Integrating the Academic Libraries Survey (ALS) into IPEDS: The Process Begins

Editor’s Note: The ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey Editorial Board is working to create awareness of the migration of the NCES Academic Library Survey back into the Integrated Postsecondary Data System (IPEDS) and the implications for academic libraries. This is the first of a series of updates from the Robert Dugan, dean of libraries at the University of West Florida, and chair of the ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey Editorial Board.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has integrated the Academic Libraries (AL) component, formerly known as the biennial Academic Libraries Survey (ALS), into its Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15 collection. All degree-granting, Title IV postsecondary institutions in the U.S. and other jurisdictions are required to report library information annually.

The ALS was usually completed and submitted by the academic library. However, the institution’s designated IPEDS keyholder will be responsible for ensuring completion of the 2014-15 AL component.  Keyholders may designate additional users to assist them with the survey; the data entry for the AL component can be delegated to a person working in the library.  To facilitate the keyholder’s AL data collection, IPEDS designated ALS respondents as AL contacts and loaded their information into the IPEDS Data Collection System. IPEDS then contacted institutional keyholders to inform them of the changes in library data collection and encouraged them to reach out to the AL contact.

On July 17, 2014, Richard Reeves, Program Director of IPEDS, officially notified the AL contacts via email from the IPEDS Help Desk about the data collection changes. The email also asked the recipient to contact the keyholder if they had yet to be in touch.  The ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey Editorial Board encourages all library directors to help the institutional keyholders understand the library data elements requirements by confirming your expertise concerning the AL data elements. This is an opportunity to increase contact and deepen relationships with the Instuitional Research (IR) office.

If the keyholder adds the AL contact or someone else at the library as an IPEDS user, the IPEDS Help Desk at will send the keyholder-designated person an email with a user id number and a temporary password. Following the instructions on this email, the designee will be required to enter a permanent password and complete a simple registration form. Then, the now-registered user may download and review the IPEDS New Keyholder Handbook 2014 – 2015 and view the institution’s status of completing the three annual IPEDS survey collections. Registered IPEDS users will also receive communications about survey collections, such as the follow-up email sent on September 3 reminding keyholders of the need to complete the Fall 2014 IPEDS web-based data collection no later than October 15, 2014.

There is one question about the academic library on each of two separate components of the Fall 2014 data collection. The Institutional Characteristics component asks if the institution has its own library or if it is financially supporting a shared library with another postsecondary education institution. Three responses are possible for this question and institution must choose one. This question has appeared on this specific IPEDS component in the past.

A new question about the academic library is asked on the IC Header component. Referred to as a Survey Screening Question, the institution’s keyholder, or their registered library user if so delegated by the keyholder, is required to enter the total library expenditures at the institution for Fiscal Year 2014. If the library expenditures are greater than 0, the institution will be required to report additional information about their library collections in the AL component. If the amount reported is greater than $100,000, additional screens will be required in the AL component for reporting additional expenditure information. The AL component is part of the Spring IPEDS collection which opens December 10, 2014. Academic librarians may want to seek out the institutional keyholder to help them with the new question about the library’s expenditures, especially as to its importance as a screening question for the Spring data collection.

The ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey Editorial Board plans to highlight many of the more important changes in the AL data elements and other topics in future ACRL Insider releases. Additionally, a one hour free webinar, “Update on the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Academic Library Survey,” will be presented on Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern (1:00 p.m. Central) and an update information session will be held at the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago on Saturday January 31, 2015.

- Bob Dugan, Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey Editorial Board, University of West Florida

Choice to Launch Guest of Choice Editorial Feature

Choice, the premier review journal for new English-language books and digital resources for academic libraries, is initiating a new feature in its editorial lineup, a series of guest editorials informally called “Guest of Choice.” Contributed by creative and insightful thinkers in library and allied professions, materials in this new series seek to engage readers in important issues and debates concerning the state of academic librarianship, information management and access, new publishing models and other topics appropriate to Choice’s audience.

“Guest of Choice” will launch in October in both Choice magazine and Choice Reviews Online, featuring a provocative article by Mark Sandler, director of the Center for Library Initiatives at the Committee on Institutional Cooperation in Champaign, Ill.. Sandler’s article, “Coffee’s for Closers,” touches on the timely question of customer acquisition and retention in academic libraries.  Calling a business model that separates funding from customer satisfaction a threat to the future of academic libraries, Sandler recommends adopting a strategy that focuses instead on demand, specifically user demand for library services. “Market to the insecurities of the campus,” Sandler writes.

Under the direction of Tom Radko, editorial director of Choice, these occasional guest columns are designed to foster a dialogue among members of Choice’s core audience. Radko envisions “Guest of Choice” as another opportunity to expand the usefulness of Choice, which is heavily used by librarians to purchase books for college and university libraries.

“Traditional missions are being challenged industry-wide,” says Radko, “and we are engaged in intense explorations of how Choice might develop enhancements and services that satisfy the needs of the library and publishing communities as a whole. We see these guest columns as contributing to that effort.”

Suggestions of individuals who might serve as a “Guest of Choice” should be directed to

Fall 2014 ACRL e-Learning

elearning bigACRL is offering a variety of online learning opportunities in fall 2014 to meet the demands of your schedule and budget. Full details and registration information are available on the ACRL website.

ACRL online courses provide asynchronous, multi-week content with weekly readings and assignments. Online courses scheduled for fall 2014 include:

Managing Change in Academic Libraries (October 13-November 3, 2014): Change can be difficult to deal with in any workplace, but the fast pace of change in libraries is particularly difficult.  Designed for library supervisors who will need to lead staff (at any level) through change, learn about the potential impact of the stress of change, and how to properly prepare others and one’s self for change.

