Publication Details

This book chapter was originally published as McGregor, F, Excellent Libraries: A Quality Assurance Perspective, in Niteki, DA (ed), Advances in Librarianship, 28, 2004, 17-53. Copyright Elsevier 2004. Original book available here.


[Extract] The proliferation of inspirational leadership and management publications available in libraries and bookshops suggests that there are many paths to excellence. Much of the literature is written with a business or corporate audience in mind; however, it is a source of ideas, theories and models that, potentially, can be applied in public or not-for-profit organizations. One theory which has enjoyed a long history of debate and discussion in management studies is quality management, variously referred to as TQM, Quality Assurance, Total Quality Control or one of many other alternatives. In this chapter the applicability and potential benefits, as well as the challenges and obstacles, of adopting one version of total quality management in a library setting are examined. This discussion of the application of quality management in libraries is based on the experience of the University of Wollongong Library (UWL) in selecting and adopting the Australian Business Excellence Framework (ABEF), administered by Standards Australia International.1 In adopting a quality framework, hereafter referred to as the ABEF, UWL intended to evaluate its progress towards its stated vision, mission and goals by applying for the associated Australian Business Excellence Award, (ABEA). The latter includes a major submission and rigorous on-site audit by qualified evaluators. Organizations can choose to enter the awards at different levels. In 1996, less than two years after adopting the framework, UWL was evaluated and received recognition at ‘achievement’ level. Two years later, evaluation at Award level resulted in reaching Finalist status and in 2000, UWL became the first library to compete with a range of profit and not-for-profit organizations to receive an Australian Business Excellence Award.