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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 explores 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 in August 2018, based on extensive feedback from ARL library directors and assessment practitioners.

  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?

These five questions are 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.” External stakeholders include funders, partners, and collaborators. In university contexts this can include provosts, alumni, offices of research, faculty, local communities, etc.

Teams from ARL libraries were invited to develop 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 teams’ research outputs will help ARL members communicate the impact and relevance of research libraries’ and archives’ activities in ways that resonate with budget holders and stakeholders.

Each question lists the teams and the abstract of their project or the report about their project and findings.

All projects and activities are expected to be completed by June 30, 2022.
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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