CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION.
Quality issue has been of great concern to service industries and
organisations in recent years.
Service Marketing Literature reveal that interest in the measurement of service quality is thus understandably high and the delivery of higher levels of service quality is the strategy that is increasingly being offered as a
key to service providers’ effort to position themselves more effectively in the market place (Brown and Swarts, 1998; Parasuraman, Zeithmal and
Berry, 1988; Rudie and Wansley, 1985).
Librarians have long recognised the need to increase the range and maintain the quality of the products and services, which they provide, and “total quality management” and “quality control” concepts have become important in many academic libraries. However ‘quality’ remains a very difficult concept to define, and there are a number of different approaches used in assessing quality of services. (Brown and Swartz, 1989; Cronin and Taylor 1992).
Areas which are mostly examined among librarians are effectiveness, efficiency costing (cost-effectiveness), service quality, satisfaction and so forth, and to express the results of such evaluation in
terms of more traditional quantitative measures: input, output and outcome
(eg. Quality assurance).
Managerial attitudes and approaches including those developing in higher education are shifting towards incorporating the customer perspective in plarining and evaluating services.
Although theoretical arguments for user-based evaluation of libraries as
information systems have been posed, few measurement tools have actually been developed for managers to apply in their attempt to gather data based on user-based criteria for measuring library effectiveness or quality. The library user rarely is associated with measures of a library’s quality.
This project looks at “perceived quality” – a user based approach which assumes that quality “lies in the eyes of the beholder” (Garvin 1984, p27). In a separate study Hernon and Altaman (1996) state: ”Quality is in the eyes of the beholder if customers say there is quality service, then there is. If they do not, then there is not. It does not matter what an organisation believes about its level of service. what the customer thinks about both
the process and the outcome of the service is the important issue in customer’s perception”. (Hemon uid Altaman, 1996:pp 5-7)
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