SPEC surveys gather information from ARL member institutions on current research library practices and policies. SPEC Kits combine the survey results and documentation from ARL member institutions to guide libraries as they address the ever-changing challenges facing libraries. These guides help libraries learn about current practice in research libraries, implement new practices and technologies, manage change, and improve performance. SPEC Kits comprise four key elements:

  • Executive Summary of the survey results
  • Survey Questions and Responses
  • Representative Documents from the responding institutions
  • Selected Resources, including books, journal articles, and websites

Originally established as an information resource for ARL member libraries, the SPEC Kit series has grown to serve the needs of the library community worldwide.

SPEC Kits from 2006 to the present (SPEC Kit 292 --) are freely available in ARL Digital Publications. You may read the publication online, download a PDF of a section of a SPEC Kit, or download a complete SPEC Kit PDF.

Online versions of SPEC Kits from 1973 through 2005 (SPEC Kit 1 - 291) are available through the HathiTrust.

  • SPEC Kit 357: Libraries, Presses, and Publishing (November 2017)
    Keyword(s): research library; university press; library services; workforce; publishing

    This SPEC Kit gathers information on the breadth of practice taking place at the intersection of research libraries, presses, and publishing, and on the blurring of boundaries as libraries engage in publishing and press activities in new ways. It explores which activities are associated with library publishing, the level of library/publishing/press integration and collaboration with or creation of formal publishing/press operations, and the organizational structuring of these activities and programs. It includes examples of publishing service options, press staffing, publishing information for authors and editors, and publication lists.

  • SPEC Kit 356: Diversity and Inclusion (September 2017)
    Keyword(s): research library; minority librarians; staff development; workforce; diversity programs

    This SPEC Kit gathers information about current recruitment and retention strategies that aim to increase the number of minority librarians in research libraries, staff development programs that foster an inclusive workplace and climate, how diversity programs have changed, and how libraries assess these efforts. It includes examples of diversity goals, visions, and statements, committee charges, mentoring programs, research resources, and job descriptions.

  • SPEC Kit 355: Campus-wide Entrepreneurship (July 2017)
    Keyword(s): research library; library services; entrepreneurship

    This SPEC Kit gathers information about library services and resources, funding models, staffing and administrative support, assessment, and the unique challenges of supporting these programs. It includes examples of entrepreneurship programs, centers and incubators; and descriptions of library entrepreneurship resources and services, outreach and instruction materials, and jobs.

  • SPEC Kit 354: Data Curation (May 2017)
    Keyword(s): research library; library services; data repository; data deposit

    This SPEC Kit explores the infrastructure that ARL member institutions are using for data curation, which data curation services are offered, who may use them, which disciplines demand services most, library staffing levels, policies and workflows, and the challenges of supporting these activities. 

    It includes examples of data repository web pages, descriptions of services, infrastructure, workflows, metadata schemas, and policies, and job descriptions.

  • SPEC Kit 353: Funding Article Processing Charges (November 2016)
    Keyword(s): research library; library services; open access; APC; scholarly communication

    This SPEC Kit explores the strategies that ARL member institutions are using to address article processing charges (APCs)—including how the funds are established and how they are handled (e.g., policies, applications, budgets, administration, outreach activities, etc.), sources of funding, and whether and under what circumstances libraries are partnering with other units (or other libraries) to fund this aspect of open access.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of funding web pages, fund administration policies and procedures, promotional material, and job descriptions.

  • SPEC Kit 352: Collection Assessment
    Keyword(s): research libraries; assessment; research collections; data analysis

    This SPEC Kit explores which collection assessment methods, measures, and practices ARL member libraries currently employ. This study gathered information on which library staff collect and analyze data, for what purposes the results are used, with whom data is shared, how well assessment questions are answered. The survey also investigated whether the available methods, data, and tools are aligned with the purposes for assessing collections.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of job descriptions of library staff who are responsible for collection assessment, data collection and analysis policies and procedures, and examples of how collection data is used and shared with a range of constituents.

  • SPEC Kit 351: Affordable Course Content and Open Educational Resources (July 2016)
    Keyword(s): research libraries; library services; OER; open access; faculty incentive programs

    This SPEC Kit explores the degree to which ARL member institutions advocate, support, and develop affordable course content and open educational resources (ACC/OER). This study gathered information on ACC/OER initiatives at the institutional level and the role of the library in these initiatives. The research examined initiatives’ origins, implementation, governance, and funding; incentives for faculty participation; and the types of affordable/open course content that have been developed. The survey also explored library support of ACC/OER activities with staffing and services.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of library and institution ACC/OER webpages; educational events; incentive programs; resources adopted, adapted, or created; and job descriptions.

  • SPEC Kit 350: Supporting Digital Scholarship (May 2016)
    Keyword(s): digital scholarship; digital humanities; research libraries; library services; workforce

    This SPEC Kit explores how library roles are evolving as multimodal and collaborative scholarship become more visible in the research landscape and how the emergence of these newly identified roles influence the work of library staff. This study covers the types of support libraries offer researchers, how the individuals involved in digital scholarship activities are positioned within the library organization, their range of responsibilities, collaboration with partners inside and outside the library, how support for digital scholarship activities is funded, and how it is assessed, among other questions.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of digital scholarship services offered by libraries, digital projects, project planning documents, organization charts, and job descriptions of the staff who provide digital scholarship support.

