Every organization’s service has a quality dimension— ranging from wonderful to awful. Service and quality cannot be disconnected. Quality is the manner in which the service is delivered or, in some cases, not delivered. For a library, service quality encompasses the interactive relationship between the library and the people whom it is supposed to serve. A library that adheres to all the professionally approved rules and procedures for acquiring, organizing, managing, and preserving material but has no customers cannot claim quality because a major component is missing: satisfying people’s needs, requests, and desires for information. Maurice B. Line defined librarianship as “managing information resources for people.” How the library sees and interacts with those people—customers— clearly affects the quality and nature of the service rendered. As Françoise Hébert noted, “When library and customer measures of quality are not congruent, the library may be meeting its intended internal standards of performance but may not be performing well in the eyes of its customers”.


Service quality is multidimensional. Two critical dimensions are content and context. Content refers to obtaining what prompted the visit (physically or virtually)—such as particular materials or information, study space, technology, or an acceptable substitute. Context covers the experience itself: examples are interactions with staff, ease or difficulty of navigating the system, and the comfort of the physical environment.