Since my last post, I’ve continued to think about the correlation between usability and assessment. I recently discussed this topic with one of my librarian colleagues, and she recommended that I research LibQual+, which offers a set of assessment services specifically geared toward libraries. From what I can gather, LibQual+ can be used by any type of library.
According to the LibQual+ website, its services allow libraries to “solicit, track, understand, and act upon users’ opinions of service quality…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.” This description closely resembles how I would define/describe usability testing.
The primary service offered by LibQual+ appears to be its Web-based survey, which includes training for librarians to help them assess library services and develop best practices. The survey measures “user perceptions of Affect of Service, Information Control, and Library as Place,” and it allows for “opened-ended comments from users regarding their concerns and suggestions about library services.”
The LibQual+ survey isn’t cheap, but it’s obviously very thorough and robust. I would love to see a sample survey. I am curious as to how popular/widespread LibQual+ currently is, and whether any libraries in my area have used its services before. If you know of a library that has used LibQual+, please let me know. My interest in assessment, particularly as it relates to usability, has been peaked.