preservation, rather than on building collections. Indeed, adding to collections
was not overtly mentioned in any profile. Certainly, collection building is
ongoing, but it was not prominent in the profiles.
Private university libraries were more likely to mention their nationally
significant or distinctive collection than public university libraries (64% to 30%).
Otherwise, there was little divergence by type or funding level.
Other themes mentioned by more than a quarter of the libraries included
electronic theses and dissertations (37%), created digital objects (33%),
government depository (29%), and microform collections (33%). Themes
mentioned less frequently include map collections (9%), disaster recovery (4%),
and weeding (4%). Electronic books were mentioned in 15% of the profiles.
The challenge of measuring the impact of the transition from print to digital has
long been recognized within ARL. The profiles underline this challenge and
should provide some guidance to the Statistics and Assessment Committee.
The ARL Statistics and Assessment Committee completed the analysis of the
profiles this spring and has identified new directions as articulated in the above
recommendations. When combined with other activities, notably the Lib-Value
project3 as well as local efforts to develop library scorecards, ARL hopes that the
profiles can be used to refine existing programs as well as to identify new ones.
The profiles are a snapshot of the libraries at the time when these narratives
were written. In many cases, the profiles are already obsolete. If libraries want to
update profiles on a voluntary basis ARL will post updated versions on the
website as received. The committee considers that a strategy of systematic
updating of the profiles once every four or five years may be a good option for
the future as a complement to the numbers collected through the ARL Statistics
survey, given the reporting burden and the resource demands of this activity.
The analysis of the profiles has been a formative exercise that can help ARL
identify new metrics. Recognizing that these profiles and the analysis performed
might be useful to others in the ARL community, the findings will be made
available through the ARL Statistics and Assessment website
http://www.arl.org/stats/. All are invited to visit the website and ARL staff and
committee members are happy to answer any questions. Indeed, it is hoped that
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