  • SPEC Kit 349: Evolution of Library Liaisons (November 2015)
    Keyword(s): research library; liaison; campus engagement; library services; workforce

    This SPEC Kit explores the changing role of the library liaison, the shifting goals and strategies of liaison programs at ARL member libraries, and the factors that influence these changes on an institutional level. This study covers liaison services objectives and policies, assignment of liaison responsibilities, level of department participation, administration and evaluation of services, how liaisons are trained, and the benefits and challenges of offering such services.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of liaison services websites; descriptions of liaison responsibilities, competencies, and goals; job descriptions of staff who provide these services; and reports on changes to liaison models.

  • SPEC Kit 348: Rapid Fabrication/Makerspace Services (September 2015)
    Keyword(s): research library; 3-D printing; rapid fabrication; makerspace; library services

    This SPEC Kit explores current ARL member library engagement with 3-D printing, rapid fabrication and digitization technologies, and makerspaces. This study covers the types of service offerings libraries provide, the location of these services, the hardware and software that is available for users, service hours and staffing, user outreach and training, budget and funding, and evaluation of the service.

    This SPEC Kit includes descriptions of makerspaces, examples of 3-D printing guides and other user training material, policies and procedures, equipment, software, and models, and job descriptions of staff who provide these services.

  • SPEC Kit 347: Community-based Collections (July 2015)
    Keyword(s): research library; collection development; special collections; collective collections community engagement

    This SPEC Kit explores collections that have been amassed not by one individual but by a collective, which may take the form of a museum, ethnic or cultural organization, or other diaspora group active in the documentation of its past. In addition to more traditional roles such as caring for the physical collection, in working with community-based collections libraries are navigating new territory with the integration and stewardship of these active and directly connected communities. An ongoing commitment to community engagement—with some level of shared governance or other collaborative activity to build, process, or publicize the collection—is often a key part of acquiring community-based collections. This study covers library activities that support community groups in the collection, documentation, and stewardship of their shared heritage, including public outreach and educational initiatives relating to the collection.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of collection descriptions, finding aids, community stewardship support structures, donor support opportunities, and job descriptions.

  • SPEC Kit 346: Scholarly Output Assessment Activities (May 2015)
    Keyword(s): research library; digital repository; assessment; scholarly publishing; research output

    This SPEC Kit explores current ARL member library activities that help authors manage their scholarly identities, provide options for creating and disseminating scholarly outputs, offer strategies to enhance discoverability of scholarly outputs, help authors efficiently track scholarly outputs and impact, provide resources and tools to help authors assess their scholarly impact, create publication reports and social network maps for reporting purposes, and offer guidance and training on new trends and tools for reporting of impact. This study covers library assessment services and resources, training, staffing models, partnerships with the parent institution, marketing and publicity, and future trends.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of training materials, job descriptions, descriptions of assessment services, examples of assessment reports, and research guides on scholarly output metrics.

  • SPEC Kit 345: Shared Print Programs (December 2014)
    Keyword(s): research library; print repository; print archive; print stewardship; collection management

    This SPEC Kit explores the extent of ARL member libraries’ participation in shared print programs, the type and scope of programs in which they choose to participate, the rationale for participation, the value and benefits the programs provide to ARL and other libraries, and the roles different libraries are playing in them. To best explore these aspects, this study includes two surveys:

    Survey of ARL Member Libraries. ARL libraries were asked general questions about all shared print programs in which the institution participates, goals and benefits of participation, rationale for participation, and services provided. This survey did not ask about the details of a single, specific shared print program but rather about a library’s participation in shared print arrangements in general.

    Survey of Shared Print Program Managers/Coordinators. Information about a specific shared print program was gathered from shared print program managers/coordinators. This survey asked about specific business and operational models, strategies, goals, membership, collections, archiving progress, access, and other services.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of program descriptions and memorandums of understand and member agreements.

  • SPEC Kit 344: Talent Management (November 2014)
    Keyword(s): research library; workforce planning; recruitment; retention; performance assessment

    This SPEC Kit explores whether ARL member libraries are using talent management strategies in the recruitment, retention, and development of a workforce needed to support the transformation of academic and research libraries. This SPEC Kit investigates the following areas related to talent management: talent strategy, recruitment and hiring, retention, employee engagement, job classification management, compensation management, performance assessment, competencies, professional development planning, and leadership and succession planning. This study includes information about all library employees except student (undergraduate or graduate), temporary, seasonal, or contract employees.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of competency models, staff development plans, and performance assessment processes.

  • SPEC Kit 343: Library Support for Faculty/Researcher Publishing (October 2014)
    Keyword(s): research library%3B scholarly publishing%3B library services%3B scholarly communication

    By actively participating in the research and writing process, librarians can use their subject expertise to develop new roles for themselves and devise new modes of contributing to the scholarly communication cycle. This SPEC Kit explores ARL member libraries’ activities related to support of faculty and researcher publishing of scholarly works. It investigates the level and variety of services ARL libraries are providing to support, facilitate, and participate in the publishing activities of the faculty and researchers they serve, whether through the re-framing of existing traditional library services or the development of new services.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of publishing services offered by libraries, events that showcase faculty research and promote authors, author’s rights information, library support for repository deposits and public access policy compliance, author addenda, open access policies, and job descriptions.

