Association of Research Libraries

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Association of Research Libraries
Association of Research Libraries logo.svg
Formation December 29, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois [1]
Type Nonprofit organization [2]
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
125 [2]
Carol Pitts Diedrichs
- Ohio State University
Key people
Elliott Shore, Executive Director

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of the leading research libraries in the US and Canada. As of February 2012, ARL comprises 125 libraries at comprehensive, research-intensive institutions that share similar missions, aspirations, and achievements. ARL member libraries make up a large portion of the academic and research library marketplace, spending more than $1.4 billion every year on library materials.[3]

ARL is currently partnered with the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), EDUCAUSE, Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), National Humanities Alliance (NHA), the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and SPARC Europe.[4]

Values & Mission[edit]

Enduring beliefs that bring together Association members in common cause are:

  • Open and equitable access to information is a fundamental tenet of our society.
  • Research libraries are active agents central to the process of the transmission and creation of knowledge.
  • Research libraries have a responsibility to anticipate and prepare for the information needs of present and future users.
  • Collaboration among libraries improves the prospects for individual library success in fulfilling local needs.[5]

The mission of the Association is to shape and influence forces affecting the future of research libraries in the process of scholarly communication. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations.[3]

History 1932-1962[edit]

The Association of Research Libraries held its first meeting in Chicago, Illinois on December 29, 1932. At that time, its membership included 42 major university and research libraries. This first meeting was primarily organizational. The prepared constitution and bylaws were accepted and each library adopted a constitution that stated, "the object shall be, by cooperative effort, to develop and increase the resources and usefulness of the research collections in American libraries."[5] Donald B. Gilchrist was elected as Executive Secretary. The Advisory Committee members included J. Christian Bay (John Crerar Library), James T. Gerould (Princeton University), Harold L. Leupp (University of California – Berkeley), C. C. Williamson (Columbia University), and Phineas L. Windsor (Illinois University).[1]

The first venture to be undertaken by the ARL was a project for the collection of data regarding manuscript collections. This project had little support and was relatively short-lived.[1] However, the second project, the annual listings of the titles of the Ph.D. theses was significant contribution to the profession. The first volume of Doctoral Dissertations Accepted by American Universities was compiled by ARL and was published by H.W. Wilson in 1933. This series of publications would become the predecessor of what is now Dissertation Abstracts.[5] Passed into law in 1933, the National Industrial Recovery Act allowed trade associations and industry representatives to draft industrial codes of fair competition. In order to encourage the preservation of these records, ARL published Address List of Local Code Authorities under N.R.A.: 1933-1935 in 1933 which had been prepared by the National Recovery Administration for the Joint Committee on Materials for Research established by the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Research Council.[1] Two new members were added to ARL in 1936; Grosvenor Library (Buffalo) and New York University. The National Archives had expressed interest in joining but rejected the subsequent invitation.

ARL initiated two projects in 1937; publication of the Library of Congress catalog and an investigation into the pricing policy of the Wilson Company. In December 1937, Keyes D. Metcalf (Harvard University) succeeded Gilchrist as Executive Secretary. Gilchrist continued to edit Doctoral Dissertations Accepted by American Universities and serve on the Wilson Pricing Policy Committee.[1] The University of California – Los Angeles joined the ARL in 1937. Louisiana State University joined ARL in 1938. Keyes's term ended in 1940 and he was replaced by Paul N. Rice (New York Public Library).

In a meeting in January 1942, a proposal for the division of acquisition responsibility was presented. Rice formed a Committee on Postwar Competition in Book Purchases. Members of this committee included Archibald MacLeish (Library of Congress), Keyes D. Metcalf, and Robert Downs (future Director of Libraries at the University of Illinois). This program served as a pilot project for the Farmington Plan.[1] As part of the Library of Congress project, the ARL sponsored the publication of A Catalog of Books Represented by L.C. Printed Cards in 1942.

A two-day meeting was held in March 1944 to discuss a multitude of issues. Resulting from the meeting were a number of committees: Committee on Division of Responsibility for the Acquisition and Recording of Research Materials, Committee to Investigate the Wilson Proposal for Publication of LC Catalog Cards in Book Form, Committee on Reprinting the British Museum Catalog, Committee on Securing Complete Files of Foreign Documents in Certain Designated American Libraries, Committee on Standards for Graduate Colleges, Committee on Statistics of Library Holdings, Committee to Study Plans of Cancellation of Library Discards, Joint Committee on Government Documents, and Joint Committee on Cooperative Buying of Chinese Materials.[1] In 1946, Charles E. David (University of Pennsylvania) was elected Executive Secretary.

