Post 3: Nine Principles of the 2011 ACRL Standards for Libraries in Higher Education

The 2011 Standards are grounded in nine Principles, which reflect the core roles and contributions of libraries and were distilled from relevant higher education, accreditation, and professional documents.  A list of the sources consulted which influenced the development of the Principles can be found in Appendix 3 of the draft 2011 Standards.


Institutional Effectiveness: Libraries define, develop, and measure outcomes that contribute to institutional effectiveness and apply findings for purposes of continuous improvement.

Professional Values: Libraries advance professional values of intellectual freedom, intellectual property rights and values, patron privacy and confidentiality, and user-centered service.

Educational Role: Libraries partner in the educational mission of the institution to develop and support information literate learners who can discover, access, and use information effectively for academic success, research, and lifelong learning.

Discovery: Libraries enable users to discover information in all formats through effective use of technology and organization of knowledge.

Collections: Libraries provide access to collections sufficient in quality, depth, diversity, format and currency to support the research and teaching missions of the institution.

Space: Libraries are the intellectual commons where users interact with ideas in both physical and virtual environments to expand learning and facilitate the creation of new knowledge.

Management/Administration: Libraries engage in continuous planning and assessment to inform resource allocation and to meet their mission effectively and efficiently.

Personnel: Libraries provide sufficient number and quality of personnel to ensure excellence and to function successfully in an environment of continuous change.

External Relations: Libraries engage the campus and broader community through multiple strategies in order to advocate, educate, and promote their value.

Please give us your feedback on these Principles. Are they sufficiently comprehensive? Have we overlooked a key principle or two? Do these Principles adequately reflect the core roles and contributions of your library?

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5 Responses to Post 3: Nine Principles of the 2011 ACRL Standards for Libraries in Higher Education

  1. Preservation is a core role and contribution of libraries. Academic libraries in particular do a number of things to ensure long-term access to the scholarly and cultural record. Performance indicators could include (1) collecting and curating local materials in a variety of formats to advance the teaching, research, and administrative needs of an institution and (2) partnering with others (e.g., library consortia) to ensure long-term access to widely replicated content. Outcomes could include (1) unique educational and research opportunities for students and faculty and (2) support of administrative operations and projects.

    • Patricia Iannuzzi says:

      Thanks for articulating this issue so well. It would be helpful to hear if there are any libraries that do not engage in this sort of work. The task force debated if it was appropriate for community college libraries as well.

  2. Lori Smith says:

    I agree with Michael that Preservation is an important Principle to include. Although, I’m more concerned about the preservation of unique content rather than “widely replicated content.” I imagine even community college libraries might check WorldCat before weeding a book to make sure it wasn’t the last known copy.

    Another concept I don’t see explicitly mentioned in the draft is Cooperation. It’s really an over-riding concept that could be part of several of the other Principles, but I think it’s important to say that cooperation among those working at one institution, and between institutions is something that academic librarians value highly.

  3. Lois Oetken says:

    I appreciate all the work that has gone into this draft. One thing I see as missing is the quality of librarian/patron interaction. The assumption is that if personnel are qualified they are delivering quality service. That may or may not be the case. Suggestions:
    Library staff members (including student, technical and public services staff) are able to meet patron research and information needs promptly and courteously.

  4. Billy C. Beal says:

    I cannot identify how ACRL’s proposed revised standards align with the regional accreditation standards of the Southern Assocition of College and Schools (SACS). SACS Standards and Criteria are now barely a quarter of a page in length, your proposal is 21 pages long. While filled with useful information, the length of ACRL Standards suggests they are disconnected from reality.

    “… full library intergration into the academic endeavor; a move away from a separate library standard within the overall accreditation standard…” is perhaps the reality of the last 10 years of regional accreditation trends for academic libraries, a trend controlled by the presidents, academic, and financial officers of colleges and universities who also controll the regional accreditation agencies. It reflects the reality of those academic administrators wishing to relive themselves of the burden of quantitatve evaluation tools, which so frequently led to recommendations requiring them to improve libary services, budgets and personel. The appendix on library metrics, which you have included almost as a footnote, seem to be a usfeul tool but has very litttle meaning anymore for regional standards as the regional standards just like the ACRL ones are divorced from quantitative measures.

    A decade ago when SACS revised its standard for libraries, community college librarians assumed we could at least have the ACRL Standards for Community, Junior and Technical College Libraries to fall back on, only to find out that ACRL-CJCLS agreed to merge its standards in to the general ACRL Standards, for Academic Libraries, which like the regional groups abandoned quantitative criteria in favor of “student learning outcomes.” If your new proposal has any worth it is perhaps as a tool for defining learning outcomes in a college library setting. We were all left in a quandry 10 years ago when Regional and ALA Standards provided us with very little knowledge of how to evaluate ourselves -be it services, material, professional competiencies, or bibliographic instruction.

    I can’t see how this committee has any grasp of the reality of day-to-day accreditation issues and how they relate to improving libaray service, since your biblography did not list any of the regional accrediting agency Stardard and Criteria as resources from which your committee formulated these newly proposed ACRL Standards of College and Univeristy Libraries. I do note that the committee listed the names and address of the regional accrediting agencies. Theses standards and criteria were not listed in the working bibliography.