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Clarifications on Membership Criteria

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At its April 1984 meeting, the ARL Board of Directors discussed the following points related to consideration of new members.

Membership of a system v. an individual institution

The Board noted that there is no precedent for extending ARL membership to a system. Rather, system members have had to meet the criteria as individual institutions (e.g. University of California Berkeley, SUNY Albany, University of Wisconsin, Madison). The Board affirmed that ARL membership is intended to apply to individual institutions. The Statistics Committee had suggested that it might be possible to use the FICE number (for reporting to NCES) to help establish whether an applicant should be treated as a system or an individual institution.

Mr. Smith summarized the sense of the Board discussion as follows: applicants for ARL membership must qualify as individual institutions, as defined by the criteria in place. Use of duplicate undergraduate collections to meet volume counts, etc. is not appropriate.

Merged Institutions

The Board returned to its consideration of how soon after a merger oftwo or more previously separate academic institutions ARL would accept data from the “new” institution for a membership application; and what event in the merger process would mark the starting point for meeting the ARL membership criteria. Mr. Atkinson proposed that the starting point should be the appointment of a single chief executive for the institution’s libraries.

Mr. Smith noted that the membership criteria require a four-year record at a certain level. If two institutions that have been stable over a certain period of time merge, is the concern about future stability answered? If ARL insists on the four years, will it be honoring the letter but not the spirit of the criteria? Ms. Battin noted that in some circumstances one or both of the merging institutions might not be stable. It is not sure that the sum of two is greater than the parts: this must be proven by the new institution. But, Mr. Smith continued, if ARL wants to insure stability at a certain size, and if such stability is documented by two paths separately; one can assume it will continue. Ms. Woodsworth pointed out that this assumption is uncertain it is important to be sure the combination holds and functions as one unit. Mr. Atkinson added that four years should also discourage artificial volume counts.

The Board concluded that “merged” institutions will be eligible to apply for membership four years from date of the appointment of a single library director.

ARL Board of Directors
April 1984