The Farmington Plan was initiated in January 1948 covering limited to monographs published in France, Sweden, and Switzerland by 52 cooperating libraries. The overhead expenses were paid for by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation.[6] Also in 1948, ARL Minutes were submitted for publication in College and Research Libraries for the first time.

Robert A. Miller was elected Executive Secretary in December 1951. The Foreign Newspaper Microfilm project was initiated in January 1956. It has 46 subscribers and a first year budget of $14,000.[1] William S. Dix, the 6th Executive Secretary, was elected in 1957. His term lasted only 2 years as he was elected Chairman of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO in 1959. Stephen A. McCarthy was elected in 1960.

On December 5, 1961 the ARL was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia.[5] In May 1962, the National Science Foundation approved a 2-year grant of $58,350 towards the establishment of a full-time ARL Secretariat. The June 1962 invitation meeting brought the total number of ARL members to 72. In 1963, ARL assumed responsibility of publishing annual library statistics.


Executive Director[edit]

Executive Directors 1963–present
Date(s) Name
1963-67 James E. Skipper
1967 Donald F. Cameron
1968-74 Stephen A. McCarthy
1975-76 John P. McDonald
1977-79 John G. Lorenz
1980-81 Ralph E. McCoy
1981-87 Shirley Echelman
1988-07 Duane E. Webster
2008-12 Charles B. Lowry
2013- Elliott Shore

Executive Secretary[edit]

Executive Secretaries 1932-1962
Date(s) Name Affiliation
1932-37 Donald B. Gilchrist University of Rochester
1938-41 Keyes D. Metcalf Harvard University
1942-46 Paul N. Rice New York Public Library
1947-51 Charles W. David University of Pennsylvania
1952-56 Robert A. Miller Indiana University
1957-59 William S. Dix Princeton University
1960-62 Stephen A. McCarthy Cornell University


Presidents 1962–present
Date(s) Name Affiliation
1962-63 William S. Dix Princeton University
1963 Robert Vosper University of California, Los Angeles
1964 Richard H. Logsdon Columbia University
1965 Edward G. Freehafer New York Public Library
1966 Foster E. Mohrhardt National Agricultural Library
1967 Rutherford D. Rogers Stanford University
1968 Andrew J. Eaton Washington University
1969 Douglas W. Bryant Harvard University
1970 Warren J. Haas Columbia University
1971 Thomas R. Buckman Northwestern University
1971-72 John P. McDonald University of Connecticut
1973 William S. Budington John Crerar Library
1974 Ralph H. Hopp University of Minnesota
1975 Richard De Gennaro University of Pennsylvania
1976 Virginia P. Whitney Rutgers University
1977 Edward C. Lathem Dartmouth College
1978 Ray W. Frantz University of Virginia
1979 Le Moyne Anderson Colorado State University
1980 Connie Dunlap Duke University
1981 Jay K. Lucker Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1982 Millicent D. Abell University of California, San Diego
1983 James E. Govan University of North Carolina
1984 Eldred Smith University of Minnesota
1985 Richard J. Talbot University of Massachusetts
1986 Anne Woodsworth University of Pittsburgh
1987 Herbert F. Johnson Emory University
1988 Elaine Sloan Indiana University
1989 Charles E. Miller Florida State University
1990 Martin Runkle University of Chicago
1991 Marilyn D. Sharrow University of California, Davis
1992 Arthur Curley Boston Public Library
1993 Susan Nutter North Carolina State University
1994 John Black University of Guelph
1995 Jerry Campbell Duke University
1996 Nancy Cline Pennsylvania State University
1997 Gloria Werner University of California, Los Angeles
1998 James G. Neal Johns Hopkins University
1999 Betty G. Bengtson University of Washington
2000 Kenneth Frazier University of Wisconsin
2001 Shirley K. Baker Washington University in St. Louis
2002 Paula T. Kaufman University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
2003 Fred Heath Texas A&M University
2004 Sarah Thomas Cornell University
2005 Ann J. Wolpert Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2006 Brian E. C. Schottlaender University of California, San Diego
2007 Sherrie Schmidt Arizona State University
2008 Marianne I. Gaunt Rutgers University
2009 Thomas C. Leonard University of California, Berkeley
2010 Brinley Franklin University of Connecticut
2011 Carol A. Mandel New York University
2012 Winston Tabb Johns Hopkins University
2013 Wendy Pradt Lougee University of Minnesota
2014 Carol Pitts Diedrichs Ohio State University

ARL Statistics and Assessment Program[edit]

Annual library statistics have been collected since 1907. Prior to 1962, annual statistics for university libraries were collected by James Gerould. After ARL's incorporation, statistics have been published annually for the members of the ARL. The whole ARL Statistics data series is the oldest and most comprehensive continuing library statistical series in North America.

