Value of academic libraries

As academic institutions face increasing calls for accountability, ACRL identifies opportunities for libraries.

Demonstrating impact and value

For the members of The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) demonstrating the relevance of libraries in the delivery of high quality education is a critical concern.  At the end of 2011, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) held two invitational summits which brought together librarians, academic administrators, researchers and representatives of higher education associations to discuss library impact and value.  It has now released a report based on the summits.

Discussions at the summits were informed by broad thematic questions including what actually IS library value; what do all stakeholders expect from institutional libraries, and what data exists - or is missing - in order to measure library value.

Just published, the report (Connect, Collaborate, and Communicate: A Report from the Value of Academic Libraries Summits) pulls together the key themes discussed at the Summits and draws some recommendations for next steps

Expand partnerships

Questions are being asked of the accountability of educational institutions by a wide range of stakeholders, including employers, Government, parents who are funding education, as well as the students themselves.   This trend is likely to continue and intensify.  A unified approach to institutional assessment, although not without challenges, is essential.  The report calls for libraries to work closely with related stakeholders.

Student success

Although what constitutes 'student success' is multi-faceted and can change from institution to institution, it is vital that libraries find ways to articulate their impact on student learning.  This includes the library's contribution to the development of information literacy skills; assisting in curriculum design and connecting students and faculty.

Educating librarians

The report calls for an increase of librarians understanding of library value and the impact the library has in terms of the various dimensions of student success.  Acknowledging the differing circumstances of individual institutions, it also calls for professional development opportunities so that librarians can learn about demonstrating value and impact, and share best practice with other stakeholders.

Potential leadership role

The report suggests that the ongoing demand for greater accountability provides an opportunity for libraries to act as a key 'connectors' in their institutions.  As well-connected and regarded institutions, they can work to bring together stakeholders and communities to drive forward impact measures and institutional targets and missions.

The report is free to download from the website.

Image courtesy of PinkSherbet via Flickr.