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ARL Awarded IMLS and Mellon Grants for Strategic Thinking and Design

System of action exemplified by El Sistema

ARL has been awarded two grants to support a strategic thinking and design process in 2013–2014. This strategic process will frame the critical work of the Association and define the role ARL plays in higher education and research to maximize its ability to be agile and responsive to rapidly changing priorities and member institution needs. To accomplish this goal, the ARL membership and members of the higher education and library communities will engage in a three-part iterative process of strategic thinking:

  1. Data gathering and analysis (July 2013–January 2014)
  2. Regional meetings (September–December 2013)
  3. Design studios (October 2013–January 2014)

The three streams will each inform the work of the other and will merge at a retreat of the ARL Board of Directors in February 2014.

A $49,800 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program will support the regional meetings and design studio process. The regional meetings will be held throughout the US and Canada with ARL member libraries and other stakeholders interested in the future of research libraries. The design process works by incorporating new information as it is introduced along the way, through: (a) analysis of what has been done in the past; (b) asking what the relationship of past work is to the emerging vision and goals; (c) new questions that are raised by provisional what-if scenarios; and (d) new stakeholders who are pulled into the process.

A $50,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support the data-gathering and analysis phase of the process. This phase is important for developing a clear understanding of current research library and higher education issues and challenges. An environmental scan of all ARL libraries and universities—including their IT organizations and university presses—through qualitative data mining of mission statements, strategic plans, and organizational charts will be completed. The information gathered will be used to inform the regional meetings and design studio processes.

“We are very appreciative of the generous support of both IMLS and the Mellon Foundation for ARL’s strategic thinking and design process,” said Elliott Shore, executive director. “This is an exciting time for the Association to work with our many stakeholders to conceive a new vision that is compelling, strategically ambiguous, and aspirational, that will result in systems of action that shape the future of research libraries.”

Visit the ARL website for more information about the strategic thinking and design process.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in the US and Canada. 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/.