Total Quality Management in Libraries
WHAT IS QUALITY?
The word Quality has many different meanings ranging from conventional to
those that are strategic in nature. Conventional meaning of quality
usually describe a quality as one which looks good, works well, which is
reliable etc. , Strategic meaning of quality is concerned with “meeting
customer requirements”. When a manufacturer is able to meet the exact
requirements of the customer consistently then that is called as
Quality. Quality then need not always mean good, reliable, long lasting
etc. If the manufacturer provides what the customer demands (good or bad)
then that is Quality.
Some classical definitions of quality are as follows:
Quality if physical or non physical characteristics that constitutes that
basic nature of a thing or is one of its distinguishing features. Quality should
be aimed at the needs of the consumer, present and future.
By Deming Webster’s Dictionary
TQM is “a system of continuous improvement employing participative management
and centered on the needs of customers” (Jurow & Barnard, 1993). Key
components of TQM are employee involvement and training, problem solving teams,
statistical methods, long-term goals and thinking, and recognition that the
system, not people, produces inefficiencies. Libraries can benefit from TQM in
three ways: breaking down interdepartmental barriers; redefining the
beneficiaries of library services as internal customers (staff) and external
customers (patrons); and reaching a state of continuous improvement (Jurow &
A library should be focusing on providing the best services possible, and be
willing to change to serve its customers. To determine if changes need to be
made, a librarian might ask: What do the customers come in for? How can I
look at the efficiency of my library? How do we serve the current users that
exist today? First learn about the customer, then solve the problems. An
American, W. Edwards Deming, developed the concept of Total Quality Management
(TQM) after World War II for improving the production quality of goods and
services. The concept of TQM is applicable to academics. Many educators believe
that the Deming’s concept of TQM provides guiding principles for needed
educational reform. In his article, “The Quality Revolution in Education,” John
Jay Bonstingl outlines the TQM principles he believes are most salient to
education reform. He calls them the “Four Pillars of Total Quality Management. ”
Principle 1: Synergistic Relationships:-
According to this principle, an organization must focus, first and foremost,
on its suppliers and customers. In a TQM organization, everyone is both a
customer and supplier; this confusing concept emphasizes “the systematic nature
of the work in which all are involved”. In other words, teamwork and
collaboration are essential. Traditionally, education has been prone to
individual and departmental isolation. The very application of the first pillar
of TQM to education emphasizes the synergistic relationship between the
“suppliers” and “customers”.
The product of the successful work together is the development of the
student’s capabilities, interests, and character. In one sense, the user is the
customer for the library, as the recipient of educational services provided for
the student’s growth and improvement. Viewed in this way, the library is the
suppliers of effective learning tools, environments, and systems to the
users, who is the customer for library. The library staff must educate the
users regarding how to access the resources in the library for the users s by
Principle 2: Continuous Improvement and Self Evaluation
The second pillar of TQM applied to education is the total dedication to
continuous improvement, personally and collectively. Within a Total Quality
library setting, administrators work collaboratively with their users. The
foundations for this system were fear, intimidation, and an adversarial approach
to problem-solving. Today it is in our best interest to encourage everyone’s
potential by dedicating ourselves to the continual improvement of our own
abilities and those of the people with whom we work and live. Total Quality is,
essentially, a win-win approach which works to everyone’s ultimate advantage.
According to Deming, no human being should ever evaluate another human being.
Therefore, TQM emphasizes self-evaluation as part of a continuous improvement
Principle 3: A System of Ongoing Process
The third pillar of TQM as applied in academics is the recognition of the
organization as a system and the work done within the organization is an ongoing
process. Quality speaks to working on the system, which will identify and
eliminate the flawed processes. Since systems have made up of processes,
the improvements made in the quality of those processes largely determine the
quality of the resulting product.
Principle 4: Leadership
The fourth TQM principle applied to education is that the success of TQM is
the responsibility of top management. The librarians must establish the context
in which users can have benefit by providing best services through the
continuous efforts and improvement in the services. According to the
practical evidences, the TQM principles help the library in following clauses:
1) Redefine the role, purpose and responsibilities of libraryschools.
2) Improve library as a best user center for a best “way of life.
“ 3) Plan comprehensive leadership training for users at all levels.
4) Create staff development programmes. 5) Use research and
practice-based information to guide both policy and practice.
In order to achieve the above as opportunities to the academic scenario, in
addition to patience, participatory management among well-trained and educated
partners is crucial to the success of TQM in libraries, everyone involved must
understand and believe in principles. Some personnel who are committed to the
principles can facilitate success with TQM. Their vision and skills in
leadership, management, interpersonal communication, problem solving and
creative cooperation are important qualities for successful implementation of
14 STEPS TO TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT
Based on his work with Japanese managers and others, Deming (1986; Walton,
1986) outlined 14 steps that managers in any type of organization can take to
implement a total quality management program.
3. Cease dependence on mass inspection.
Inspect products and services
which only enough to
be able to identify ways to improve the process.
4. End the practice of awarding business on
price tag alone. The lowest priced goods
are not always the highest
qualities; choose a supplier based on its record of
improvement and then
make a long-term commitment to it.
