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 rti.org 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