  • SPEC Kit 342: Next-Gen Learning Spaces (September 2014)
    Keyword(s): research library%3B library space%3B instruction%3B programming%3B assessment

    This SPEC Kit explores the configuration and uses of library learning spaces, the developments and transformations that have occurred over the past ten years, and future plans for learning spaces to determine where they are on a continuum between first-gen information commons and next-gen spaces. It explores five main areas related to learning spaces: what kinds of learning spaces currently exist, how these spaces have changed since their inception, and the effects these spaces have had on other library operations; the instruction, programming, and collaboration that take place in the learning spaces; and the current assessment methods for learning spaces and changes that have been made or are planned based on the results of these evaluations.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of learning spaces, instruction spaces, floor plans and maps, marketing for spaces, programs, and instruction, space use policies and procedures, job descriptions and organization charts, and planning and assessment documents.

  • SPEC Kit 341: Digital Collections Assessment and Outreach (August 2014)
    Keyword(s): research library%3B digital collections%3B assessment%3B outreach%3B collection management

    This SPEC Kit investigates what methods ARL member libraries use to maintain the relevancy of their locally curated digital library collections, and to continue to sustain, grow, capture return on investment, and enhance existing resources through outreach and assessment. The survey also explores current practices for integrating digital resources into the research, teaching, and learning environment.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of digital project selection criteria, outreach and assessment guides, assessment reports, marketing plans, lesson plans, job descriptions, and works created with material from digital collections.

  • SPEC Kit 340: Open Source Software (July 2014)
    Keyword(s): research library%3B open source software%3B software development%3B library information technology%3B collaboration

    This SPEC Kit investigated ARL member libraries’ adoption and/or development of open source software (OSS) for functions such as ILS, discovery layer, electronic resource management, inter-library loan, digital asset management, institutional repository, course reserve, streaming media, study room scheduler, digital preservation, publishing, floor maps, data warehouse, or other library-related purposes. It explored research libraries’ policies and practices on open sourcing their code; the frequency with which research libraries contribute to open source projects; whether research libraries are reluctant to make their code openly available; and the most common benefits and challenges encountered when research libraries open source their code.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of OSS contributor agreements, licenses, copyright notices, job descriptions, and organization charts.

  • SPEC Kit 339: Innovation and R&D (December 2013)
    Keyword(s): research library%3B innovation%3B research and development%3B process improvement%3B experimentation%3B transformation%3B strategic operations%3B futurecasting%3B planning

    This SPEC Kit investigates the current state of both innovation and R&D in research library organizations. It examines what outward-facing commitments libraries have made to innovation and R&D, and what foundations are in place to support these activities. It asked who is involved in innovative activities, how libraries organize themselves to create, support, and sustain innovation, and how they measure the resulting outcomes. It also collected data on which research libraries support R&D, at what level, for what purposes, and how these activities are organized, funded, and assessed.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of strategic plans and other documents that describe library support for innovation and research and development activities, organization charts, descriptions of research awards, and job descriptions of staff responsible for innovation and R&D.

  • SPEC Kit 338: Library Management of Disciplinary Repositories (November 2013)
    Keyword(s): disciplinary repository%3B repository policies%3B repository management

    This SPEC Kit examines the ways in which research libraries are involved in the administration of disciplinary repositories. It explores the disciplinary scope of the repository, collection policies, funding models, assessment practices, and staffing, among other information. It presents case studies of 12 disciplinary repositories that are managed entirely or in part by a library and includes examples of web pages for each one that describe the repository content, features, policies, organizational structure, and how to submit resources.

  • SPEC Kit 337: Print Retention Decision Making (October 2013)
    Keyword(s): print collection management%3B last copy agreement%3B on-site shelving%3B off-site shelving%3B collaborative shelving%3B deaccessioning

    This SPEC Kit examines research libraries’ print retention decision making strategies related to storage of materials in three different types of facilities or circumstances: on-site, staff-only shelving; remote shelving; and collaborative retention agreements. The survey also examined the decision making and practices surrounding the deaccession of library material. For each retention or deaccession strategy, the survey includes questions on the on-going or project-based nature of the work, the involvement of stakeholders, the selection process and criteria for materials to be retained or deaccessioned, the communication strategy with internal and external audiences, and the responses from the libraries’ internal and external audiences to these endeavors.

    The SPEC Kit includes examples of collection management policies, on-site, off-site, and collaborative shelving strategies, last copy agreements, and procedures for retrieving materials from storage.

  • SPEC Kit 336: Responsible Conduct of Research Training (September 2013)
    Keyword(s): RCR%3B academic integrity%3B plagiarism%3B citation management%3B data management

    This SPEC Kit explores research libraries’ participation in institutional efforts to train faculty, staff, students, and other researchers in the principles of responsible conduct of research (RCR) and ethical research practices. The survey includes questions on the institution’s training activities, on training roles currently undertaken by librarians, and on librarians’ willingness to expand instruction into the arena of responsible conduct of research.

    The SPEC Kit includes examples of RCR websites, citation management guides, and RCR workshop and tutorial materials, and information about academic integrity and plagiarism, using copyrighted materials, data management, and research animal welfare.

