Date of this Version
Library Philosophy and Practice 2012
The conventional services and traditional role of university libraries is changed due to multiple sources of information, high demand of users, and application of information technology, competition among service sectors and high student enrolments. The university libraries are also facing different challenges such as advances in information technology, rising cost of material, increased accessibility of research materials via the Web and tentative budget allocations.
Each of these challenges requires library administration to become more concerned of their users' expectations. "Retaining and growing their customer base and focusing more energy on meeting their customers' expectations is the only way for academic libraries to survive in this volatile competitive environment" (Cullen, 2001, pp. 662-663). The understanding of users' expectations and meeting those expectations is the only way for libraries to retain their users. Assessment of library service quality helps in identifying users' needs, wants and decreasing the gap between users' perceptions and expectations. It also provides users' feedback in order to improve the quality of library services.
The central role of users in assessment of service quality has been recognizing and "only customers judge quality; all other judgments are essentially irrelevant" (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1988). Many researchers (Chweh, 1981; Hernon & McClure, 1986; Hernon & McClure, 1990; Nitecki, 1996; Oldman, Mary, & Wills, 1977; Taylor & Voigt, 1986; Whitehall, 1992)advocates that the user is the best judge to assess the quality of the services. The traditional method of service quality has become obsolete and no more fulfills the purpose of user's demands for information. Nitecki (1996) further added "a measure of library quality based solely on collections has become obsolete" (p. 182). Currently the service quality defines as "difference between customer's perceptions and expectations" (Parasuraman, et al., 1988).
In this regard, library authorities should recognize the different needs, priorities and feedback of library users. All current and future library services must be user-centred. Library administration should consider the assessment of services as an important aspect for establishing right goals and policies. Library should not function in total isolation from its users' expectations. Libraries decision makers should know the users' expectations to improve the quality of services offered (Scott, 1992).
The establishment of Higher Education Commission (HEC) in 2002 started the rapid expansion of Pakistani university libraries. The libraries enrollment within the universities have increased, the methods of learning have changed, science and technology have grown and the library became recognized as an important source of learning. The importance of user-centered approach in libraries services has increased. However, in spite of rising expectations for enhanced library services in universities of Pakistan, there has been no study conducted among the users to investigate their expectations on the libraries services quality.
It seems to be very interesting and useful to investigate the minimum and desired expectations of students and university professors within the university library setting.
Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study with reference to assessment of library service quality in university libraries of Pakistan are:
1) To identify the minimum expectations of graduates, undergraduates and faculty.
2) To investigate the desire expectations of graduates, undergraduates and faculty.
3) To check the significant difference between minimum expectations and desired expectations.