ARL Profiles: Qualitative
Descriptions of Research
Libraries in the Early 21st
Century
William Gray Potter, University Librarian and Associate Provost,
University of Georgia
Colleen Cook, Dean of University Libraries, Texas A&M University
Martha Kyrillidou, Senior Director of Statistics
and Service Quality Programs, ARL
Wsentiment
hen ARL library directors were interviewed in 2005 and asked to
describe a research library in the
21st
century, there was general
that the suite of ARL Statistics and the toolkit of
services offered through the ARL Statistics and Assessment capability were
insufficient in answering this question. There was a call for greater flexibility in
describing today’s research library in qualitative terms. Textual narrative
descriptions of collections, services, collaborative relations, and other programs,
as well as physical spaces will be necessary if the essence of a research library is
to be described and evaluated.
This article describes some of the themes that emerged from narrative
descriptions later submitted by ARL libraries. The Statistics and Assessment
Committee discussed these themes and considered how to use them to shape the
committee’s future work and accelerate ARL’s Statistics and Assessment work as
indicated in the 2010–12 ARL Strategic Plan.
Background
During 2007 and 2008, members of the ARL Statistics and Assessment
Committee in collaboration with other ARL member leaders developed
narrative descriptions of their libraries called profiles. The end result was a small
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AUGUST 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC