Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Registered at last

As much as I hate to say this, we are officially registered for LibQUAL. Let me say before we've even done it, I HATE LibQUAL with a passion. First of all, as a small library with a small budget, I hate seeing $3,200 disappear for a product I don't believe in. We pay the same price as the Indiana Universities and Ohio State Universities of the world, it doesn't matter that we're 40 times smaller. Also, I believe their price has gone up $700 since last academic year, which was up about $500 from the year before. That is ludicrous inflation.

Furthermore, when I attended the first half of training session at ALA annual in 2006. We were told this was required, which will be interesting as I'm not planning to go to any ALA meeting this year for the other half. Someone asked what a good sample size would be. The responded 1,000 students and something like 300 faculty. Someone else asked about a small institution, because hers only had 2,500 students. They responded that 1,000 was still a good number to shoot for. Asking for nearly half of the student body to respond is not reasonable. What about for us, we only have 1,400 students, and how can we get 300 faculty when we only have 85 including the librarians?!?

Based on this interaction and others, they are clueless about what it is to be a small college library. To these big, money-grubbing companies, small means 5,000 students. 1,400 doesn't exist, or is a bug they take sadistic pleasure in squashing... okay, I'm getting a bit dramatic. But you get the picture.

Furthermore, it breaks every rule of a good survey. I find the survey sheet confusing as all heck... what's the minimum, what's the maximum, and where does your library actually fall... Each of those for each of the 20-something questions... that's a lot of questions. And what on earth would I put for maximum level of service I could expect?!? Apparently not everyone picks the highest level for that one, and it makes me think they're all idiots.

Additionally, I have had issues with their Web site several times. Currently I have their confirmation window that has frozen one instance of my browser window and I cannot get it to close.

Yes, we do have accreditation coming up soon. Yes, LibQUAL is the big name in library assessment... the ONLY name in library assessment, and it needs to be stamped with the LibQUAL name. And my director keeps reminding me there are just certain things you have to do "because we're a library." I just think we could probably come up with a more meaningful survey on our own, and $3,200 is a lot of money to spend to just get access to other people's results. Can't we just call some of those libraries up and ask them to send us their results? That would just cost the price of a long-distance call.

I have never been so frustrated to spend someone else's money. Every interaction I have had with LibQUAL has left me unimpressed... or maybe depressed is a better word.

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