collection of model profiles, which offered an alternative way of describing
research libraries in addition to the ARL Statistics.
In the spring of 2009, ARL invited all member libraries to submit profiles.
At that time, the following plan detailed how the profiles were to be used:
• The narratives would stand on their own as accompanying descriptions to
the quantitative annual statistical data.
• The profiles would be analyzed to identify possible new descriptive
variables for the annual statistics that represent today’s research library.
• All materials from the analysis would be made available to the ARL
The long-term goal was to explore testing and development of a multi-
factor index measuring and assessing collections, services, and collaborative
relations using new data elements identified in the profiling process. Such an
index would be an alternative to the ARL Library Investment Index, which is a
summary measure of relative size among the university library members of the
Association and serves as one indicator of potential for ARL membership.1
ARL Profiles: Qualitative Descriptions of Research Libraries in the Early 21st Century
C O N T I N U E D
AUGUST 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
RLLF Fellows Analyze Themes in ARL Library Profiles
Four participants in the 2009–10 ARL Research Library Leadership Fellows (RLLF) program—Bob Fox (Georgia Tech),
Pat Reakes (Florida), Brian Skib (Michigan), and Ann Snowman (Pennsylvania State)—selected the ARL member
library profiles as the subject of their RLLF group project. The group worked with Martha Kyrillidou, Senior Director
of ARL Statistics and Service Quality Programs, to develop the scope of their project, which was to review the
profiles and make recommendations that might inform future changes to the ARL Annual and Supplementary
Statistics. The group drafted a list of themes from the profiles and gathered feedback from other RLLF fellows and
colleagues in their libraries on the themes that warranted further study. The feedback included possible data-
collection mechanisms and frequency. Some of the themes that emerged from this review of the profiles included:
digital publishing, e-science/data curation and management, collaborations across all levels and on/off campus,
assessment activities/space utilization, social networking tools/mobile applications, staffing changes, and
collaborative collection building/development. The group’s complete report and recommendations will be made
available to the Task Force on Reviewing ARL Statistics, ARL Supplementary Statistics, and ARL Annual Salary Survey,
which is slated to begin work in October 2010. This task force is charged to review the three flagship ARL statistical
publications and recommend data elements that should be dropped or revised. The full report will be available by
early October on the ARL website http://www.arl.org/stats/aboutstats/.