The Value of Academic Libraries

A new report from the Association of College and Research Libraries seeks to help academic librarians do a better job of responding to the swelling tide of accountability. It reviews the research that has been done on how to measure libraries’ value. It offers a long list of next steps that librarians can take to demonstrate their institutional worth, and identifies a research agenda that focuses on specific areas in which more data would be useful to help libraries make the case for themselves. The report emphasizes the usefulness of collecting data on what specific groups of users get from the library, and spells out areas in which there is more room for libraries to make a campuswide impact. It includes a “value checklist” to help librarians plan their strategies. The phrase “collect data” turns up again and again: “Collect data demonstrating the library’s role in retaining students until graduation,” “Collect data demonstrating the library’s role in enriching faculty teaching,” and so on. Here is a link to the 172-page report. The executive summary alone is nine pages long.
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