5. Improve constantly and forever the system of
product and service. Improvement is
not a one-time effort;
management is responsible for leading the organization into
the practice of continual
improvement in quality and productivity.
6. Institute training and retraining. Workers need to
know how to do their jobs
correctly even if they need
to learn new skills.
7. Institute leadership. Leadership is the job of
management. Managers have the
responsibility to discover the
barriers that prevent staff from taking pride in what
they do. The staff
will know what those barriers are.
8. Drive out fear. People often fear reprisal if they “make waves” at
need to create an environment where workers can
express concerns with confidence.
9. Break down barriers between staff areas. Managers should promote
by helping staff in different areas/departments work
Interrelationships among departments encourages
higher quality decision-making.
10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workforce. Using
alone, without an investigation into the processes
of the workplace, can be offensive
to workers because they imply that a better job
could be done. Managers need to
learn real ways of motivating people in their
11. Eliminate numerical quotas. Quotas impede quality more than any other
Working condition, they leave no room for
improvement. Workers need the
flexibility to give customers the level of
service they need.
12. Remove barriers to pride of workmanship. Give workers respect and
feedback about how they are doing their jobs.
13. Institute a vigorous program of education and retraining. With continuous
improvement, job descriptions will change. As
a result, employees need to be
educated and retrained so they will be successful at new
14. Take action to accomplish the transformation. Management must work as a
team to carry out the previous 13 steps.
HOW LIBRARIES HAVE IMPROVED SERVICES WITH TQM
Many libraries have implemented TQM successfully. Harvard College Library
created a task force which rewrote the library’s vision statement, and
considered changes that would have to be made in order to develop a new
organization culture–one that “highlights the changing nature of staff roles and
responsibilities in an era of pervasive change” (Clack, 1993). With the help of
consultants, Harvard learned about TQM, and found that its principles of service
excellence, teamwork, ongoing training and skill building, process/systems
focus, continuous improvement, and cooperation across boundaries could help them
make the changes they needed.
The Oregon State University Libraries also decided to test TQM. Two small
teams, the Shelving Team from the stack maintenance unit, and the Documents Team
from the government publications unit worked with outside facilitators. Each
team surveyed users and staff and found that some issues, perceived as critical
by staff, were not perceived as critical by customers and therefore needed
rethinking in terms of TQM. The Shelving Team, which wanted to address the
problem of long lasting shelving backlogs, found that the shelvers, who worked
alone on the floors, felt isolated and unmotivated to make progress. Using this
information, the team devised a plan for shelvers to work in small groups and
have an assigned floor. The result was an increased “espirit de corps,” tidier
shelves, and less backlog (Butcher, 1993).
Sirkin (1993) suggests some ways a library might use the principles of TQM to
enhance library services.
Create service brochures and information kits
Conduct a user survey about library services
Change hours of operation
Provide a more convenient material return
Simplify checkout of materials
Use flexibility in staff assignments
Ask vendors to give product demonstrations
Give new staff a thorough orientation
Create interdepartmental library advisory groups
Improve the physical layout of the library
Develop an active outreach program
Publicize new or changed services
Develop user and staff training materials
Target services to specific groups
Offer electronic document delivery
POTENTIAL CHALLENGES IN LIBRARIES
While TQM clearly has positive aspects, implementing it can have potential
challenges as well. Jurow and Barnard (1993) identify four barriers to the
adoption of TQM in libraries:
1) Vocabulary: objections to terms such as “total,” “quality,” and
2) Commitment: TQM takes several years to implement and requires a long-term
Commitment by library managers
3) Process: Our culture tends to be impatient and we try to solve problems
to TQM’s careful process analysis; and (4)
professionalization: professional staff can
be resistant to turning over their practices and
services to what they perceive as
the uninformed whims of the customer”.
Riggs (1992) summarizes the notable principles of TQM:
(1) Manage by fact: make library decisions after careful analysis of data
With tools such as check sheets, histograms, and
(2) Eliminate rework: library work is often labor intensive-simplify it and
sure, it is done properly the first time;
(3) Respect people and ideas: staff is the library’s most valuable resources,
they should be encouraged to point out problems
without fear of management;
(4) Empower people: trust library staff to act responsibly and give them the
appropriate authority to make decisions that can
improve the quality of work they do.
Libraries are apt places to implement TQM. Libraries are service
organizations dedicated to their users (customers). By formulating a strategic
plan, and following it with a commitment to continuous quality improvement,
library managers can transform and improve their organizations.
REFERENCES & SUGGESTED READINGS
Butcher, K. S. (1993). Total quality management: The Oregon State University
Library’s experience. “Journal of Library Administration,” 18(1/2), 45-56. (EJ
Deming, W. E. (1986). “Out of the crisis. ” Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Center for Advanced Engineering Study.
Jurow, S. & Barnard, S. B. (1993). Introduction: TQM fundamentals and
overview of contents. “Journal of Library Administration,” 18(1/2), 1-13. (EJ
Mackey, T. & Mackey, K. (1992). Think quality! The Deming approach does
work in libraries. “Library Journal,” 117(9), 57-61. (EJ 446 234)