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Who We Are

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit membership organization of libraries and archives in major public and private universities, federal government agencies, and large public institutions in Canada and the US. We are a forum for the exchange of ideas and a catalyst for collective action to create, share, and sustain our global knowledge. We advocate on research libraries’ behalf, convene our research and higher education partners, share intelligence on current issues, and develop the next generation of diverse library leaders.

Why It Matters

This is a time of intense change in scholarship, teaching, and learning—indeed, in the very nature of information. In the midst of this volatility, it is clear that relevant and sustainable information, services, and supporting infrastructure are essential yet also in significant flux. Given this variability, meeting scholars’, teachers’, and learners’ information needs is only possible through collective initiatives.

As leading institutions attracting millions of users every year, ARL members are uniquely positioned to champion change by proactively addressing the information challenges and opportunities that are now before the research and learning community.

ARL’s Focal Point

With scholars and scholarship at the core of all we do, our Association makes the greatest difference at the intersection of three critical venues in the research and learning environment:

  • Research libraries and their parent organizations
  • Research and learning communities
  • Public policy makers

Vision Statement

In 2033, the research library will have shifted from its role as a knowledge service provider within the university to become a collaborative partner within a rich and diverse learning and research ecosystem.

This vision recognizes shifts that are occurring in the role of the research library between 2013 and 2033:

  • Within two decades, the research library will have transitioned its focus from its role as a knowledge service provider within a single university to become a collaborative partner within a broader ecosystem of higher education.
  • Research libraries will be even more intimately engaged in supporting the full life cycle and activity range of knowledge discovery, use, and preservation, as well as the curating and sharing of knowledge in diverse contexts of the university’s mission and of society more broadly.
  • ARL—the organization—will enable and catalyze research libraries to leverage and mobilize individual assets toward the collective advancement of learning, research, and societal impact.

Strategic Thinking and Design Initiative: Extended and Updated Report (Washington, DC: ARL, 2016), 19–20

Mission Statement

The Association of Research Libraries, the collective of research libraries in Canada and the US, advances 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.

—Approved by the ARL Board of Directors, March 2018

Guiding Principles

The Association values its member representatives and staff, views collaboration and diversity as essential to its success, exercises leadership within and beyond the library profession, provides learning opportunities and resources for member representatives and their staff, and operates responsibly and transparently. As such, ARL adheres to the following guiding principles:

  1. Participate in national and international conversations on policies, laws, and applications that champion intellectual freedom, privacy, confidentiality, research, and equitable access to information. Reflect global perspectives in the work of the Association.
  2. Maximize the ability of member libraries to leverage technology, innovation, responsiveness, and risk-taking.
  3. Collaborate with others in higher education and beyond to advance the development, expression, sharing, and preservation of knowledge. Focus on areas where collaboration pays the greatest dividends and prioritize efforts to avoid duplication or competition with other organizations.
  4. Promote a culture of assessment that informs evidence-based decision-making.
  5. Engage all member representatives in the work of the Association with respect, fairness, and integrity. Foster an environment of inclusion, equity, nondiscrimination, and pluralism.
  6. Embrace diversity in all its dimensions and promote it as a vital stimulant to ARL’s leadership and growth.
  7. Provide opportunities for leadership, professional development, and individual growth for member representatives and their respective workforces.
  8. Operate with goals, values, and processes that are responsive to members’ needs, well articulated, transparent, fiscally accountable, and broadly communicated.
  9. Develop and reward Association staff with competitive pay, encouragement, respect, a flexible and agile working environment, and opportunities for growth.

Code of Conduct

Included among ARL’s guiding principles is “Engage all member representatives in the work of the Association with respect, fairness, and integrity. Foster an environment of inclusion, equity, nondiscrimination, and pluralism.” This Code of Conduct is intended to articulate how the Association will adhere to that guiding principle.

ARL is committed to developing and maintaining a welcoming, inclusive, and respectful environment; one that will strengthen collaboration, promote intellectual freedom, and support honest discourse and debate. We ask that you listen as much as you speak; yield the floor to those whose viewpoints may be under-represented; use welcoming language; accept critique graciously and offer it constructively; give credit where it is due; and stay attuned to the welfare of those around you.

ARL does not tolerate personal attacks, harassment of any kind, or disruptive behaviors by participants in ARL conferences, events, meetings, and online forums. Anyone asked to stop these behaviors is expected to comply immediately. If you have been involved in or witnessed an incident that violates this Code of Conduct, please advise a member of the ARL staff or Board of Directors as soon as possible. ARL will address all reports with discretion and confidentiality, and will take actions it deems appropriate, including requesting that an offender leave an event if warranted, or seeking out trained professionals to assist in handling issues of harassment.​