skip to content

Cambridge Libraries Survey: data and privacy information

How will my data and privacy be handled?

The Head of Assessment and User Experience at Cambridge University Libraries is primarily responsible for the data gathered through the survey. Other staff members of Cambridge University Libraries may also act as assistants and may have temporary access to some, or all, of the data. The underlying LibQUAL+ survey tool is managed by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). More information on how ARL and LibQUAL+ handle privacy can be found below this section.

Data gathered through the survey includes quantitative data from Likert rating scale questions. It includes qualitative data from the free-text comments field. It includes network addresses and may also include personal data, i.e. names and contact details from survey respondents who wish to be entered into a prize draw on completing the survey. Names and contact details are not linked to survey responses, are stored separately, are only be used for the prize draw exercise and are deleted after the exercise has been completed. Network addresses are removed from the data by Cambridge University Libraries before the data is analysed. All data is held securely on University of Cambridge servers.

Data will not be kept for any longer than it is needed, and will be securely disposed of after a maximum of seven years from the date of its collection.

Cambridge University Libraries (CUL) may share data, analyses and reports related to College and Department/Faculty libraries and their users. Cambridge University Libraries are committed to protecting respondent anonymity and every care will be taken to ensure that it will not be possible to identify an individual. If there is any danger of data identifying an individual respondent that data will not be shared and only seen by the CUL Head of Assessment and User Experience. Names and other information that has the potential to identify an individual are removed from the qualitative data immediately after it is received and before any analysis of that data is conducted.

ARL, LibQUAL+ and your data privacy

The LibQUAL+ approach to privacy is guided by the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association and the LibQUAL+ team are committed to the highest ethical behaviour and will take every measure possible to protect the privacy of individual participants.

There is no means of linking your answers to your identity. Although some information is captured from respondents, the respondent's privacy is protected in several ways. First, network addresses are captured. However, this is only very indirect information and it would be difficult to trace back to an individual. Secondly, each response is disaggregated as it reaches the server, and survey results will ultimately be reported back to the participating institutions as aggregate mean score data.

LibQUAL+ is an assessment protocol administered by the Association of Research Libraries, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization as described under United States Internal Revenue Code. Only organizations subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission or US air carriers and ticket agents subject to the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation may participate in Safe Harbor. As such, LibQUAL+ is ineligible for Safe Harbor certification. However, they take data privacy and security very seriously and have in place practices that comply with Safe Harbor's principles.

An incentive is offered to increase response rates. At the end of the web-based survey respondents may elect to include their email address, which will enter them in a draw for one of ten £50 Amazon vouchers. When the survey data is sent to the database, the respondents' answers are separated from their email addresses before they are stored, to ensure confidentiality. Once they are collected, there is no way to link them to an individual's responses, ensuring confidentiality for participants in the prize draw.

ARL have formally confirmed to Cambridge University Libraries that their data practices are in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).


If you have any questions about the survey or how your data will be handled please contact:

Dominic Dixon, Head of Assessment and User Experience, Cambridge University Libraries

Cambridge University Library

West Road



Contact Futurelib


Email Futurelib:


  Follow Futurelib on Twitter