After 45 years of gathering and disseminating data on research library policies and practices, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) SPEC survey program will end with the publication of SPEC Kit 361 in November. Going forward, ARL is developing new ways to design and implement pilot projects to test new measures, and record and distribute case studies that illustrate best practices.
Since evolving from the Systems and Procedures Exchange Center (SPEC) clearinghouse in the early 1970s into the SPEC Kit publication series in 1973, the program has surveyed ARL member libraries on a broad range of strategic topics to assist libraries in the continuous improvement of their management systems.
In 2017, the ARL Assessment Program Visioning Task Force was charged to consider all current and potential ARL assessment-related services—including the goals, outcomes, deliverables, staff, and other resources related to the existing metrics, tools, and surveys—to develop a forward-looking program that advances the organizational outcomes of the 21st-century research library.
Among the task force’s recommendations was to leverage the expertise that resides in the ARL member libraries and to support members to share their expertise. With the completion of the research libraries assessment framework, the Association will create new pathways to leverage member expertise to understand practice outcomes and impact. ARL’s commitment to this new direction means the SPEC survey program will come to an end to redirect resources to these new endeavors.
The Association thanks the hundreds of SPEC survey authors, survey liaisons, and survey respondents for their participation in the program over these many years. ARL also thanks SPEC Kit readers and subscribers for their interest in and support of the publication. The SPEC Kit series would not have been possible without them. The Association looks forward to working with members to develop new ways to tell the story of the importance and success of research libraries in society and in their specific institutions in the 21st century.
About the Association of Research Libraries
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise, promotes equity and diversity, and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.