Benchmarking user satisfaction in academic libraries - a case study

Sebastian Mundt


Customer satisfaction and service quality have so far been evaluated mostly from a local perspective although the quality element has been firmly established in academic library management for at least a decade. Critics of inter-institutional comparisons often object that different preconditions are not considered adequately. Examples from a joint user satisfaction survey conducted by 15 German university libraries in 2001 suggest that comparative data are a suitable means to identify cases of "best practice" and can effectively initialize processes of customer-focussed improvement. Furthermore, if compared with corresponding statistical data or performance measures, satisfaction ratings can reveal possible structural strengths and deficits relative to other libraries. On the other hand, follow-up telephone interviews with participating libraries showed that the survey results substantially challenged the institutions' internal communication and public relations organisation, and underlined that even in a well-developed culture of assessment the need for professional mediation and coordination of comparative analyses may not be underestimated.


customer satisfaction; best practice;

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ISSN 1756-1086 (Online)