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Purpose – While academic libraries have often purchased proprietary software to assess patron satisfaction, the open source movement has generated high-quality software available free of charge. These tools are useful alternatives in an era marked by tremendous budget cuts familiar to many academic libraries. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the ability of open source software to effectively and affordably measure the quality of service at academic libraries.

Design/methodology/approach – The author’s experience with using the open source tool LimeSurvey to administer a library survey over a three-year period serves as a case study for other institutions. A literature review contextualizes the history of patron satisfaction surveys within academic libraries and questions the lack of an open source presence. Popular proprietary survey software is reported as a viable but expensive option, leading to a detailed case study of Sarah Lawrence College’s successful addition of open source software to its assessment procedures.

Findings – LimeSurvey is a flexible, customizable, and cost-effective tool for a small college library investing in querying its patrons for constructive feedback as a means of improving user experience.

Originality/value – This paper will be of value to any library on a fixed budget looking to assess patron satisfaction with resources and services. Very little literature currently exists on this topic, but as the open source movement continues to flourish this software can play an integral role in allowing libraries to cut costs but not indispensable patron feedback.


The version of this article in this repository is the pre-print. The publisher's (Emerald Insight) version can be found on their homepage and is available via subscription to the journal Reference Services Review: