Adult user perceptions of library services provided by the Bessie Head Library in Pietermaritzburg, Msunduzi, KwaZulu-Natal.
This study examined the quality of service provided by the Bessie Head Library from the perspective of the adult users of the library. The study assessed the adult users’ perceptions of the quality of service and determined the level of user satisfaction at the Bessie Head Library. The purpose of the study was to identify gaps in the library services and to measure the users’ perceptions of the quality of the collections, staff services and library facilities. The study population consisted of 200 registered adult library users. Of the 200 adults under study, 197 responded to the questionnaire, yielding a response rate of 98.5% chosen by means of a convenience sample. The LibQUAL+TM survey instrument that was used in this study was modified and adapted for use in a public library, as the majority of research using the LibQUAL instrument was undertaken in academic libraries. The instrument consisted of both open-ended and closed questions. The three dimensions of service quality, that is, access to information, staff services and library facilities, formed the core of the instrument. An interview schedule was used to elicit background information from the Library Manager and Principal Librarian, on issues of library services, collection development policy, funding and general library issues. The results from the questionnaires were analyzed using SPSS to determine the frequency of responses. These were presented in the form of tables and graphs. The interview results were analyzed qualitatively, using thematic content analysis. The results from this study indicate that there is a gap between users’ expectations and perceptions of service quality at the Bessie Head Library. The extent of the gap varies depending on the individual services. The users’ expectations were not in keeping with the actual experiences at the library, especially with regard to access to information, as users experienced problems with Internet access and the reference collection. The level of satisfaction varied among the different user categories and the findings revealed that the majority of adult users rated the overall quality of services as good and that the library is, to a large extent, excelling in service provision. Based on the findings, recommendations were made to address problems presented in this study.
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