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Who We Are

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit membership organization of research libraries and archives in major public and private universities, federal government agencies, and large public institutions in Canada and the US.

With scholars and scholarship at the core of all we do, our Association bridges policy and practice, contributing the greatest value 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

Below you’ll find these key organizational statements:


Vision Statement

The Association of Research Libraries creates a trusted, equitable, and inclusive research and learning ecosystem and prepares library leaders to advance this work in strategic partnership with member libraries and other organizations worldwide.

Mission Statement

The Association of Research Libraries empowers and advocates for research libraries and archives to shape, influence, and implement institutional, national, and international policy. We develop the next generation of leaders and enable strategic cooperation among partner institutions to benefit scholarship and society.

Guiding Principles

The Association values its member representatives and staff; views collaboration, diversity, and inclusion 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, social justice, and equitable access to information. Reflect global perspectives in the work of the Association.
  2. Collaborate with others in higher education and beyond to advance the inclusive 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.
  3. Advance inclusion, equity, and diversity as critical components of the research library’s mission and organizational development as well as vital aspects of ARL’s leadership, membership, and programs.
  4. Maximize the ability of member libraries to leverage technology, innovation, responsiveness, and risk-taking.
  5. Promote a culture of assessment that informs evidence-based decision-making.
  6. Engage all member representatives in the work of the Association with respect, fairness, and integrity. Foster an environment of inclusion, equity, nondiscrimination, and pluralism.
  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 the commitment to “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 underrepresented; 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 conferences, events, meetings, online forums, or any other activities under ARL’s aegis. Anyone asked to stop these behaviors is expected to comply immediately. If you have been involved in or witnessed an incident that potentially violates this Code of Conduct, please advise a designated ARL Ally, a member of the ARL Code of Conduct Committee (CCC), or a member of the ARL staff as soon as possible. ARL will address all reports with discretion and confidentiality as appropriate and will take actions it deems necessary, including warning the alleged offender, requesting that an offender leave an event, or seeking out trained professionals to assist in handling issues of harassment.

ARL Code of Conduct Policy and Protocol

Please complete this online form to submit a formal Code of Conduct violation report.

ARL’s 2023–2026 Action Plan

The Association’s 2023–2026 Action Plan states the priorities for the organization. There are five strategic goals, with goal statements and initiatives.

Advocate for an information policy environment in which research libraries advance the progress of knowledge

Goal Statement  Initiatives
Represent, empower and activate the research library community in advocacy for the creation and dissemination of knowledge
  • Inform and equip ARL members to engage in conversations and decisions with institutional leadership about key information policy issues, including accessibility, copyright and fair use, open internet, privacy, freedom of expression, and access to government information
  • Represent, engage, and activate ARL members in advocacy opportunities to influence information policy, such as responding to notices of inquiry and requests for information; signing on to letters by coalition partners; participating in advocacy days for library, education, and research funding; and meeting with law and policy makers.

Advocate for and equip research library and archives leaders as partners in advancing research and scholarship that is increasingly open and equitable.

Goal Statement Initiatives
Bridge research policy and practice through engagement with research partners, stakeholders, and decision makers, resulting in opportunities to collectively inform and shape the research and learning ecosystem
  • Partner with higher education, government agencies, and scholarly communities to build capacity for scholar-focused research services with a particular focus on research data, public impact and community-engaged scholarship, and information integrity.
  • Strengthen the university-based publishing ecosystem through collaboration with scholarly communities, with particular focus on the next phase of TOME and advancing shared interests of libraries and presses.
  • Provide member resources and programming on enduring and equitable access to ARL libraries’ rich and diverse research collections, with a focus on community-based archives and community engagement.

Demonstrate the value and contributions of research libraries and archives to their communities

Goal Statement Initiatives
Lead the development, implementation, and evaluation of the tools necessary to demonstrate what it means to be an inclusive, impactful, and effective research library and/or archive.
  • Complete the work of the ARL Statistics Revision Task Force to recommend changes to the ARL Statistics survey that would better reflect metrics that the ARL membership would like to collect and track.
  • Develop a post–Research Library Impact Framework strategy.

 

Implement a strategy for leadership and organizational development through programming and events that develop library deans, directors, and staff to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the significant changes underway in research, teaching, and learning.

Goal Statement Initiatives
Position research library dean/directors and their successors (associate/assistant level) as strategic leaders in the profession. Strengthen diverse and inclusive leadership practice throughout research libraries and archives.
  • Launch the Intensive Learning Program
  • Hold Learning and Development Events/Institutes (for Deans and Directors).
  • Evaluate and assess learning programs

 

Promote the creation of diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environments, services, and collections by member institutions.

Goal Statement Initiatives
Engage with members to realize sustainable and targeted change that addresses historical and contemporary inequities through intentional programs, frameworks, and partnerships; these efforts include advancing antiracist practices, increasing accessibility, and promoting the impactful and transformative work happening at and among member institutions.
  • Plan and hold IDEAL 2024
  • Develop and implement a member representative DEI learning engagement program
  • Develop recommendations for ARL for Indigenous Land Acknowledgements and the Acknowledgement of Enslaved Laborers and Labor
  • Complete planning for and pilot the ARL DEI Institute

 

The Association’s two ongoing commitments are to:

  • Create a welcoming and inclusive experience for all member representatives and library and archives staff participating in the Association, providing equitable opportunities to engage
  • Deepen and expand the understanding of the research library’s value with key stakeholders in the research and learning ecosystem through communication

Affiliates