Preparing for Accreditation: An Introduction for Librarians (October 20-November 7, 2014): This course will assist librarians in preparing for accreditation and will take a “how to do it” approach with an emphasis on compiling evidence, writing persuasive self-study documents, and creating long-term plans as part of and aligned with institutional accreditation efforts.

ACRL webcasts address hot topics in academic librarianship. Webcasts last 90 minutes and take place in an interactive online classroom. Group discounts are available for all ACRL e-Learning webcasts. Fall 2014 webcasts include:

Moving from Impossible to Manageable: Helping Students Manage and Focus Research Topics (October 22, 2014): Learn tips and strategies about collaborating with academic faculty to offer meaningful instruction addressing the skills students need to use when they go about defining, modifying, and planning an “information need” at the beginning of the research process.

Precision Googling: Techniques to Extract Exactly What You Want from the Largest Search Engine (November 13, 2014): This interactive webcast will include a review of advanced search techniques, syntax, and operators; explanation of recent changes to the search interface; hands-on practice with advanced search operators and tools; and real-time exploration of and discussion of the algorithms that generate user-specific results.

Complete details and registration information for all fall 2014 e-Learning opportunities are available on the ACRL website. Contact Margot Conahan at for more information.

Member of the Week: David Midyette

David MidyetteDavid Midyette is Reference and Instruction Librarian at the Roseman University of Health Sciences in Henderson, Nevada. David has been an ACRL member since 2009 and is your ACRL member of the week for September 15, 2014.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Eclectic, Curious, Loyal.

2. What are you currently reading (or listening to on your mobile device)?  At the moment, I’m in book one of Game of Thrones on Audible. Despite being a librarian, I’m not an avid reader as I have quite specific tastes in books.

3. Describe ACRL in three words:  Respected, Resourceful, Rewarding.

4. What do you value about ACRL? Quite honestly, I value the opportunity to connect with colleagues who share both a specific interest in the health sciences as well as those with a broader range of interests. ACRL has long provided me with a connection to a comprehensive view of academic librarianship, and I have truly enjoyed reading both C&RL and C&RL News for many years. I have always found the topics and news to be both timely and on point. Librarianship for me is all about the flow of information, and ACRL has been a reliable conduit for that flow. While I haven’t been the most involved member due to my unique career path, I have always felt connected to the academic world through multiple academic degrees, and ACRL has been instrumental in allowing me to stay abreast of topics of interest to librarians in both direct and peripheral academic settings.

5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? Given the unique nature of my current institution, I take more of a support role. Our students have a compressed timeline for completing their degrees, and this limits or prohibits my time with them in the classroom. As a result, I have become far more interested in passive reference and instruction, and have begun talking to faculty about generating subject focused assignments that contain strong searching skills components. More specifically, I want to help develop information literacy exercises where students do not necessarily realize that they are learning “library” skills. In my instruction and orientation sessions, I focus on connecting students to specific guides to meet their information needs, and I am currently working on developing targeted, and very short, tutorials on finding information.

6. In your own words:  As a librarian and instructor, I feel that we need to take a very long and hard look at library education. I believe that entry level library positions are more suited to a bachelor level degree in library science, and that we should adjust our educational programs accordingly. I know that there is a movement by a few to study the issue and I look forward to working toward that end. I still think that there is a place for graduate library science degrees, but that an undergraduate level degree is a far better starting place for future new librarians.

As someone who has taught MLIS classes, I do not see the value in the content as being at that level, and it is certainly nowhere near as complex or challenging as that of my subject area master’s degree. I would much prefer hiring someone with a BS in library science and then supporting them in the pursuit of a subject area masters or doctoral degree. With the advanced degree, they would be far better suited to act as liaisons to specific departments or disciplinary groups, and hopefully by that point they would have published in the subject area, which would make their liaison connections far more collegial in nature. I see the librarians of the future as true information specialists who know the discipline(s) they support because they have had coursework, research, and publications in the subject(s).

I feel that these changes in our approach to professional education would go a long way towards improving both the profession and the image of the profession. Of course, there would still be the option of the MLIS for those interested in a fuller understanding of the profession, or for those who had no need of a subject specialty. There will always be a need for professionals to do what we do, but we can be a great deal smarter about the approach to educating our future colleagues.

Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at for more information.

Upcoming ACRL Webcast – Create Awesome Tutorials (9/16)

Join ACRL for the e-Learning webcast, “You’re Doing it Wrong: Ten Rules to Break to Create Awesome Tutorials,” on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 (1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Central).

Did you learn that your tutorials should open with a list of objectives? Or perhaps, you learned that you need to have knowledge checks embedded throughout your tutorial. Have you created a tutorial with multimedia features like text and narration?  These traditional “best practices” have shaped the way librarians deliver instructional content, but unfortunately, they have stunted our efforts at creating engaging and meaningful learning experiences.  In this webcast, the presenters will draw upon the latest research in instructional design and e-learning to show how we can break the rules that have lead us down the path of ineffective and often ignored content. By deconstructing a tutorial created with current guidelines and applying new ways of thinking about e-learning, the presenters will show how to break free of traditional and ineffective best practices and offer a new set of pedagogical strategies that are based on current research in e-learning.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify new theories and best practices in instructional design in order to create effective and engaging tutorials.
  • Learn about ten historical guidelines that are no longer relevant in order to avoid common tutorial design pitfalls.
  • Evaluate several tutorials in order to create more effective means of information delivery for instruction.

Presenter(s): Yvonne Mery, Instructional Design Librarian, University of Arizona Libraries; Andrew See, Information Associate Senior, University of Arizona Libraries

Registration materials and details on the webcast are available on the ACRL e-Learning website; group registration and other discounts are available.  Contact or call (312) 280-2522 with questions.

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