Introducing the New ACRL Annual Survey – Opens September 18

Since 1999 the ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey has gathered statistics at the national level from all types of academic libraries in the United States and Canada.  The survey is developed and overseen by the ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Editorial Board. Earlier this year, the ACRL Board approved a recommendation from the Editorial Board that ACRL create and administer its own survey instrument to make it more relevant and responsive to the needs of academic libraries. Formerly, ACRL had been using the Association of Research Libraries survey instrument with permission. Following a ten-month development process involving scores of librarians and opportunities for review and feedback, the ACRL Annual Survey has been overhauled and will open on September 18, 2015, to collect data for the 2015 fiscal year. Fiscal year 2015 is defined as the most recent 12-month period that ends before October 1, 2015.

Survey Objectives

The ACRL Library Trends and Statistics Survey has three objectives: efficiency, timeliness, and relevance. The new survey saves time by collecting responses for two surveys. The ACRL Survey includes questions that are part of the new IPEDS Academic Libraries (AL) component which all schools are required to complete if they receive federal student aid funds.  Survey participants may download a file which can then be used to upload the required IPEDS responses by the institutional keyholder or the library if designated by the institutional keyholder as an IPEDS user. The survey responses will be available for use within months of the closing date April 30, 2016.  ACRL expects to publish the survey results at least 12 to 18 months before the Academic Library component data is available through IPEDS.  A third objective is relevance: by restoring measures formerly collected through the biennial NCES Academic Library Survey (ALS) (discontinued after 2012), academic libraries will continue to have access to data that will greatly facilitate benchmarking and best practices studies.

What’s New in 2015?

There are new questions on institutional repositories, expenditures for e-books, and e-journal usage. There is a revised definition for library consultations with individuals.  The survey also restores some NCES Academic Library Survey questions including gate count and hours of operation, both used by many libraries for peer and aspirant benchmarking and best practices.  Many of the definitions are based upon NISO Z39.7-2013 and include the IPEDS Academic Library component definitions which were revised this summer.

The ACRL Annual Survey also asks if there are other data elements you would like to suggest for consideration in future annual surveys.  We need and want your suggestions for additional questions, improvements to definitions, and future trends to explore.

Importance of Participation

While the IPEDS Academic Library component is mandatory for all higher education institutions, it is important to participate in the ACRL annual survey. Why? First, the IPEDS Academic Library component is an institutional survey rather than a library survey. For example, the library staffing information collected by IPEDS’ Human Resources (HR) component utilizes very broad library staffing definitions based on the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The SOC classifications do not consider education level attainment (e.g., masters degree) so it is difficult to get an accurate of the number of professional librarians. Additionally, the HR component collects headcounts rather than full-time equivalents.  The ACRL survey will provide data more detailed data on library staff, gate counts and hours of operation as well as details concerning interlibrary loan transactions.

ARL Participation Encouraged

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) will continue its annual survey.  ARL members are encouraged to complete the ACRL annual survey as well to take advantage of the direct alignment with the IPEDS Academic Library component.

The value of the survey data is enhanced by the participation of all libraries representing all Carnegie classifications, and ACRL requests your assistance in this endeavor.   Increasingly, academic libraries are expected to support their funding and program requests with data.  By participating in the 2015 survey, you are providing the profession with timely data that will inform management decisions, facilitate comparisons through benchmarking within peer groups, and help to document value.

2015 Survey Form and Instructions

The ACRL Annual Survey form, instructions, and trend questions are available online:

Additional Information

For more information on the IPEDS Academic Libraries component, please see: (scroll to the very bottom).