Articles of the Week: Connect, Collaborate and Communicate: A Report from the Value of Academic Libraries Summits

Connect, Collaborate, and Communicate: A Report from the Value of Academic Libraries Summits

Earlier this week we reported on Jennifer Howard’s Chronicle of Higher Education post in which she covered a report on two recent ACRL sponsored summits on the value of academic libraries.

The report and the two summits are back in the news.   ACRL has released the full white paper for anyone who wants to read it in its entirety.  The paper was prepared by Karen Brown Associate Professor, Dominican University Graduate School of Library and Information Science and Kara J. Malenfant, a senior staff member at ACRL.  It is well worth reading.  The title alone makes obvious the relevance of their work.

According to an LJ article by Michael Kelly that appeared yesterday, the two summits and the resulting white paper are a response to the “intense pressure academic and research libraries are under to clearly align their priorities with the overarching institution’s goals and also to provide data-driven documentation of the library’s impact.”  Kelley goes on to say that Brown and Malenfant offer “five recommendations for librarians to help them demonstrate this value…”

Copying directly from the table of contents of the white paper the recommendations include:

  1. Increase librarians’ understanding of library value and impact in relation to various dimensions of student learning and success
  2. Articulate and promote the importance of assessment competencies necessary for documenting and communicating library impact on student learning and success.
  3. Create professional development opportunities for librarians to learn how to initiate and design assessment that demonstrates the library’s contribution to institutional mission and strategic goals.
  4. Expand partnerships for assessment activities with higher education constituent groups and related stakeholders.
  5. Integrate the use of existing ACRL resources with library value initiatives.

Each of these recommendations is then followed by a detailed list of action steps that libraries can take to further implementation.

According to Michael Kelley the goals of the report can be summarized as helping the library to see itself as “one constituent group among many” as well as  enabling it to “articulate its unique contribution to the institution’s goals in a compelling way.”  In addition, it lets libraries see that they “can benefit by partnering with other campus units and developing assessment activities in tandem with existing campus systems and data centers.”

In her post, Jennifer Howard adds support to this notion by quoting the report saying that “Academic librarians can serve as connectors and integrators, promoting a unified approach to assessment…  As a neutral and well-regarded place on campus, the academic library can help break down traditional institutional silos and foster increased communication across the institutional community.”

The report also does a nice job in offering an introductory background and in providing an overview of the summits and the questions that framed their discussions.   The essential need for accountability and assessment are highlighted, especially as it relates to student learning and success.

While secondary accounts like this and those by Michael Kelley and Jennifer Howard are very helpful, nothing substitutes for reading the full report so check it out.

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