  • SPEC Kit 335: Digital Image Collections and Services (August 2013)
    Keyword(s): digital images%3B image collections%3B library services%3B digital asset management

    This SPEC Kit examines how research libraries and their parent institutions have responded to the transition from analog to digital images and the growth of digital images available from commercial vendors and/or created within institutions or their libraries. The survey gathers information about current practices relating to the development and management of institutional digital image collections and the acquisition and use of licensed image databases. It explores the infrastructure and support provided by research libraries and/or their institutions for the creation and use of digital images in teaching, learning, and research, including systems and platforms, cataloging and metadata, access and training, services and service points, and copyright and other rights issues. It also identifies collaborative strategies among ARL member institutions for providing digital images.

    The SPEC Kit includes examples of digital image collection websites, finding aids, image use training materials, copyright and use rights policies, selection policies, descriptions of digital image service points, and digital collection promotional materials.

  • SPEC Kit 334: Research Data Management Services (July 2013)

    This SPEC Kit surveys ARL member libraries on their activities related to access, management, and archiving of research data at their institutions. The survey explores the organization of research data management services (including a few questions on broader data support services), how they are staffed and funded, and what services they offer and to whom, among other questions.  
    The SPEC Kit includes examples of research data policies, data retention policies, data management plan tools, job descriptions, data needs assessment tools, data archive web pages, and staff resources.

  • SPEC Kit 333: Art & Artifact Management (December 2012)

    This SPEC Kit explores the scale and scope of art and artifact materials held by ARL member libraries, which tools and techniques they currently use to manage these collections, including those used by library staff only and those used to make information about these collections available to the public, and if there is evidence of a convergence of library, archive, and museum practices in the management of these collections.

    It includes collection development policies, guidelines for arranging materials, and examples of how art and artifact collections are described.

  • SPEC Kit 332: Organization of Scholarly Communication Services (November 2012)

    This SPEC Kit explores how research institutions are currently organizing staff to support scholarly communication services, and whether their organizational structures have changed since 2007, when member libraries were surveyed about their scholarly communication education initiatives. It covers who leads scholarly communication efforts inside and outside the library, the scholarly communication related services that are offered to researchers, and which staff support those services. It also looks at how the library measures the success of its scholarly communication services, including demonstrable outcomes of these services.

    It includes position descriptions for library leaders of scholarly communication efforts, charges for SC committees, organization charts, descriptions of SC services, assessment tools, open access policies, and SC resolutions

  • SPEC Kit 331: Changing Role of Senior Administrators (October 2012)

    This SPEC Kit focuses on the professional, administrative, and management positions that report directly to the library director (or in some ARL member libraries the position that serves as the representative to the association), positions that have not been examined by a SPEC survey since 1984. It explores the responsibilities of these positions, and the skills, qualifications, and competencies necessary for these administrators to successfully lead a transforming 21st century research library. It looks at whether and how position requirements have changed in the past five years, whether the number of direct reports has changed, whether these administrators have assumed new areas of organizational responsibility, and how they acquire the new skills to fulfill those responsibilities.

    The SPEC Kit includes documents that compare organization charts and position descriptions from 2007 and 2012.

  • SPEC Kit 330: Library Contribution to Accreditation (September 2012)

    This SPEC Kit explores the scope of accreditation standards,the data provided by research libraries to meet the requirements of accrediting bodies, and which library staff participate in preparing reports and site visits. The survey results may help libraries identify and understand what standards exist, and how their contributions lead to successful accreditation and reaccreditation for their parent institutions. Additionally, this survey sought to identify how deeply ARL libraries are involved in the accreditation process at the institutional level. As libraries strive to establish their impact and value in higher education, this measure is one way to gauge how institutional leaders perceive their libraries’ contributions.

    This SPEC Kit includes examples of programmatic and regional accrediting agency reports from respondents and descriptions of the accreditation process.

  • SPEC Kit 329: Managing Born-Digital Special Collections and Archival Materials (August 2012)

    This SPEC Kit explores the tools, workflow, and policies special collections and archives staff use to process, manage, and provide access to born-digital materials they collect. It also looks at which staff process and manage born-digital materials and how they acquire the skills they need for these activities, and how libraries have responded to the challenges that managing born-digital materials present.

    The management of born-digital materials is still relatively new for ARL libraries, and the survey results show that good practices and workflows are still evolving. New tools are emerging rapidly, and the once solid line between digitized content and born-digital content is beginning to blur. Survey responses indicated that the library and archives profession lacks a common definition of what born-digital content is and a common understanding of who within the organization should manage this content.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents that describe digital specialists’ job responsibilities, collection policies, gift/purchase agreements, format policies, and workflows.

  • SPEC Kit 328: Collaborative Teaching and Learning Tools (July 2012)

    This SPEC Kit gathers information about what collaborative teaching and learning tools are currently being offered to users in ARL member libraries. It covers questions on which kinds of tools are offered, how many, and why, where they are located, who may use them, the sources of funding, who provides training and support, and what techniques are used to promote and evaluate the tools. For the purpose of this survey, “collaborative teaching and learning tools” are limited to the equipment, devices, or systems being offered to research library users in a self-service environment including, but not limited to, the following: interactive whiteboards (IWBs, e.g., SMART Board), touchscreen tablet computers (e.g., iPads), classroom/audience response system (e.g., clickers), interactive learning centers (e.g., TouchTables), and Wii gaming systems.

