Academic Library Impact: Improving Practice and Essential Areas to Research

by  Lynn Silipigni Connaway, William Harvey, Vanessa Kitzie, and Stephanie Mikitish

How well can academic library administrators and staff demonstrate that the academic library is useful to students? Do these administrators and staff have metrics that show how their programs, collections, and spaces impact student learning outcomes and institutional goals? Can they illustrate to provosts the library’s value to support increased spending?

Now more than ever, academic libraries are being asked to demonstrate value to their institutional stakeholders, funders, and governance boards. But because there is a lack of consensus on how to measure library value for student learning and success, these measures often are left to individual campus units to determine. This absence of consensus poses a difficulty for librarians, as they may need to serve several constituencies with very different goals, even at one institution. Across the entire educational landscape, there is even less agreement on how libraries might show substantial contributions to measures such as accreditation, student retention, and academic achievement.

This situation has led the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) to commission an “action-oriented” research agenda. The goal is to investigate how libraries can increase student learning and success while communicating their value to higher education stakeholders. 

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Suggested citation:

Association of College and Research Libraries. Academic Library Impact: Improving Practice and Essential Areas to Research. Prepared by Lynn Silipigni Connaway, William Harvey, Vanessa Kitzie, and Stephanie Mikitish of OCLC Research. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2017.