SPEC Kit 339: Innovation and R&D · 11
Framework for Innovation and R&D
Research libraries increasingly prize innovation as
a key to sustaining a competitive edge in a rapidly
changing landscape of library services and content.
While informal data suggests that research libraries
have increased the amount of effort on innovation and
research and development (R&D) in the past decade,
it is not clear in what areas these efforts are focused
and if the activities are integrated into the library’s
organizational structure and processes.
The purpose of this survey was to investigate the
current state of both innovation and R&D in research
library organizations. The survey sought first to un-
derstand what outward-facing commitments libraries
have made to innovation and R&D, and what founda-
tions are in place to support these activities. It asked
who is involved in innovative activities, how libraries
organize themselves to create, support, and sustain
innovation, and how they measure the resulting out-
comes. It also collected data on which research librar-
ies support R&D, at what level, for what purposes,
and how these activities are organized, funded, and
assessed. The survey was distributed to the 125 ARL
member libraries in July 2013 and these results are
based on data submitted by 47 libraries (38%) by the
deadline of September 3, 2013.
After defining innovation and research and devel-
opment, the survey asked if the library had a strategic
plan or another type of planning document that in-
cludes specific references to innovation or R&D. The
responses show that the majority of libraries do have
such a planning document. Fifteen respondents (32%)
reported there is a document that refers to innovation,
14 (30%) reported that their strategic plan refers to
both innovation and R &D, and two (4%) responded
that their library’s strategic plan mentions R &D.
Some respondents noted that their strategic plans
refer broadly to innovation, while others identified
specific activities that they consider to be innovative,
for example, support for digital library development,
and the integration of technology into planning for
new spaces and user-focused services.
Sixteen respondents (34%) said the library strategic
plan does not specifically mention either type of activ-
ity. Some of these noted that while the terms “innova-
tion” or “R &D” didn’t appear in their strategic plan,
they considered one or more of the activities identified
in the strategic plan to be innovative in nature.
The survey next asked whether the library has
other documents, such as policies or guidelines, that
reference either innovation or R &D. About half of
the responding libraries do, and half don’t (23 or 52%).
Eleven of the respondents (25%) indicated that they
have policies that reference innovation, six (14%) have
policies that reference both, and one has an R&D doc-
ument. Six (14%) responded that they are developing
such documents.
Most of the respondents (36 or 80%) indicated that
references to library innovation or R&D do appear
in campus-level policies and guidelines. Only a few
(7 or 16%) indicated that campus policies and guide-
lines do not specifically refer to library activities two
noted that campus-level documents are currently in
Case Study: Descriptions of Library Innovation
The survey asked libraries to identify one example of
a service, product, or process in their library that they
considered to be innovative, and to provide further
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