    Results and documentation from this survey demonstrate that a variety of collaborative equipment, devices, or systems are available or soon will be available to research library users. Respondents report that offering these tools enhances the users’ learning experiences in and out of the library and also provides improved patron services.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents that describe available equipment and services, loan policies, instructions for using equipment, and materials promoting the services.

  • SPEC Kit 327: Reconfiguring Service Delivery (December 2011)

    This SPEC Kit investigates whether and how ARL member libraries have reconfigured staffed service delivery points in the main library and in any branches that report to the main library. It explores whether service points and/or branches have been added, closed, or consolidated; the drivers for those decisions; the impacts on staff; the changes in delivery methods; and whether there have been any collaborations with other institutions or consortia, or outsourcing of service delivery. It also explores user involvement in the planning for service changes and whether the effectiveness of new service configurations has been assessed.

    The survey used a case study approach to reveal developing patterns, unique applications, and anticipated changes in the physical or organizational arrangement of service delivery that may be widely adaptable in other libraries so that they can continue to be the primary information providers for their constituents.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents that describes the service philosophy, services offered, planning process, and communications about service changes. Also included are floorplans and images of redesigned spaces.

  • SPEC Kit 326: Digital Humanities (November 2011)

    This SPEC Kit provides a snapshot of research library experiences with digital scholarship centers or services that support the humanities (e.g., history, art, music, film, literature, philosophy, religion, etc.) and the benefits and challenges of hosting them. The survey asked ARL libraries about the organization of these services, how they are staffed and funded, what services they offer and to whom, what technical infrastructure is provided, whether the library manages or archives the digital resources produced, and how services are assessed, among other questions.

    This survey revealed that library-based support for the digital humanities is offered predominantly on an ad hoc basis. However, as demand for services supporting the digital humanities has grown, libraries have begun to re-evaluate their provisional service and staffing models. Many respondents expressed a desire to implement practices, policies, and procedures that would allow them to cope with increases in demand for services.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents that describes the mission or purpose of digital humanities centers, the services offered, policies and procedures, examples of digital projects, fellowship and grant opportunities, promotional materials, and repositories for digital projects.

  • SPEC Kit 325: Digital Preservation (October 2011)

    This SPEC Kit explores the strategies that ARL member institutions use to protect evolving research collections and the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders. The survey asked ARL libraries about their digital content, their strategies for preserving that content, and the staff, time, and funding they currently devote to digital preservation. It also asked each responding library to compare its digital preservation activities of three years ago to current activities and project three years into the future. In addition, to better understand the roles of research libraries in the emergent field of digital curation, the survey sought to identify issues that are and are not being addressed through current practices and policies.

    This survey revealed, as the digital preservation field is maturing, that most ARL libraries are rising to the challenge of establishing policies, workflows, and infrastructures to systematically preserve their rapidly expanding bodies of digital content. The survey also revealed that most ARL libraries are actively engaging in in-house digital preservation rather than outsourcing it to external parties, thus maintaining their control and ownership over the digital content that they curate.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents that describes policies, procedures, and guidelines for digital preservation, cooperative agreements, job descriptions, and data management services.

  • SPEC Kit 324: Collecting Global Resources (September 2011)

    This SPEC Kit explores the trends, practices, and challenges in collecting global resources in North American research libraries at a time of political and economic change, on the one hand, and of significant change in scholarly communication and collection management strategies, on the other. It covers global resources collections (including an overview of expenditures, collecting trends, sources of funding, and acquisition strategies), staff and organizational structure, preservation strategies, and discovery, public service, and outreach.

    The survey results clearly demonstrate that support for global resources in North American research libraries is strong and predicted to remain so in the foreseeable future. Budget and space challenges, as well as increasing electronic access to resources with resulting changes in research habits of students and faculty, will create new and different patterns in collection growth. In response, many ARL libraries either already have or are in the process of creating organizational structures that facilitate intense outreach activities, in-depth reference, and collaborative collection development.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents that describes print and digital global collections, collection development policies, examples of research guides, and organization charts.

  • SPEC Kit 323: Socializing New Hires (August 2011)

    This SPEC Kit investigates the progress made in ARL member organizations to establish or enhance socialization programs and activities (such as orientation programs, mentoring, residency appointments, and staff development sessions directed at organizational acculturation) for all newly hired, paid employees. It explores the availability and types of programs, activities, and resources currently offered in ARL institutions; staff involved in designing and coordinating socialization programs and activities; goals and budget for socialization programs; length of participation in programs and activities; evaluation and assessment of programs; and benefits of socialization programs, activities and resources.

    The survey results clearly demonstrate that socialization activities are widespread and growing in research libraries and archives. The volume of response and detailed sample documents provided are indicative of the prevalence of existing activities and institutional commitment to these programs. There is a perception of the critical importance and value of these activities to the enhancement of organizational success. The plethora of comments on the benefits of socialization programs indicates that ARL members highly value these efforts.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents that describes orientation, mentoring, and peer socialization programs, and provides examples of orientation websites, orientation/socialization checklists, program evaluation methods, and staff development resources.

  • SPEC Kit 322: Library User Experience (July 2011)

    This SPEC Kit explores recent and planned user experience activities at ARL member libraries and the impact these efforts have on helping the libraries transform to meet evolving user needs. The survey elicited examples of successful user experience activities to serve as benchmarks for libraries looking to create or expand efforts in this area. It also explored whether libraries have created positions or entire departments focused on user engagement and the user experience.

