text Minimum Mean Desired Mean Perceived Mean
AS-1 Employees who instill confidence in users 6.47 7.44 7.26
AS-2 Giving users individual attention 6.18 7.24 7.14
AS-3 Employees who are consistently courteous 7.13 8.06 7.89
AS-4 Readiness to respond to users’ questions 6.85 7.94 7.8
AS-5 Employees who have the knowledge to answer user questions 7.05 8.07 7.73
AS-6 Employees who deal with users in a caring fashion 6.85 7.95 7.71
AS-7 Employees who understand the needs of their users 6.84 7.93 7.63
AS-8 Willingness to help users 6.95 7.84 7.7
AS-9 Dependability in handling users’ service problems 6.74 7.74 7.44
IC-1 Making electronic resources accessible from my home or office 6.71 7.88 7.29
IC-2 A library Web site enabling me to locate information on my own 6.89 7.95 7.47
IC-3 The printed library materials I need for my work 6.56 7.68 7.43
IC-4 The electronic information resources I need 6.45 7.75 7.39
IC-5 Modern equipment that lets me easily access needed information 7.01 8.06 7.67
IC-6 Easy-to-use access tools that allow me to find things on my own 6.77 7.91 7.46
IC-7 Making information easily accessible for independent use 6.84 7.9 7.49
IC-8 Print and/or electronic journal collections I require for my work 6.84 7.89 7.54
LP-1 Library space that inspires study and learning 6.42 7.81 7.04
LP-2 Quiet space for individual activities 6.79 7.85 7.17
LP-3 A comfortable and inviting location 6.78 8 7.49
LP-4 A getaway for study, learning, or research 6.8 7.93 7.46
LP-5 Community space for group learning and group study 6.42 7.59 7.4


Although the responses are not intended for comparison across universities, Jan tells me that our responses are among the highest reported.  Well done!

It is worth putting these results in perspective.

The chart above provides overall information, it includes faculty, staff, and students.  The next set of charts provide information about faculty only.  To interpret these charts, we need to understand the red and green zones.  From the LibQUAL Handbook:

When users’ perceptions fall outside the zone of tolerance the graph will include areas of red and green shading. If the distance between users’ minimum expectations and perceptions of service delivery is represented in red, that indicates a negative service adequacy gap score. If the distance between the desired level of service and perceptions of service delivery is represented in green, that indicates a positive service superiority gap score.

Faculty are our toughest group, they have high expectations. The first chart is for faculty only from 2006:

Radar chart for faculty only 2006

Lots of red!  All of the Information Control and most of Library as Place did not meet minimum expectations.  Even then, the faculty acknowledged that service was good.

The second chart is from this year.

Radar chart for faculty only 2015


The change is amazing!  Faculty needs have gotten more complex as UTSA moves from a predominately teaching to research university.  Even with the change in the environment, the charts show that most of our services are now within the zone of tolerance.

Look at the wide blue band associated with service (Affect of Service).  We know from comments that our users view service broadly—desks, chat, one-on-one consultations.  Faculty are very happy with the service they receive.

The blue band related to the collections and access to the collections (Information Control) is narrow but still very positive.  Jan tells me that it is typical, even in the best research libraries, to see red in this area.  With a flat budget, changing information marketplace, and increased user needs, this is impressive!

The tiny red sliver at IC1 indicates that faculty are still having some trouble accessing electronic resources from home.  Not bad—this is complex with elements that are outside our control.  We can keep working on this.

The green at LP5?  The faculty think that we have overdone it a bit providing community space for learning and group study.

I mentioned in the last post that at times it feels like we are stumbling into the future, but stepping back for a moment is helpful.  We have come a long way!  The changes we have made have helped the university.  We are making progress, not just changing.

What makes me most proud is that the improvements have occurred in all areas—Affect of Service, Information Control, and Library as Place.  I hope you are all proud of the great work that you do!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45 other followers