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ARL Partners in Grant to Study Value of Academic Libraries

A grant to study the value of academic libraries to students, faculty, policymakers, funders, and others has been awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Libraries and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

Carol Tenopir, a professor in the School of Information Sciences, is the lead investigator on the project; Paula Kaufman, University Librarian and Dean of Libraries at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is a co-principal investigator; and Martha Kyrillidou, Senior Director for Statistics and Service Quality Programs, is leading the project from ARL.

The three-year grant, entitled "Value, Outcomes, and Return on Investment of Academic Libraries (Lib-Value)," will work to enrich, expand, test, and implement methodologies measuring the return on investment (ROI) in academic libraries.

“There is an increasing need for academic librarians to demonstrate the return on investment and value of the library to the various stakeholders of the institution and to guide library management in the redirection of library funds to important products and services for the future,” Tenopir said. Academic libraries actively participate in the many changes in scholarship, such as the move to e-science, collaborative and participatory scholarship, and focus on new materials such as data, multimedia, and born-digital assets. To remain relevant and central to the academic mission in the future, academic librarians need to be able to demonstrate the value that the academic library provides to the campus community using proven methods of measurement that will allow librarians to determine where their efforts should be concentrated and how funding should be allocated.

The results of the study will provide evidence and a set of tested methodologies and tools to help academic librarians demonstrate how the library provides value to its constituents and ROI to its funders, and to measure which products and services are of most value to enhancing the university’s mission. This project will greatly expand upon earlier studies to consider multiple measures of value that the academic library brings to teaching/learning, research, and social/professional/public engagement functions of the academic institution.

To ensure that the process will be rigorous, realistic, and highly visible in the academic library and university community, an experienced team of academic librarians and outstanding researchers bring their leadership, built on many years of experience, to the project. Two well-known researchers in the library field will serve as consultants: Bruce Kingma, an economist at Syracuse University, and Donald W. King, a statistician at the University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill. Additional project participants include: Gayle Baker, Ken Wise, Rachel Fleming-May, Regina Mays, Crystal Sherline, and Andrea Baer at the University of Tennessee; Tina Chrzastowski at the University of Illinois; and Henry Gross, Gary Roebuck, and David Green at ARL.

The project is also engaging an advisory committee of noted information science researchers José-Marie Griffiths, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Michael Koenig, Long Island University; academic library directors Carol Mandel, New York University, and Colleen Cook, Texas A&M; consultants Judy Luther and Joseph Matthews; and economists George Deltas, University of Illinois, and Nicolas Flores, University of Colorado.

A presentation about this study will take place at the Library Assessment Forum, to be held at 1:30 pm on January 15, 2010, at the Intercontinental Hotel, Griffin/Robinson Room, Boston, Massachusetts.


The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in North America. Its mission is to influence 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. ARL is on the Web at http://www.arl.org/.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has long ranked among the nation’s most distinguished teaching and research institutions. Its diverse, world-class programs reflect the mission of a comprehensive, land-grant university. The largest public university in Illinois, the U of I campus was chartered by the state in 1867 as the Illinois Industrial University and opened its doors to students in 1868. For more information about U of I, please visit http://www.illinois.edu.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee system. It has about 26,000 students, more than 1,400 faculty members and more than 300 degree programs. UT Knoxville is one of the nation's leading public research institutions and, with Battelle, co-manages the nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which provides faculty and students with unparalleled research and learning opportunities at the Department of Energy's largest science and energy lab. UT Knoxville is now home to the one of the world's most powerful academic computers, Kraken. Accredited since 1972, the School of Information Sciences within the College of Communication and Information has achieved regional, national and international recognition through its award-winning faculty and innovative research. For more information about UT Knoxville, see http://www.utk.edu/ and for more about the School of Information Sciences, see http://www.sis.utk.edu/.

 
 
 
 

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