THE TRENDS CONTINUE
The Web has revolutionized the way libraries are delivering services, enabling them to offer more
value ranging from remote access to online catalogs, indexing and abstracting tools, and full‐text
resources delivered at the userʹs desktop. The delivery of new and innovative services through
digitization projects and distance learning technologies is transforming the brick‐and‐mortar library
model to a virtual model.
Higher education is changing. Recently the well‐known classification by the Carnegie
Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching shows that institutions are increasingly described in many
different ways, based on different characteristics. “The Carnegie Classifications has traditionally grouped
institutions by degrees offered, so that doctoral institutions were in one group and community colleges in
another, and so forth. The new classifications29 take a very different approach. Institutions are grouped
(multiple times) based on what is taught, to whom, and in what setting. The old system — with some
revisions — will still be used.”30 The recent Spellings report calls for further evidence of accountability,
accessibility, affordability and quality.31
Library roles are being redefined as the research and academic community undergoes profound
changes. The ARL Statistics and Measurement program and its advisory Statistics and Assessment
Committee continue to look for new ways to describe and measure the performance of research libraries and
their contributions to teaching, research, learning, and community service. In a period of rapid technological
change and fluctuation, the information gathered here represents only a basic and rudimentary picture of the
major trends affecting research libraries, their resources, and their use. The challenge of describing libraries
at a time when Google™ promises to digitize the largest research libraries of the world is a formidable one.
This data compilation does not assess the quality of a library in meeting user needs, nor does it
provide a complete picture of investments in electronic resources and other innovations. Answers to these
questions can only be found by other measures, such as asking library users about their real needs and then
designing better service delivery systems. ARL is engaged in a variety of projects that aim to assess the
library’s impact on teaching, learning, and research, as well as the ability of libraries to control costs and add
value to the services they provide. William Crowe captured the importance of the increased attention ARL
libraries gave to measurement and assessment during the last decade by characterizing the movement as a
“move beyond the rearview mirror approach.”32
Library assessment is gaining in momentum and importance within libraries33 with a multiplicity of
methods and tools now available from ARL to libraries including LibQUAL+®, MINES for Libraries™,
DigiQUAL™, in addition to the regular ARL Statistics. Resource investments in electronic products are
tracked through the ARL Supplementary Statistics and other pilot projects. The ARL E‐Metrics pilot resulted
in a revised ARL Supplementary Statistics in 2003‐04.
30 Inside Higher Education, November 21, 2005.
31 The Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, has issued the Spellings Commission Report on higher education, found at
32 William J. Crowe, ʺThe End of History? Reflections on a Decadeʺ ARL: A Bimonthly Report on Research Library Issues and Actions from
ARL, CNI, and SPARC 226 (February 2003): 12‐13, http://www.arl.org/newsltr/226/endofhistory.html.
33 Steve Hiller, Martha Kyrillidou and Jim Self, “Assessment in North American research libraries: a preliminary report card.” Performance
Measurement and Metrics 7 (2) (2006): 100‐106.