Eighty-six ARL members submitted the institutional profiles. ARL
consultants and staff2 used computer software, ATLAS.ti, to identify and
analyze the ideas and themes contained in the narrative profiles. The software
provided tools to isolate, code, and annotate the ideas and themes and to
evaluate and rank them. The resulting set of reports not only broke each profile
into a set of codes but also combined the codes into an overall view of the 86
responses, showing the frequency of themes and terms across all profiles as
well as suggesting how libraries are similar and different.
It should be stressed that the profiles are not inventories or lists of every
service or program that a library provides. Indeed, two libraries may host the
same activity and one may discuss it at length in the profile while the other may
not mention it at all. A profile reflects what a given library viewed as important
at the time the profile was written. Therefore, when the frequency of an activity
is mentioned below, bear in mind that it is the frequency of how many libraries
mentioned that activity, not how many actually perform it.
Of the 86 libraries that provided profiles for analysis, 82 were academic
libraries (7 Canadian, 22 US private, and 53 US public institutions). While all
the profiles were valuable, this report focuses on the 82 academic libraries.
As an overview, six broad categories emerged from the analysis of the pro-
files. More detailed codes are grouped under each broad category and are too
numerous to be discussed in detail in this brief report. Instead, major themes,
similarities, and differences are discussed here along with suggestions for codes
that merit further investigation and discussion as possible new measures.
The six categories discussed here are:
Management and Self-Assessment
Collaboration and Support—External
Collaboration and Support—Internal
Library Services
Branch Libraries
Collections
Analysis of Six Categories
Management and Self-Assessment
Virtually all of the profiles mentioned the need for assessment as indicated in
RLI 271
27
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
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