ACRL Plan for Excellence

 Approved April 20, 2011 - Effective July 1, 2011
Reaffirmed September 2013. Revised October 2017


The strengths and capacities of ACRL have enabled the association to sustain exemplary programs and results for its members and to shape policies and practices of vital interest to higher education.  ACRL’s Plan for Excellence continues that path and focuses attention on four areas that capitalize on our strengths, deliver high member value, and heighten our impact:

  • Value of Academic Libraries
  • Student Learning
  • Research and Scholarly Environment
  • New Roles and Changing Landscapes

These strategic areas will be supported by financial and operational planning, and will guide the development and implementation of programs and services that target education, advocacy and member engagement.
ACRL’s leadership views strategic thinking and planning as an ongoing process. Adoption of this plan for excellence affirms the general intent and direction articulated by the association’s core ideology, envisioned future, shorter-term goals, and objectives. Progress will be assessed annually and will guide the operational planning process. The plan for excellence will be updated based on achievement of the goals and their continued relevance as new needs and opportunities arise.

Timeless Core Ideology

Core Purpose

To lead academic and research librarians and libraries in advancing learning and scholarship.

Core Organizational Values

ACRL is committed to:

  • visionary leadership, transformation, new ideas, and global perspectives
  • exemplary service to members
  • equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • integrity and transparency
  • continuous learning
  • responsible stewardship of resources
  • the values of higher education, intellectual freedom, the ALA Ethics policy, and “The Library Bill of Rights

Long-term Envisioned Future


Academic and research librarians and libraries are essential to a thriving global community of learners and scholars.

Vivid Description of a Desired Future

ACRL elevates the position, recognition, and impact of all academic and research libraries and librarians as catalysts in exceptional research and learning. College and university students are information literate, informed scholars and citizens who value the opinions, perspectives, and experiences of others. Facile use of information sources and discovery techniques enables them to succeed in their coursework and future careers; preparing them to lead new national and global initiatives. Partnering with academic librarians to collect and organize research data, faculty break new ground in their respective fields. Academic libraries, constantly transforming to meet the evolving needs of their campuses, are central to educational and research efforts. Academic libraries are equitable communities that promote diversity by ensuring that every member feels they have a rightful place, is welcome and respected, and is supported in their intellectual dialogues and pursuits. Librarians and their colleagues design inclusive services that provide scholars and learners the unfettered ability to create, access, evaluate, and use knowledge on a global scale.

Five-Year Goals and Objectives

Value of Academic Libraries

Goal: Academic libraries demonstrate alignment with and impact on institutional outcomes.


  1. Cultivate research opportunities that communicate the impact of academic and research libraries in the higher education environment.
  2. Promote the impact and value of academic and research libraries to the higher education community.
  3. Expand professional development opportunities for assessment and advocacy of the contributions towards impact of academic libraries.
  4. Support libraries in articulating their role in advancing issues of equity, access, diversity, and inclusion in higher education.

Student Learning

Goal: Advance innovative practices and environments that transform student learning.


  1. Challenge librarians and libraries to engage learners with information literacy skills in a way that is scalable and sustainable.
  2. Increase the impact of information literacy by forming strategic partnerships with relevant higher education organizations.
  3. Build capacity for librarians to collaborate with faculty and other campus partners in instructional  and curricular design and delivery that will integrate information literacy into student learning.
  4. Articulate and advocate for the role of librarians in setting, achieving, and measuring institutional student learning outcomes.

Research and Scholarly Environment

Goal: The academic and research library workforce accelerates the transition to more open and equitable systems of scholarship.


  1. Increase the ways ACRL is an advocate and model for open dissemination and evaluation practices.
  2. Enhance members’ capacity to address issues related to scholarly communication, including but not limited to data management, library publishing, open access, and digital scholarship.
  3. Increase ACRL’s efforts to influence scholarly publishing policies and practices toward a more open and equitable system.

New Roles and Changing Landscapes

Goal: Academic and research library workforce effectively navigates change in higher education environments.


  1. Deepen ACRL’s advocacy and support for a full range of information professionals. 
  2. Equip library workforce at all levels to effectively lead, manage, and embrace change. 
  3. Expand ACRL’s role as a catalyst for transformational change in higher education.