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Research Library Impact Pilots

Research Library Impact Pilots can be a research project (a formal, original research study, facilitated by ARL and its members) or a practice brief (a short document designed to support practitioners with research-based information that improves library assessment work).

The Assessment Program Visioning 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 develop a Research Library Impact Framework that describes an agenda for the exploration of library services, operations, impact, and alignment with institutional mission and goals across four areas: Research & Scholarly Life Cycle; Teaching, Learning & Student Success; Collections; and Physical Space. The framework provides the scaffolding for deeper exploration across multiple library service areas and serves as the foundation for the Association’s research agenda.

Five research topics 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. All of these topics 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.

The five research topics are:

  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?

Teams from ARL libraries will work to quantify and qualify the answers to their research questions within one of the five research topics over the next year. Their research outputs will help ARL members communicate the impact and relevance of research libraries’ and archives’ activities in ways that resonates with budget holders and stakeholders.

For more information about the Research Library Impact 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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