Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Jantti, MH, Quality, Service, Excellence: a decade of quality, in European Association for Health Information Libraries Workshop, Implementation of Quality Systems and Certification of Biomedical Libraries, Palermo, Sicily, 23-25 June 2005.


As the first education and training organisation to be recognised with an Australian Business Excellence Award in the Award’s 16 year history, the University of Wollongong (UOW) Library has demonstrated how the principles of quality and excellence can readily be translated to the library and information sector. The Australian Quality Council’s (AQC) Framework was selected in 1994 as the Library’s change management framework. Now known as the Australian Business Excellence Framework (ABEF), it provides a structured and integrated management system describing the essential features, characteristics and approaches of organisational systems essential to sustainable and excellent performance. The ABEF criteria provide organisations with a comprehensive list of inter-connected criteria and descriptors against which to evaluate their strategies, processes and systems. These include the quality and continuous improvement of services and resources and provide the basis for both internal and external review and assessment as well as benchmarking of processes and outcomes. Results from such evaluations can be a powerful catalyst for a change agenda, as the assessment process provides evidence of what needs to be improved at all levels of the organisation. Addressing the opportunities for improvement can introduce new vitality and innovation in the development, management and delivery of quality services and resources to clients. The quality of provided services, therefore, is dependent on continuous learning, implementation of performance measures and a readiness to adopt a range of evaluation strategies. Over the past decade the approaches implemented by UOW Library have been recognised by accrediting and evaluation bodies as good, and in some instances, best practice. Examples include: developing client feedback systems, promoting commitment to excellence through a Client Service Charter and Service Standards, implementing comprehensive staff training and development programs, formulation of Service Level Agreements with suppliers, evaluating services through a ‘Mystery Shopper’ program. The adoption of the ABEF and other standards has been critical in achieving Library goals including future sustainability and recognition on the quality of Library services. This is evidenced by a range of performance indicators as well as improved clarity of goals and purpose; active involvement and participation of staff at all levels in achieving the mission of the organisation; devolved problem-solving; innovative services and programs; increased client and stakeholder satisfaction with Library services; and a collective responsibility and passion for ongoing success.