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Research Library Impact Framework Initiative and Pilots

ARL’s Research Library Impact Framework initiative was established in 2019 with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and extends the recommendations developed by the Assessment Program Visioning Task Force in 2017. The Task Force outlined a series of recommendations aimed at aligning the research and analytics work of the Association with the goals and needs of members. Among the recommendations was to create a Research Library Impact Framework that explored library services, operations, impact, and alignment with institutional mission and goals across four critical areas:

  • Research and Scholarly Life Cycle
  • Teaching, Learning, and Student Success
  • Collections
  • Physical Space

Five research questions from the framework were identified as high priority by the ARL Assessment Committee (now called the Research and Analytics Committee) in August 2018, based on extensive feedback from ARL library directors and assessment practitioners. The five questions were  intended to help ARL members “set the context for understanding and communicating the stories of the research library to external stakeholders and to provide the tools for members to tell this story locally.”

Eighteen teams from ARL libraries developed a pilot project in response to one of the five research questions. The pilots are two types of research activities: a project that is a formal, original research study, facilitated by ARL and its members or a practice brief documenting research-based information that improves library assessment work. The overall goal of the teams’ research outputs was to help ARL members communicate the impact and relevance of research libraries’ and archives’ activities in ways that resonate with budget holders and stakeholders.

On May 16 and June 8, 2022, the teams celebrated the conclusion of the initiative with many of the teams presenting the results of their projects. To read the reports and view the final presentations, click on one of the research questions.

  1. (How) does the library help to increase research productivity and impact?
  2. (How) do library spaces facilitate innovative research, creative thinking, and problem-solving?
  3. (How) does the library contribute to equitable student outcomes and an inclusive learning environment?
  4. (How) do the library’s special collections specifically support and promote teaching, learning, and research?
  5. (How) do the library’s collections play a role in attracting and retaining top researchers and faculty to the institution?

The celebration included several general presentations:

Two workshops were conducted by members of RLIF project teams and were made possible with funds from the IMLS RLIF grant.

Library Space Design conducted by the University of Florida RLIF project team members: Valrie Minson, Laura Spears, Jason Meneeley, Meg Portillo and Adrian Del Monte. 

Getting Started with Project Outcome for Academic Libraries conducted by Gena Parsons-Diamond, ACRL Program Officer, and Greg Davis, Assistant Director of Assessment and Planning, at Iowa State University.

The Research and Assessment Cycle Toolkit is a series of training modules organized within five areas of the reserach and assessment process (Identify, Articulate, Collect, Organize & Analyze, and Act). The modules and other supporting materials were developed for the assessment community and made possible with funds from the IMLS RLIF grant. ARL is indebted to Megan Oakleaf (Syracuse), Becky Croxton (UNC-Charlotte) and Emily Daly (Duke) for their leadership and development of the toolkit.

For more information about the Research Library Impact Framework Pilots, see this document with FAQs, the five research topics, and a brief version of the framework. The full Research Library Impact Framework is available in this Google Sheet. (Note: to expand the full framework, download the Google Sheet as an Excel document.)

Contact Sue Baughman (sue@arl.org) with questions.

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This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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