Academic Library Impact: Improving Practice and Essential Areas to Research

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Now more than ever, libraries in higher education must demonstrate their value. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has been at the forefront of supporting libraries as they demonstrate this value and recognizes that more research is needed to address an area critical to the higher education sector - institutional priorities for student learning and success. OCLC was selected to support this ongoing work after an open and competitive request for proposals issued by ACRL to investigate this area. The major outcomes of the project will aid librarians in communicating their value by focusing on both the current and potential future contributions of the library to student learning and success, with the overarching goals to:

  • depict current library value studies,
  • anticipate future work, research questions, and contributions to student learning and success, and
  • help academic librarians to effectively communicate their value with others in higher education.


Deliverables from the project include:

A report that:

  • identifies specific themes and trends related to the current state of library value studies and connects these themes and trends to student learning and success;
  • compiles a research agenda consisting of approximately 10 to 15 future-oriented, key, outstanding research questions that the literature and interview data suggest are essential for academic libraries to explore; and
  • defines the possible parameters for each question and explains related scholarly work in a way that is accessible to newer practitioner-scholars so they can articulate their research questions, design studies, and communicate results.

An interactive visualization dashboard that:

  • Allows researchers, practitioners, and students to search through the more than 500 documents analyzed in the report for attributes of interest related to communicating the impact of library collections, services, and spaces on student learning and success. Users can compile and share reference lists for further study and to aid their institutions’ efforts to communicate their own impact on learning and success.
  • Helps librarians and researchers visually explore the literature and other data in the form of charts and graphs, and helps them to communicate their value to constituencies by sharing these charts and graphs with stakeholders. Users can also import and visualize their own data related to their institutions’ work and its impact on student learning and success.

A book chapter Assessing for Alignment: How to Win Collaborators and Influence Stakeholders:

Mikitish, Stephanie, Vanessa Kitzie, and Lynn Silipigni Connaway. 2018. "Assessing for Alignment: How to Win Collaborators and Influence Stakeholders." In Shaping the Campus Conversation on Student Learning and Experience: Activating the Results of Assessment in Action, edited by Karen Brown, Debra Gilchrist, Sara Goek, Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Kara Malenfant, Chase Ollis, and Allison Payne, 213-222. Chicago: ACRL.

Much more detail about the project is available from the proposal to ACRL.


Academic library impact: Improving practice and essential areas to research.
Update on Value of Academic Libraries Initiative (ACRL) at the ALA Annual Conference
Chicago, Illinois
25 June 2017

Communicating library impact beyond library walls: Findings from an action-oriented research agenda.
ACRL Leadership Council at the ALA Annual Conference
Chicago, Illinois
23 June 2017

Demonstrating the value of academic libraries in times of uncertainty: A research agenda for student learning and success.
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong
7 April 2016

Demonstrating the Value of Academic Libraries in Times of Uncertainty: A Research Agenda for Student Learning and Success.
University of Macau
6 April 2017

Changing Tack: A Future-Focused ACRL Research Agenda
ACRL2017 Conference
Baltimore, MD
23 March 2017, 8-9 am

Where Are We Going and What Do We Do Next? Demonstrating the Value of Academic Libraries in Time of Uncertainty.
RLUK Conference 2017
London, United Kingdom
9 March 2017

Action-Oriented Research Agenda on Library Contributions to Student Learning and Success
Lynn Silipigni Connaway, William Harvey, Vanessa Kitzie, & Stephanie Mikitish
ALA Midwinter meeting
Atlanta, GA
Sunday, 22 January 2017, 1:00 PM - 2:30 pm.

What Do We Want to Know: Completing an Action-Oriented Research Agenda
2016 Library Assessment Conference
Arlington, Virginia
2 November 2016

The first Agenda draft was presented at the event: "Update on ACRL’s Action-Oriented Research Agenda," on Tuesday, 15 November 2016, from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Central time. This forum allowed community members to ask questions and give reactions to the first draft. (Watch the recording of this online session.)

In the News

Free, David. "ACRL Teams with OCLC Research for Research Agenda." College & Research Libraries News 77, no. 9 (2016): 428,

Project Timeline

Project Plan and Schedule

Project Lead:

Lynn Silipigni Connaway

Team Members