Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

A Macro Sketch of Users' Needs, Satisfaction, and Library Performance: A Survey of University Libraries in Pakistan

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

A Macro Sketch of Users' Needs, Satisfaction, and Library Performance: A Survey of University Libraries in Pakistan

Article excerpt

Background of the Study

Library and information service providers in the new millennium are taking a growing interest in understanding and meeting the changing needs of their users. In an era of downsizing and budget cuts, user satisfaction and optimization of resources have become important areas for libraries to maintain awareness of, and to be able to change as user needs change. As well, libraries that understand the needs of their user base can not only work better to meet those needs, but can also market their services in a more effective fashion.

Rapid changes in library services and operations, demands for internal institutional accountability, and assessment expectations by external accrediting agencies have contributed to further development and application of user studies within academic libraries during the past decades.

According to Siatri (1999), user studies in library and information sciences emerged in the late 1940s and have continued to progress rapidly since then in conjunction with research developments in other related fields. Indeed, a look at the current amount of source material available to guide in the development and evaluation of user surveys in the information science field is staggering (Kim, 2003).

There are also studies available in library literature, which evaluate service quality and user satisfaction through confirmation-disconfirmation theory by using their level of satisfaction with current services. The purpose of library service quality is to know the information needs of library users and help them to fulfil their information needs based on their perceptions and expectations with library services. It also helps the administration for making decisions about the allocation of resources and future funding for the improvement of its services. Service quality affects the re-purchase intentions of customers (Ghobadian, Speller, & Jones, 1994). Customers who have experienced poor services will reveal their experience to other people, and therefore this is likely to lead to a reduction in potential customers (Horovitz, 1990). While public sector customers may not have the choices available in the private sector, poor service can still have a negative effect on reputation. Another possible result of delivering poor quality services may affect the university's overall reputation with the community at large, including funding bodies and employers organizations (Smith, Smith, & Clarke, 2007).

According to Hernon, Nitecki, and Altman (1999) academic institutions try to ensure students' academic success by providing them best teaching faculty and excellent quality supporting services: libraries, residential facilities, food services. These services not only increase their satisfaction but also create very pleasant image of the campus. Students' satisfaction with these services helps to convince both students and their parents that the educational program and campus services provide value for the money spent. Better service reputation of the institution helps in getting donations. High quality service creates loyal customers. Students and parents also give weightage to the institutes which have good library facilities.

Library service quality is also necessary for accreditation standards (Hernon, et al., 1999).

In user satisfaction literature expectations are defined as predictions of performance, while the service quality literature defines expectations as desires or wants. The predictions, wants or desires of the customer essentially become a standard against which the perceived, actual experience is contrasted. When service quality is lower than expected, expectations are disconfirmed negatively and the customer is likely to feel disappointed to some degree. Conversely, when perceptions are higher than expectations, positive disconfirmation results; the customer is delighted with the experience and service quality perception and satisfaction grow. …

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