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Association of Research Libraries (ARL®)

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Principles of Membership in the Association of Research Libraries

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The mission of the Association of Research Libraries is to “influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations." ARL is a not-for-profit membership organization comprising the libraries of North American research institutions and operates as a forum for the exchange of ideas and as an agent for collective action.

Membership in the Association of Research Libraries is necessarily limited to research institutions sharing common values, goals, interests, and needs. Single institutions, not systems, form the membership base.

A. The members of ARL are research libraries distinguished by the breadth and quality of their collections and services. Each member also makes distinctive contributions to the aggregation of research resources and services in North America.

B. Membership is based on the research nature of the library and the parent institution's aspirations and achievements as a research institution. The parent institution's aspirations and achievements are established by the classification Research Universities (high or very high) as reflected by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education (2005 revision) published by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, or by comparable affiliations or documentation.

C. Both qualitative and quantitative factors support the assessment of research libraries within the Association. A successful research library is distinguished by such characteristics as:

• sustained institutional commitment to the library over time (as evidenced by the nature and extent of resources allocated) and continuing investment that will support:

  • distinctive research-oriented collections and resources of national significance in a variety of media;

  • services to the scholarly community, including the availability of electronic resources;

• participation in national and/or international library-related programs

• the creation of bibliographic records and their availability on one of the major bibliographic networks;

• the use made of the collections and services by faculty, students, and visiting scholars;

• the preservation of research resources;

• the leadership and external contributions of the staff to the profession;

• the effective and innovative use of technology;

• the engagement and involvement of the library in academic planning and programs of the institution (e.g., development of new academic programs, participation in teaching, research grants or projects, level of development support, service on institutional committees, involvement in governance, etc.).

D. Once achieved, membership in the Association is presumed to be continuing unless the membership obligations are not met. Also, in those instances where there appears to be a significant and sustained disparity between the accomplishments of the member institution and these Principles, an in-depth review of that institution will be initiated.

Principles approved February 8, 2001 by the ARL Board.
Mission statement adopted February 10, 2006, and edited October 15, 2009, by the ARL Board.