ARL, ACRL, ALA Form Joint Advisory Task Force to Clarify Academic Library Definitions in IPEDS Survey

ACRL and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) have formed a joint advisory task force to suggest changes to the current definitions and instructions accompanying the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Academic Libraries Component for FY 2015. The ARL/ACRL task force will work to provide formal recommendations to IPEDS by early July 2015. The task force will offer virtual opportunities to engage and inform the larger community of this work.

Since October 2014 the IPEDS Academic Libraries Component coordinator, Bao Le, has been monitoring questions and discussions on the ARL-Assess e-mail list and working with Robert Dugan, chair of the ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey Editorial Board and dean of libraries at University of West Florida. Dugan has also developed and maintains a LibGuide that serves as an unofficial FAQ regarding the IPEDS Academic Libraries Component. David Larsen and Elizabeth Edwards of University of Chicago offered analysis of the IPEDS survey challenges during the ARL Library Assessment Forum at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting this January. A video of their presentation is available on the ARL YouTube channel (starting at 49:58 “IPEDS: Academic Libraries Component”).

ARL and ACRL are providing leadership by establishing a task force to formalize the advice offered by the academic library community and to ensure that advice is communicated to the IPEDS Academic Libraries coordinator.

“It is important to develop a robust national survey form useful to all types of academic libraries and in sync with national and international standards,” said Mary Ellen Davis, ACRL executive director.

ARL executive director Elliott Shore called for “taking a collaborative approach to shared understandings of academic libraries and their work, being cost effective and efficient as we streamline this effort to improve our national education statistics, and leveraging our collective wisdom in developing guidance for the community.”

Historically the US National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) collected academic library statistics as part of the library statistics program every two years with National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) oversight so that all library sectors were included (academic, public, state library agencies and school libraries).  Due to the closure of NCLIS in 2008 and reorganization within NCES, the public and state library statistics of NCES were transferred to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) while the academic and school library statistics remained with NCES.  The Academic Libraries Survey (ALS) was moved into the IPEDS data collection system and underwent major revisions. The new Academic Libraries Component became part of the annual IPEDS data collection activities, beginning with FY 2014.

Members of the ARL/ACRL Joint Advisory Task Force on the IPEDS Academic Libraries Component include:


Robert Dugan, Chair of the ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey Editorial Board; University of West Florida;

Robert Fox, Chair of the ARL Assessment Committee; University of Louisville;


Elizabeth Edwards, University of Chicago,

Terri Fishel, Macalester College,

Steve Hiller, University of Washington,

Martha Kyrillidou, Association of Research Libraries; Chair of the NISO Z39.7 Data Dictionary;

David Larsen, University of Chicago,

Bao Le, National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS Academic Libraries Contact,

Bede Mitchell, Georgia Southern University,

Kenley Neufeld, Santa Barbara City College,

Mary Jane Petrowski, Association of College & Research Libraries,

Kathy Rosa, Office of Research & Statistics, American Library Association,

For more information, contact Martha Kyrillidou, Senior Director of ARL Statistics and Service Quality Programs, at 202-296-2296 or, or ACRL Associate Director Mary Jane Petrowski at 312-280-2523 or