    The survey results revealed that nearly all of the responding ARL member institutions are employing a form of user engagement, whether or not they refer to it as user experience. While there appears to be a lack of common vocabulary or program standardization, there is a growing awareness of the need to assess libraries from the user perspective—with new positions and even departments created to accomplish this goal. Overall, respondents feel that efforts made in assessing the user experience are well spent. They articulated numerous projects that resulted in major program updates and facility revisions and that were well received by library administration, governing/funding boards, and most importantly, by library users.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents that describe user experience planning and organization, specific projects, how volunteers are recruited, the role of advisory boards, and job requirements for user experience coordinators, among others.

  • SPEC Kit 321: Services for Users with Disabilities (December 2010)

    This SPEC Kit explores what services are being provided and how users are made aware of them; what assistive technologies are being offered today and who maintains them; which library staff have responsibility for providing services and how are they trained; and what service policies and procedures are in place for users with disabilities.

    The survey results indicate that all staff who work on a public services desk are responsible for assisting users with disabilities, or at least making a proper referral. Services range from retrieving library materials from the stacks, to assistance searching online resources, to assistance with adaptive technology. Workstations with adaptive technology are common, either in public spaces or special rooms. The most commonly available special software is for text magnification. Scanners are the most commonly available hardware.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents that describe the services offered, the assistive technology that is available, service policies, user needs assessment, staff training materials, and job requirements for service coordinators.

  • SPEC Kit 320: Core Benefits (November 2010)

    This SPEC Kit explores the core employment benefits of retirement, and life, health, and other insurance —benefits that are typically decided by the parent institution and often have significant governmental regulation.

    The survey results help identify the range of retirement and insurance benefits offered to research library employees and the variety in plan designs for each benefit. They confirm that retirement, health insurance, and life insurance are universally available and access is generally gained by employees working a .50 FTE assignment. Insurance benefits are commonly available to their family members, too, often including both same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents that describe the benefits offered to library staff, provide details about retirement plans and life and health insurance options, and describe job requirements for staff who administer benefits programs.

  • SPEC Kit 319: Diversity Plans and Programs (October 2010)

    This SPEC Kit explores what progress has been made in ARL member libraries to recruit and retain a diverse workforce; the strategies they use to increase the number of ethnically/culturally diverse librarians in the profession and in their libraries; the elements of programs that successfully support an inclusive workplace; the people, groups, and/or committees responsible for overseeing the programs; and how libraries are assessing the effectiveness and success of such programs.

    The survey results indicate there has been a significant increase in the number of groups and committees formed to address diversity or inclusive workplace goals in the past ten years. Human resource officers share the responsibility of leading these committees and implementing diversity plans with diversity officers, staff development officers, multicultural librarians, and other library staff. Approximately half of the responding libraries have ongoing presentations and/or workshops on issues relevant to promoting an inclusive workplace. Others have had at least one-time presentations or plan to develop programs.

    Recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce continues to be a challenge for libraries. It is evident that research libraries are committed to actively recruit librarians from underrepresented ethnic/racial groups and have employed a variety of strategies to increase the diversity of applicant pools. Measures to evaluate the success of their efforts to recruit and retain an ethnically/culturally diverse workforce are still in development, though.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of diversity statements, diversity plans, and descriptions of diversity and recruitment programs.

  • SPEC Kit 318: Impact Measures in Research Libraries (September 2010)

    This SPEC Kit explores the tools and methods libraries use to gauge the difference they make for their user community, the topics assessment practitioners probe and the results they obtain, the effects of impact assessment, and whether institutions that publicize positive impact evidence see a difference in the level of financial or political support from their parent institutions.

    The survey asked ARL member libraries whether they have investigated five major areas of possible library impact: correlations between measures of library use and student success pre- or post graduation; correlations between participation in library instruction and information literacy skills; correlations between measures of library use and research output; attempts to calculate how much financial value the library contributes to the parent institution or user community; and any other areas of library impact. Within each of these five areas, the survey asked which measures were correlated, which methods were used to collect data, what conclusions were drawn, who instigated the study, whether the study was one-time or ongoing, whether the results were shared outside the library, and whether the results were used to influence decisions at the library or parent institution.

    By the March deadline, responses had been submitted by 55 of the 124 ARL member libraries for a response rate of 44%. Nineteen respondents (34%) report having conducted a study in one or more of the five impact areas and 13 others (24%) are planning to conduct studies. Relatively speaking, library instruction is the area that has seen the most impact assessment activities; 15 respondents (27%) have studied this area and 12 others (22%) have plans to. Each of the other areas has been studied by between one and five libraries; between three and nine other libraries plan to conduct studies in the next 12 months. The remaining 23 respondents (42%) report their library has not and has no plans to study impact measures.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of impact assessment goals, user surveys, and calculations of library value.

  • SPEC Kit 317: Special Collections Engagement (August 2010)

    This SPEC Kit examines exhibits, events, instruction, and other activities that are targeted to engage students, faculty, and other scholars/researchers with special collections for research and education. It investigates who coordinates these activities, where they are held, how they are promoted, and how they are evaluated.

