ACRL Teams with OCLC Research for Research Agenda

Lynn Silipigni Connaway, senior research scientist at OCLC; Lorcan Dempsey, vice president and chief strategist at OCLC Research; and Mary Ellen K. Davis, ACRL executive director
Lynn Silipigni Connaway, senior research scientist at OCLC; Lorcan Dempsey, vice president and chief strategist at OCLC Research; and Mary Ellen K. Davis, ACRL executive director; celebrating the ACRL/ OCLC collaboration.

ACRL has selected a team from OCLC Research to design, develop, and deliver a new ACRL “Action-Oriented Research Agenda on Library Contributions to Student Learning and Success.”

The team was selected after an open and competitive request for proposals to investigate and write a research agenda that provides an update on progress since the publication of ACRL’s 2010 Value of Academic Libraries: A Comprehensive Research Review and Report and examines important questions where more research is needed in areas critical to the higher education sector. The focus of the research agenda will be on institutional priorities for improved student learning and success (e.g., retention, persistence, degree completion).

“We are excited to be working with OCLC Research, a renowned independent research unit, to create this new agenda as a way to both guide academic librarians on actions they can take now to communicate their contributions to higher education and to identify essential areas that merit further investigation,” remarked ACRL Executive Director Mary Ellen K. Davis.

The agenda clearly will identify actions academic libraries can take now based on both existing scholarship and practice-based reports, and it will include 10-15 future-focused key inquiry questions that the literature and interview data suggest are essential for academic librarians to explore. In addition, the project will include an interactive visualization dashboard to help librarians understand and make use of existing literature for studies most relevant to their research interests. It will also contain a visualization component that highlights the major themes in the report, enables data entry based on local projects, and produces a graphic that can be shared with campus stakeholders.

Project director Lynn Silipigni Connaway, senior research scientist at OCLC, is joined by team members William Harvey, consulting software engineer at OCLC, and Vanessa Kitzie and Stephanie Mikitish, both doctoral candidates in the Library and Information Science program at Rutgers University. The team will seek regular feedback from both ACRL’s Value of Academic Libraries Committee and an advisory group consisting of academic librarians at 12 institutions that include community colleges, 4-year colleges, and research universities from secular, non-secular, public, and private institutions representing the 4 geographical regions of the United States.

“We were impressed with OCLC’s in-kind contributions to the project as well as the composition of the advisory board and the active role they will take in connecting the team with vice presidents and provosts for interviews,” continued Davis. “Likewise, the robust data visualization component will prove a powerful tool in helping academic librarians navigate the rich body of scholarly research and practice-based literature that already exists. We are particularly fortunate to benefit from the unique perspective that Lynn brings through her work at OCLC and her deep engagement with ACRL as a former chair of ACRL’s Value of Academic Libraries Committee.”

Lorcan Dempsey, vice president and chief strategist at OCLC Research, commented, “This project fits perfectly with our commitment to act as a community resource for shared research and development. Like ACRL, we are committed to scaling learning and innovation across the communities we serve. We are really pleased to be collaborating with ACRL on a project to advance thinking on a central library question.”

The team’s work began in early August 2016 and includes a presentation at the upcoming Library Assessment Conference as well as an online open forum in mid November to share progress with the broader community and solicit feedback. A final document of publishable quality, 60-100 pages in length, is due in May 2017 for public release in June. Read more about project deliverables and timeline in an excerpt of the successful proposal.


About ACRL

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for librarians. Representing more than 11,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship. ACRL is on the Web at, Facebook at and Twitter at @ala_acrl.

About OCLC

OCLC is a nonprofit global library cooperative providing shared technology services, original research and community programs so that libraries can better fuel learning, research and innovation. Through OCLC, member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the most comprehensive global network of data about library collections and services. Libraries gain efficiencies through OCLC’s WorldShare, a complete set of library management applications and services built on an open, cloud-based platform. It is through collaboration and sharing of the world’s collected knowledge that libraries can help people find answers they need to solve problems. Together as OCLC, member libraries, staff and partners make breakthroughs possible.

Update from the ACRL Liaison to the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI)

ACRL recognizes the importance of enabling librarians to be change agents in higher education, and of promoting the library’s role in advancing the teaching, learning, and research missions of our institutions. One of ACRL’s approaches to building awareness and activism is the network of ACRL liaisons assigned to external, non-library organizations across a range of topics.

