NILOA and ACRL Release “Creating Sustainable Assessment through Collaboration: A National Program Reveals Effective Practices”

Creating Sustainable Assessment through Collaboration:The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) announces the release of “Creating Sustainable Assessment through Collaboration: A National Program Reveals Effective Practices” in partnership with ACRL. The occasional paper was written by Kara J. Malenfant, ACRL Senior Strategist for Special Initiatives, and Karen Brown, professor in the School of Information Studies at Dominican University, Illinois. The full paper is available online.

Creating Sustainable Assessment through Collaboration” synthesizes the results of ACRL’s Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success (AiA) program, which involved over 200 campus teams led by librarians designing, implementing, and evaluating an action-learning project that sought to strengthen the competencies of librarians in campus leadership and data-informed advocacy. The paper looks at the collaborative practices advanced by the AiA program (made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services) and explains how these practices promote assessment aligned with institutional priorities, encourage common understanding among stakeholder groups about attributes of academic success, produce meaningful measures of student learning, create a unified campus message about student learning and success, and focus on transformative and sustainable change.

Five particularly compelling AiA findings are:

  1. Students benefit from library instruction in their initial coursework;
  2. Library use increases student success;
  3. Collaborative academic programs and services involving the library enhance student learning;
  4. Information literacy instruction strengthens general education outcomes; and
  5. Library research consultations boost student learning.

“The Assessment in Action program was a groundbreaking examination of the impact of the library on student success and the furthering of institutional goals. This paper is a compelling look at why these practices worked and how important it is for librarians to collaborate with other stakeholders on campus,” says ACRL Executive Director Mary Ellen K. Davis.

Creating Sustainable Assessment through Collaboration” goes on to show how the AiA experience can serve as a framework for designing assessment approaches that build partnerships and generate results for improving student learning and success through action research, and that the program results demonstrate how libraries contribute to fostering broad student outcomes essential to contemporary postsecondary education. The assessment practices that emerged from the AiA projects can be implemented in a variety of institutional settings and with varying campus priorities.

“We are delighted to showcase the power of collaborative efforts to assess student learning and understand the diverse learning environment that emerged from the AiA projects. It is clear from these efforts that librarians are a valued and integral partner to enhancing student learning,” says NILOA Director Natasha Jankowski.

The report is available as a free PDF for download online.

Academic Library Impact: Improving Practice and Essential Areas to Research

Academic Library ImpactACRL announces the release of Academic Library Impact: Improving Practice and Essential Areas to Research. Developed for ACRL by OCLC Research, this valuable resource investigates how libraries can increase student learning and success and effectively communicate their value to higher education stakeholders. The full report is freely available for download on the ACRL website.

Now more than ever, academic libraries are being asked to demonstrate value to their institutional stakeholders, funders, and governance boards. Academic Library Impact builds on ACRL’s 2010 Value of Academic Libraries: A Comprehensive Research Review and Report and the results of the subsequent Assessment in Action program. It demonstrates how libraries are now measuring library contributions to student learning and success, and recommends where more research is needed in areas critical to the higher education sector such as accreditation, student retention, and academic achievement.

Academic Library Impact captures the incredible strides made by the profession in assessing and demonstrating the contributions of academic libraries to the academy, and creates a path for moving us into the future via new research avenues,” says ACRL Executive Director Mary Ellen K. Davis.

This action-oriented research agenda includes:

  • a report on all project phases and findings;
  • a detailed research agenda based on those findings;
  • a visualization component that filters relevant literature and creates graphics that can communicate library value to stakeholders;
  • a bibliography of the literature analyzed; and
  • a full bibliography of the works cited and reviewed.

All components were produced in partnership with OCLC Research and include analyses of library and information science (LIS) and higher education literature, focus group interviews and brainstorming sessions with academic library administrators at different institution types within the United States, and individual interviews with provosts.

“OCLC is really pleased to collaborate with ACRL on such an important topic,” said Lorcan Dempsey, Vice President of Membership and Research and OCLC Chief Strategist. “We hope this research agenda will help administrators as they examine the changing role of libraries and their collections in the lives of their students.”

Building on established best practices and recent research, Academic Library Impact clearly identifies priority areas and suggests specific actions for academic librarians and administrators to take in developing programs, collections, and spaces focused on student learning and success. It includes effective practices, calls out exemplary studies, and indicates where more inquiry is needed, with proposed research designs. It identifies the next generation of necessary research to continue to testify to library value. This new report is a significant milestone for ACRL’s Value of Academic Libraries initiative and for the profession.

Learn more about the report in this video overview:

The report is now available as a free PDF for download, and a print edition for purchase will be available through the ALA Store in October 2017. A companion online tool, “Visualizing Academic Library Impact: The ACRL/OCLC Literature Analysis Dashboard” helps librarians and researchers filter the existing literature for studies most relevant to their research interests and visually explore the literature and other data in the form of charts and graphs.


ACRL VAL + OCLCThe team from OCLC Research which is developing a new action-oriented agenda on library contributions to student learning and success has released a second draft (PDF). Team members seek your input and reactions via the feedback form by February 17, 2017.

Learn about the team’s continued progress and next steps during ACRL’s Update on the Value of Academic Libraries Initiative at ALA Midwinter meeting on Sunday, January 22, 2017, 1:00 PM – 2:30 pm. In this session, join ACRL’s Value of Academic Libraries committee chair to hear the context for this work along with OCLC Research’s project director and project team members. Ask questions and give your feedback on the second draft.

Find out more about the scope of the agenda and background on the project website or by watching the recording of a November ACRL online forum.