    By the March deadline, responses had been submitted by 79 of the 124 ARL member libraries for a response rate of 64%. A genuine commitment to outreach activities in special collections is evident throughout the responses to this survey. Over 95% of respondents are staging exhibits, holding events, and engaging students and faculty in the use of collections; most institutions are participating in all of these activities, as well as in many others not specifically addressed in the survey. At the heart of all outreach activities are the collections. Libraries are going to great lengths to promote their unique and specialized collection strengths, employing many creative outreach and engagement approaches. While the traditional methods of exhibits, events, and curricular instruction continue to be the emphasis of special collections’ outreach programs, institutions are also embracing opportunities to be active physically beyond the borders of their campuses and virtually through blogs, social networking sites, and other Web 2.0 technologies.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of policies and procedures, class request procedures, descriptions of class assignments and resources, job descriptions, and exhibit and event promotional methods.

  • SPEC Kit 316: Evaluating E-resources (July 2010)

    This SPEC Kit re-examines the ways in which ARL member libraries have (re)structured themselves to identify the availability of new e-resources in the market; evaluate them as candidates for acquisition; decide to acquire/purchase the e-resources; evaluate them prior to their renewal to determine their continued utility; and publicize or market the new e-resources. Nearly identical questions were posed regarding purchases/licensing by consortia and by individual libraries, enabling comparisons in process to be made.

    By the March deadline, responses had been submitted by 73 of the 124 ARL member libraries for a response rate of 59%. The survey results indicated that both consortia and libraries deploy large amounts of staff resources to build e-resource collections and that identification and assessment activities are conducted as communal activities among consortia staff and librarians from across the organization..

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of e-resource selection policies, e-resource request and evaluation procedures, descriptions of library and consortia e-resource selectors, job descriptions, and promotional methods.

  • SPEC Kit 315: Leave and Professional Development Benefits (December 2009)

    This SPEC Kit investigates two broad categories of benefit plans currently offered to professional library staff at ARL member libraries: leave time and support for professional development activities. Topics include benefits eligibility; holiday and intersession leave; plan designs and accrual rates for paid time off (PTO), vacation, and sick leave; and professional development leaves such as dedicated research time and sabbaticals. Other professional development topics include financial support and relief from duties for conference attendance; funding for professional association memberships; and financial and other support for college credit course work, internships, and certifications.

    By the August deadline, responses had been submitted by 73 of the 123 ARL member libraries for a response rate of 59%. The survey results indicated there is considerable variation in the leave programs at ARL member libraries. Relatively few use a Paid Time Off leave program or offer intersession leave. While there is a wide variation in leave balance and cash out policies, the total paid time off for librarians is considerable.

    There is also considerable support for research and professional development activities, though programs for supporting professional development show wide variation in design and procedures. While relatively few libraries provide a regularly scheduled percentage of assignment time off, most offer some options for time away for research and professional development activities.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of policies on travel support, professional development leave and funding, sabbaticals, education, and tuition assistance and an example of an individual development award program.

  • SPEC Kit 314: Processing Decisions for Manuscripts & Archives (November 2009)

    This SPEC Kit examines the current policies and practices for processing manuscript and archival collections in Special Collections.   It is organized around four general areas: personnel, job responsibilities and training; processing policies, procedures, and priorities; impacts on processing decisions; and management tools.

    By the May deadline, responses had been submitted by 76 of the 123 ARL member libraries for a response rate of 62%. Half of the responding institutions have a combined special collections/archives department and all but a few of these process all types of rare books, rare serials, manuscripts, and archival materials. Twenty-seven respondents (36%) indicated that the cataloging of rare books and rare serials was done in another department or unit within the library, usually cataloging or technical services.   Only five respondents indicated that manuscripts and archival materials were processed outside of special collections/archives.

    The survey responses speak to the classic issues of the management of processing: how to process collections efficiently but yet adequately so that collections are usable with minimal meditation; how to balance demands for more description and item-level cataloging (digitization) with initiatives to make more collections available (“more product, less processing”); and how to manage staff effectively and to assess processing progress.   From the survey results it is clear that the respondents agree on core principles for processing (such as what is fully processed collection, what makes a good processor, and the challenges facing processors), but in practice the application of these principles are tempered by institutional practices, traditions, and resources.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of processing policies and procedures, processing worksheets, statistics, and job descriptions.

  • SPEC Kit 313: E-book Collections (October 2009)

    This SPEC Kit examines the current use of e-books in ARL member libraries; their plans for implementing, increasing, or decreasing access to e-books; purchasing, cataloging, and collection management issues; and issues in marketing to and in usage by library clientele.

    By the May deadline, responses had been submitted by 75 of the 123 ARL member libraries for a response rate of 61%. Of the responding libraries, 73 (97%) reported including e-books in their collections. According to survey responses, most institutions entered the e-book arena as part of a consortium which purchased an e-book package. The earliest forays occurred in the 1990s but the majority of libraries started e-book collections between 1999 and 2004. Purchasing at the collection level allowed libraries to acquire a mass of titles with a common interface, reducing some of the transition pains to the new format. The downside of collections is that libraries find they are often saddled with titles they would not have selected in print; also, each collection might have a different interface, adding to user frustration.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of collection development policies, e-book collection Web pages, e-book promotional materials, training materials for staff and users, and e-book reader loan policies.

  • SPEC Kit 312: Public Engagement (September 2009)

    This SPEC Kit explores the ways in which traditional “outreach” programs in academic libraries are evolving to address the emergent concept of “public engagement” at the institutional level and the degree to which the library is integrated into campus-level efforts to promote public engagement.