When the ACRL liaison to the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) position opened, I was particularly intrigued because it connects two organizations for which I have great respect, and is an opportunity to have a positive impact beyond my institution alone. I was honored to be selected; my new appointment as the ACRL/ELI Liaison commenced officially on July 1, 2015. The ELI leaders – Malcolm Brown and Veronica Diaz, the Director and Associate Director respectively – were eager to begin discussions immediately and we developed a list of ideas for exploration in the coming year. Those ideas were further vetted with others in the library community, including the members of the ACRL Student Learning & Information Literacy Committee (SLILC) that sponsored my liaison assignment.

First Steps

When we began discussions, our initial goal was to discover where the two organization’s activities and priorities intersect and how best to engage our members with each other. One interesting difference is that ACRL is largely based on individual memberships while ELI is based on institutional memberships. If you aren’t certain if your institution is a member of ELI, you can search their member directory at:

I was familiar with the well-known “7 Things You Should Know” series, and learned about the “7 Things You Should Read” series with recent topics such as data visualization for instruction, personalized learning models, copyright in online education, and digital divides and today’s technologies. ELI leaders recognize the content expertise and research prowess of librarians and are open to new ways of working together to continue to support these series. If you have ideas about hot topics or are personally interested in contributing, please let me know. See “7 Things” publications at:

ELI’s annual survey of key issues in teaching and learning often include areas of shared interest with libraries such as academic transformation, faculty development, assessment of learning, digital and information literacies, accessibility, learning space designs, online and blended learning, and open textbooks and open educational resources. ELI uses these themes as the focal points for upcoming publications, online programming, and conference tracks, and ACRL members likely see connections to projects, services, and research of their own. See the “2016 ELI Key Issues” at:

One special initiative is called “Leading Academic Transformation,” an ELI community of practice formed around the idea that collaborative innovation is required to realize true academic transformation. All institutions are encouraged to create a cohort on their campus with senior leaders from libraries, academic affairs, centers for teaching and learning, information technology, innovation strategy, instructional technology, and student services. This model is an excellent way to create an intentional network on your campus if you don’t already have these connections formed. See more at:

ELI Annual Meeting

I attended the ELI Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas in February 2016 called “Crafting Our Future: Toward New Digital Learning Environments.”  The ELI conference is primarily attended by educational technologists, instructional designers, IT administrators, student services staff, and faculty, though of course there were other intrepid librarians also.

Following tradition, the “2016 NMC Horizon Report – Higher Education edition” was released during the conference and provided a broad framework for discussing current trends, significant challenges, and important developments in higher education ( This spring ACRL announced it would be a dissemination partner for the “2017 NMC Horizon Report – Library edition” at the 2017 ACRL National Conference – that is an exciting development.

With encouragement from the ELI leaders and ACRL SLILC members, I developed a poster session with Sharon Mader, ACRL’s Visiting Program Officer for Information Literacy, called “Digital Learning Environments Demand New Partnerships for Teaching.” We used the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education as a foundation for discussing content, pedagogies, and partnerships. The poster session was a great way to share recent ACRL work and discuss the roles of librarians and libraries more generally. You can see our handout at:

Informal conversations with other attendees covered a range of topics such as alt-media services, accessibility, faculty and instructor development, support for course and assignment design and assessment, and learning analytics. Frequently the conversation would end with the person saying that they wished their librarian was interested in the issue we were discussing, and I would tell them enthusiastically that I suspect that they are. I encouraged people to return to campus and contact their library director or head of library instruction; when I knew a library contact at their institution I mentioned them by name. This experience reminded me of the need to reach out to potential campus partners frequently and with some specific ideas about topics that I know are relevant to us both such as student learning, pedagogy, instructional practices, learning environments, and responsive programs with and for faculty/instructors.   I share that same reminder with you and encourage you to start new conversations with campus colleagues or perhaps even expand the breadth of issues you discuss with long-time partners.

I look forward to continuing the conversations with ELI and figuring out further ways to engage. I continue my liaison role for two more years, and I welcome your ideas and email any time.

Elizabeth A. Dupuis
Associate University Librarian for Educational Initiatives & User Services
Director of Doe, Moffitt, and the Subject Specialty Libraries
University of California, Berkeley
May 22, 2016