RLI 271 25 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 that the suite of ARL Statistics and the toolkit ofcentury, there was generalsthen ARL library directors were interviewed in 2005 and asked todescribe a research library in the 21 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 AUGUST 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC