The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries at comprehensive, research institutions in the US and Canada that share similar research missions, aspirations, and achievements. The Association's importance and distinction is born from its membership and the nature of the institutions represented. Its mission and guiding principles shape these basic values that are essential elements of the Association’s success:

  • Open and equitable access to information is a fundamental tenet to society.
  • Research libraries are active agents central to the process of the transmission and creation of knowledge.
  • Research libraries have a responsibility to anticipate and prepare for the information needs of present and future users.
  • Collaboration among libraries improves prospects for individual library success in fulfilling local needs.

ARL member libraries make up a large portion of the academic and research library marketplace, spending more than $1.4 billion every year on library materials.

Mission Statement

The Association of Research Libraries influences the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations.

Guiding Principles

The “we” in the following statements refers to the Association.

Distinctive Mission

  • We complement and build on the strengths of other organizations.
  • We rethink historic assumptions.
  • Our policy positions guide our strategies.


  • We are a member-driven organization.
  • We are accountable to our members.
  • We provide opportunity for full engagement by all member representatives.
  • We respect the diversity of our membership.

Intellectual Freedom and Scholarly Communication

  • We promote and advocate barrier-free access to research and educational information resources.


  • We build relationships with other higher education societies and associations that share our common goals.
  • We work closely with other library-related associations, councils, federations, etc.


  • We encourage and support our members as they strive to reflect society's diversity in their staffing, collections, leadership, and programs.
  • We strive to employ a diverse staff.

Operational Effectiveness

  • We are focused on the needs of our member libraries.
  • We allocate our resources wisely and practice sound fiscal management.
  • We promote continuing staff development and growth.


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