Q. How can ACRL help libraries demonstrate their value to and impact on their campuses, particularly to academic administrators and key stakeholders? Could you address this question in terms of metrics (inputs, outcomes, outputs, etc.)?

A. Again, I would turn to the ACRL Standards for Libraries in Higher Education as well as to the ACRL Value of Academic Libraries Report for some examples of the types of outcomes measures that can be used to demonstrate our value. These sources will present concrete and recent examples of demonstrable metrics. Examples include:

  • Determining how many faculty members and students based their decision to become a member of our particular academic community because of the resources available in the library;
  • Describing the impact information literacy sessions have had on the students success in particular courses. This can be done through a variety of means – including the use of standardized tests, or through having a research component in the course as a part of the course grade;
  • Detailing the extent to which faculty members express support for library workshops and instruction sessions; or
  • Providing evidence of grant support for faculty, received as a result of using or having access to the library resources.

The above are recent examples but in 1987 a case study at the University of Virginia determined that students who used books from the library reserve collection performed better in their courses than did students who did not use the library reserve collections (Self, 1987). Although we haven’t always made it public, we have always had the type of impact that we now need to demonstrate.

These are but a few ways in which the library can demonstrate its value. Others are suggested in the documents I mentioned and the workshops that ACRL has presented on the subjects can also provide guidance to our members.


Self, James. (1987). “Reserve Readings and Student Grades: Analysis of a Case Study,” Library and Information Science Research, 9: 29-40.