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Association of Research Libraries (ARL®)

  Statistics & Assessment Contact:
Lee Anne George

SPEC Surveys

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SPEC Survey Distribution

ARL gathers data from its member libraries in a variety of ways. The two most prominent methods are the annual statistical compilations conducted by the ARL Statistics and Assessment program and the SPEC surveys. Six SPEC surveys are distributed annually to ARL member libraries via this ARL Web page. Each member library has a designated SPEC Survey Liaison who coordinates distribution of the surveys to the relevant person in the library and tracks survey responses.

2012 SPEC Surveys

SPEC Survey on Organization of Scholarly Communication Services

ARL has been a leader in advocating the development of innovative systems that offer barrier-free access to scholarly information and member libraries have developed a variety of initiatives to educate researchers on scholarly communication issues. These libraries have also developed services to support scholarly communication activities in their institutions that range from hosting and publishing electronic journals to administering open access publishing funds to providing support for data mining, visualization, and curation.

The purpose of this survey is to explore how research institutions are currently organizing staff to support scholarly communication services, and whether their organizational structures have changed since 2007.

This survey was designed by Rachel Radom, Instructional Services Librarian for Undergraduate Programs, Melanie Feltner-Reichert, Interim Head of Scholarly Communication, and kynita stringer-stanback, 2010–2012 Diversity Resident Librarian, at the University of Tennessee.

Survey posted May 14, 2012.

Survey deadline is June 4, 2012.

SPEC Survey on Art & Artifact Management

Research libraries and their parent institutions are increasingly highlighting special collections as the unique holdings that differentiate libraries from one another. Often these collections of distinction contain art works, historical artifacts, and other objects that are neither published works nor archival collections. Without clear protocols for management of these collections, libraries have adopted a range of practices to ensure intellectual and physical control of these materials.

The purpose of this survey is to examine the extent to which art and artifact collections are held in ARL member libraries and the tools and techniques libraries have adopted to arrange and describe these objects.

This survey was designed by Morag Boyd, Head, Special Collections Cataloging, and Jenny Robb, curator, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, at the Ohio State University.

Survey posted April 16, 2012.

This survey is now closed.

SPEC Survey on Library Contribution to Accreditation

Libraries conduct assessment exercises for a number of reasons, including improvement of practice, service alignment with community needs, fiscal responsibility, and improved customer satisfaction. Increasingly, and more fervently, academic libraries are also called upon to demonstrate their value and contributions to student learning outcomes. This is especially true when libraries participate in institutional accreditation or reaccreditation reporting, strategic continuous improvement processes, and quality enhancement plans.

The purpose of this survey is to identify the scope of accreditation standards and requirements from accrediting organizations, and to demonstrate how libraries are contributing to their institutions’ successful accreditation and reaccreditation.

This survey was designed by Holly Mercer, Associate Dean, Scholarly Communication and Research Services, University of Tennessee, and Michael Maciel, Assessment Coordinator, Texas A&M University.

Survey posted March 26, 2012.

This survey is now closed.

SPEC Survey on the Changing Role of Senior Administrators

In 2000, SPEC Kit 256 The Changing Roles of Library Professionals examined how job descriptions had been redesigned to address technological advances, changes in libraries’ focus, and redefined institutional goals. The environment continues to change for libraries and the users they serve, and research libraries are implementing strategies to ensure their workforce has the skills and competencies to further the mission of their libraries and institutions. To support these efforts, ARL is focusing on the “next generation” workforce and the new skills required to design and manage the 21st century research library.

The survey explores the responsibilities of the professional, administrative, and management positions that report directly to the library director (or in some ARL member libraries the position that serves as the representative to the association), and the skills, qualifications, and competencies necessary for these administrators to successfully lead a transforming 21st century research library. It looks at whether and how position requirements have changed in the past decade, whether the number of direct reports has changed, whether these administrators have assumed new areas of organizational responsibility, and how they acquire the new skills to fulfill those responsibilities. The survey authors will mine the submitted job descriptions, organization charts, and other documents for details on how the role of these positions have changed.

This survey was designed by Julie Garrison, Associate Dean for Research and Instructional Services, Grand Valley State University, Kathleen DeLong, Associate University Librarian for Human Resources and Teaching/Learning at the University of Alberta, and Marianne Ryan, Associate University Librarian for Public Services at Northwestern University.

Survey posted March 12, 2012.

This survey is now closed.

SPEC Survey on Managing Born Digital Special Collections and Archival Materials

The 2010 OCLC Research report, Taking Our Pulse, listed management of born digital materials as the biggest challenge facing libraries, special collections, and archives, after space and facilities concerns. Over the last decade the materials acquired for our libraries, archives, and manuscript collections were very likely created as digital objects that may or may not have analog surrogates. If modern special collections and archives are to stay relevant and continue to provide access to unique and authentic records, ARL libraries need to manage and preserve born digital materials, which for the purposes of this survey include institutional records, author’s drafts on floppy discs, digital photographs and moving images, and electronic theses and dissertations, among others. It excludes commercial products such as e-journals.

This survey explores the tools, workflow, and policies special collections and archives staff use to process, manage, and provide access to born digital materials they collect. It also looks at which staff process and manage born digital materials and how they acquire the skills they need for these activities, and how libraries have responded to the challenges that managing born digital materials present.

This survey was designed by Naomi Nelson, Director of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and Seth Shaw, Electronic Records Archivist, at Duke University; Cynthia Ghering, director of the University Archives and Historical Collections, and Lisa Schmidt, Electronic Records Archivist, at Michigan State University; Michelle Belden, Access Archivist and IT Coordinator for the Special Collections Library, Jackie R. Esposito, University Archivist and Head, Records Management Services, and Tim Pyatt, Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair and Head of the Eberly Family Special Collections Library, at Pennsylvania State University; and Nancy Deromedi, head of the Digital Curation division, and Michael Shallcross, Assistant Archivist, in the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.

Survey posted February 22, 2012.

This survey is now closed.

SPEC Survey on Collaborative Teaching and Learning Tools

Recent library literature emphasizes the increase in technologically savvy library users and the development of “information commons” or “collaboration labs” to serve them. However, little has emerged to give insight on the details of offering complex and technologically advanced collaborative teaching and learning tools, such as interactive whiteboards, to library users. The ability of a library to offer such equipment carries with it a large learning curve, for both users and library staff, along with financial and technical support issues.

This survey is designed to gather information about what collaborative teaching and learning tools are currently being offered to users in ARL member libraries. It covers questions on which kinds of tools are offered, how many, and why, where they are located, who may use them, the sources of funding, who provides training and support, and what techniques are used to promote and evaluate the tools.

This survey was designed by Marilyn N. Ochoa, Assistant Head of the Education Library, and Thomas Caswell, Associate University Librarian, Architecture and Fine Arts Library, at the University of Florida.

Survey posted February 6, 2012.

This survey is now closed.