Alchemical Thoughts

Article Note: Asking if there is a core set of academic library values

Posted on: August 22, 2008

Citation for the article:

McKnight, Susan. "Are There Common Academic Customer Values?" Library Management 29.6/7 (2008): 600-619.

Read via Emerald.

The only reason I read this article is because it was suggested in the LibQual+ listserv that I now have to follow. Since I am helping out in my library with the upcoming survey, which we are using as supporting material for the accreditation process (actually, they call it "reaffirmation" now), I am signed up to get their little e-mails. Anyhow, this article citation came in, and I found it. Though the title seemed promising, the article itself is pretty much very technical and a summary of observations/survey items more than anything else. For those of us with a more practical mind (i.e. like Joe Friday, we say, "just the facts, ma'am"), you may as well skip ahead to the conclusion to get the answer.

  • The article's key question was: "Is there a core set of academic library values?" (600-601). This is from the article's opening. After you go through the methodology, the different tools used in addition to LibQual+, so on, you finally get your answer.
  • The answer is yes (617). And the author is even helpful enough to list these core values. I am quoting them directly from the article on pages 617-618:
    1. "appropriate library space"
    2. "competent staff"
    3. "core reading list materials"
    4. "relevant collection (books and journals)"
    5. "access tools, e.g. catalogue, online databases"
    6. "communication of services via web site, signage and guiding"
    7. "photocopiers and printers"
    8. "appropriate opening hours"
    9. "appropriate borrowing policies"
    10. "information literacy skills training"

I will dare to say that there is nothing revolutionary on this list. I am sure that most academic librarians would say these are important academic library values. We probably have known for a while that these are things (in varying degrees) that our patrons value. What surveys like this do is simply validate what we know already. If nothing else, for library managers, this is the kind of information they can use as evidence when their bosses say, "what do you mean you want more space for the library?" or some other similar question.

So, library managers should probably look over this article. Librarians like me in the trenches, well, I just gave you the gist of it, so you can probably skip it.

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