The ARL Statistics and Assessment program, through its annually published ARL Statistics[7], monitors the collections, expenditures, staffing, and services of member libraries of the Association. Statistics have been collected and published annually since 1961-62 and serve as indicators of the costs of serials and monographs as well as of the state of funding for research libraries.

ARL Annual Salary Survey
The ARL Annual Salary Survey monitors salaries for more than 12,000 professional positions in member libraries. These data are used to determine whether salaries are competitive, equitable across institutions and personal characteristics, and adjusted for inflation. The survey also tracks minority representation in ARL US libraries and reports separate data for law and health sciences libraries. Statistics have been collected and published annually since 1980.
ARL Academic Health Sciences Library Statistics
This series reports data on collections, expenditures, staffing, and user services in the health science libraries of ARL university institutions.[8]
ARL Academic Law Library Statistics
This series reports data on collections, expenditures, staffing, and user services in the law libraries of ARL university institutions.[8]
ARL Supplementary Statistics
The ARL Supplementary Statistics serve as a testbed to collect information on new measures. It has yielded valuable information on public services and government documents in the past, and is used today to measure the use of electronic resources.[8]
University & Library Total Expenditures
Data on University & Library Total Expenditures (formerly known as the E&G Survey) are used to produce charts and tables showing what fractions of total university spending have gone towards the research library.[8]
Source of Funds
This is an irregular one-question ad-hoc survey which asks: "What % of your [annual] total expenditures are from institutional allocations, auxiliary funds, gifts, grants, endowments, etc.?"[8]
ARL Preservation Statistics
ARL discontinued the annual collection of ARL Preservation Statistics with the 2007-08 survey. The complete series covers the years of 1987-88 through 2007-08. There was a pilot survey conducted in 1984-85.[8]


Models for measurement and evaluation that address issues of service quality, electronic resource usage and value, and outcomes assessment have also been developed. LibQUAL+ is based on Colleen Cook's (currently Dean of Libraries at McGill University) dissertation[9] and is the most mature of these models. It is a suite of services that libraries use to solicit, track, understand, and act upon users' opinions of service quality. LibQUAL+ has been implemented in more than 1000 libraries across the world and continuing improvements and research has made it sustainable.[10] Results have been used to develop a better understanding of perceptions of library service quality, interpret user feedback systematically over time, and identify best practices across institutions.[11]

Other assessment and evaluation projects and services are available through the ARL Statistics and Measurement Program.

Flagship Publications[edit]

  • Research Library Issues
  • ARL Statistics
  • ARL Academic Law Library Statistics
  • ARL Academic Health Sciences Library Statistics
  • ARL Annual Salary Survey
  • ARL Preservation Statistics
  • ARL Supplementary Statistics
  • SPEC Kits

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h McGowan, F.M. (1972). The Association of Research Libraries: 1932-1962. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. 
  2. ^ a b "History of ARL". Association of Research Libraries. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "About". Association of Research Libraries. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Partners & Working Relationships". Association of Research Libraries. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d George, L.A. & Blixrud, J. "Celebrating Seventy Years of the Association of Research Libraries, 1932–2002" (PDF). ARL. Association of Research Libraries. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Metcalf, K. D. (Autumn 1948). "The Farmington Plan". Harvard Library Bulletin. 2 (3): 296. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Kyrillidou, Martha (2011 [annual]). ARL Statistics. Washington DC: Association of Research Libraries.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. ^ a b c d e f ARL Statistics. "Series". Association of Research Libraries. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Cook, Colleen (2001). A mixed-methods approach to the identification and measurement of academic library service quality constructs: LibQUAL+™. Dissertation Abstracts International, 62, 2295A (University Microfilms No. AAT3020024).: Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. 
  10. ^ Kyrillidou, Martha (2009). Item Sampling in Service Quality Assessment Surveys to Improve Rates and Reduce Respondent Burden: The 'LibQUAL+® Lite' Randomized Control Trial (RCT). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Doctoral dissertation. 
  11. ^ Smith, K. (2013). Association of College and Research Libraries Conference 2013: Imagine, Innovate, Inspire. Serials Review, 39(3), 202-205.