Post 2: Introducing the 2011 ACRL Standards for Libraries in Higher Education

The 2011 ACRL draft Standards for Libraries in Higher Education (Standards) are designed to guide academic libraries in advancing and sustaining their role as partners in educating students, achieving their institutions’ missions, and positioning libraries as leaders in assessment and continuous improvement on their campuses. Libraries must demonstrate their value and document their contributions to overall institutional effectiveness and be prepared to address changes in higher education. These Standards were developed through study and consideration of new and emerging issues and trends in libraries, higher education, and accrediting practices.

These Standards differ from previous versions by articulating expectations for library contributions to institutional effectiveness. These Standards differ structurally by providing a comprehensive framework using an outcomes-based approach, with evidence collected in ways most appropriate for each institution.

Text: Introduction/ Sources Consulted/ Structure/ Adoption (PDF)

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3 Responses to Post 2: Introducing the 2011 ACRL Standards for Libraries in Higher Education

  1. Cynthia Davis says:

    In the Standards Structure #3, there is a sentence “Add performance indicators that apply to the specific library type (for example, open access
    initiatives for research libraries, or GED support for community colleges)”. As a community college librarian, I do feel a different example would be more accurate of today’s community colleges than using “GED support”. Most people identify GED with the GED test and high school graduate equivalency diploma, even though the use of GED in this section may just mean “general educational development”. I would suggest as a substitute, “or general education and workforce curriculum support” for an example. Also, “Open access issues” can be found in community college libraries.

  2. J. L. Woo says:

    In my view outcomes-based assessment is a flawed approach to standards development for these reasons:
    a. Collecting outcomes data evidencing how “library users are changed” is in most cases difficult if not impossible, especially if your library doesn’t have staff assigned to carry out longitudinal research projects.
    b. Most of the sample outcomes provided cannot be shown to have a causal connection to the performance indicator activity. What student would not want to “self-rate their academic performance as having improved from freshman to senior”? Whether or not the library played a role in this self-perception would be very difficult to prove.
    c. Incorporating outcomes into the standards seems to have resulted in principles framed to support a set of actions to be performed, rather than principles that express the fundamental goals, values, and ideas that guide our profession. One also suspects the surfeit of qualifiers (effective, efficient, sufficient, successful) are present to provide a basis for assessment, but it ends up sounding more like wishful thinking than standards on which to run our libraries.

  3. Grace Veach says:

    I agree with J. L. Woo.

    Also let’s look at the first example of sample outcomes:
    Here are examples of four possible outcomes for Performance Indicator 3.1 “Library personnel
    collaborate with campus partners to provide opportunities for faculty professional development.”
    Faculty integrate collaboration with libraries into their best practices.
    Faculty participate in library-involved professional development.
    Faculty translate library-involved professional development into assignments that incorporate library
    Faculty recognize the importance of information literacy.

    All of these outcomes are dependent on faculty. Yet we have no control over faculty or what they do. And in most cases, our mission is not to educate faculty. How can we be expected to provide outcomes in areas where we have no control? It’s like the athletic dept. having an outcome that the faculty are in good physical shape.

    I realize that this is a “sample.” But I’d prefer a more realistic sample.