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Assessing Service Quality: Satisfying the Expectations of Library Customers

Hernon, Peter
Altman, Ellen

American Library Association
Published:October 1, 1998

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Description: From Library Journal
As a complement to their earlier Service Quality in Academic Libraries (Professional Media, LJ 2/1/96), authors Hernon (GSLIS, Simmons Coll.) and Altman (Graduate Library School, Univ. of Arizona) now concentrate on how to assess service quality and customer satisfaction. Here they suggest new ways to think about library services, clarify the distinction between service quality and customer satisfaction, present strategies for developing a customer service plan, identify procedures to measure service quality and satisfaction, and, if you havent already guessed, challenge conventional thinking about these powerful principles. These ideas are built on long-held important elements that guide any successful business; the bibliography is replete with library literature indicating the wide-ranging adaptation of these vital components in libraries and the prevailing awareness of how important it is to focus the operations of a library around the expectations of the customer. Numerous excellent tracking forms and survey and satisfaction instruments provide mechanisms to carry out a commitment to satisfying the needs of customers, especially for leading librarians who long ago tossed that useless suggestion box. Kudos to these authors for providing an essential resource for librarians who understand that folks who walk into their libraries are not patrons but customers. Highly recommended, especially for MLIS faculty and students.Dale F. Farris, Groves, TX
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
Hernon and Altman intend to approach assessment of library service anew, beginning from certain "touchstones critical to the well-being of libraries: customers, satisfaction, loyalty, and reputation." They argue that measuring satisfaction has received much emphasis, but measuring the quality of service provided library customers has not (they believe customer most accurately reflects the library service relationship). Customers should be the primary source of information about the quality of services, because they are the library's reason for being, not merely captive service-receivers. Hernon and Altman cover using surveys and focus groups to collect information about a service and interpreting findings, and the "separate but intertwined" matters of satisfaction and service quality. They include numerous model forms that any library can adapt to measure quality of service. Edward Swanson

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