    By the March deadline, responses had been submitted by 56 of 123 ARL member libraries for a response rate of 46%. For the purposes of this survey, respondents were asked to report on “public engagement programs” that met the definition of those that demonstrate the library’s “commitment to community partnerships, service to professional communities outside [your] primary user groups . . . . [and that] go beyond the ‘provision of institutional resources for community use,’ and are aimed at bringing the professional expertise of the library to members of the public.” Of the 56 responding libraries, 49 (88%) reported providing such programs as part of their service profile.

    Respondents identified a wide variety of programs that they characterize as “public engagement.” The top four areas of library activity reported were programs in the areas of K-12 education (80%), cultural engagement (75%), government information/e-government (68%), and lifelong learning (66%).

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of mission statements, descriptions of library engagement programs, examples of awards program, scholarship of engagement information, and job descriptions.

  • SPEC Kit 311: Public Access Policies (August 2009)

    This SPEC Kit explores the role ARL member libraries are playing in supporting public access policies in their institutions.

    The survey was distributed to the 123 ARL member libraries in February 2009. Respondents were asked to provide information on staffing, partnerships, and resources and services developed for public access policy (PAP) compliance support, and the challenges related to providing such support. Seventy libraries (57%) from sixty-seven institutions responded to the survey. Of the respondents, sixty-three were at libraries located within the United States (90%) and seven were at libraries located in Canada (10%).

    The majority of the responding libraries provide, or plan to provide, resources and services that help authors affiliated with their institution (and/or the author’s support staff) to comply with public access policies. Thirty-seven respondents (53%) indicated that more than one library within their system provides PAP compliance support; eleven (16%) indicated that just one library within their institution is providing this support. Four other institutions (6%) are planning to support PAP compliance. Of the libraries that do not provide such support, eight (11%) indicated that another department or unit within their institution provides compliance support. Eight others (11%) responded that their institution offers no PAP compliance support.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of PAP Web sites, compliance FAQs and flowcharts, handouts and slides from presentations to faculty and library staff, and sample letters to publishers.

  • SPEC Kit 310: Author Addenda (July 2009)

    This SPEC Kit explores how ARL member libraries are promoting the use of author addenda by researchers at their institutions.

    Recent developments in scholarly communication have raised the issue of author rights on academic campuses with increasing frequency. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy, the expanding interest in and use of institutional repositories, the innovation of new models of publishing, and the growing number of universities mandating open access policies are changing the current environment of scholarly dissemination. Consequently, it is increasingly important to manage copyright in ways that serve author interests and those of the scholarly community.

    The survey was distributed to the 123 ARL member libraries in February 2009. Respondents were asked to provide information on the use of author addenda at  their institutions, which rights authors were encouraged to retain, and the methods by which libraries were conducting promotion and outreach efforts on the topic of author rights and addenda. Seventy libraries (57%) responded to the survey. Of those respondents, 35 (50%) indicated that authors at their institutions were using author addenda, and 33 libraries (47%) indicated that they “did not know.” Only two libraries indicated that authors at their institutions were not using author addenda.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of sample addenda, brochures, handouts, and author rights Web sites and slides from presentations to faculty and library staff.

  • SPEC Kit 309: Library Support for Study Abroad (December 2008)

    This SPEC Kit explores how ARL member libraries are responding to the needs of faculty and student participants in various types of study abroad programs, which library services and resources are provided to participants, how library support is staffed and administered, whether collections are physical or online, and how services are delivered.

    For this survey, “study abroad program” was broadly defined as a short-term, formal, credit-bearing educational program taking place outside of the country of the home institution. Research universities have long supported study abroad programs of varying nature, including short-term study tours and service learning experiences, as well as semester- and year-long academic programs. As society becomes more globally focused, and industry requires workers who are prepared to work in a multinational environment, these programs are becoming more critical to America’s competitiveness.

    The survey was distributed to the 123 ARL member libraries in May 2008. Fifty-three libraries completed the survey by the deadline of June 27 for a 43% response rate. Forty-four of the respondents (83%) reported that their university sponsors study abroad programs. At 26 institutions, study abroad programs receive library support, at 12 they do not. Four respondents did not supply this data, though one explained, “The programs don’t receive library support but the individual students are supported.”

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of study abroad program Web pages and descriptions of library services for these programs.

  • SPEC Kit 308: Graduate Student and Faculty Spaces and Services (November 2008)

    This SPEC Kit explores the variety of resources and services being delivered to or envisioned for graduate students and faculty.

    The survey was distributed to the 123 ARL member libraries in March 2008. Sixty-five libraries (six Canadian and 59 American) completed the survey by the deadline of April 28 for a 53% response rate. Of these respondents, 48 institutions (74%) indicated that they provide or plan to provide services or spaces specifically designed for the designated populations. Most are providing or designing spaces/services to meet the needs of both groups, with only seven reporting services/spaces exclusively for graduate students and two locations committed to providing service/space exclusively to faculty. Thirteen of 47 respondents (28%) target discipline-specific graduate students; eight (17%) of these also target a specific group of faculty. In most cases, the targeted groups tend to be in humanities or social sciences.

    This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of descriptions of services, descriptions of spaces, examples of marketing and outreach efforts, and partnership agreements.