Academic Library Impact Research Grants

Note: As of spring 2020, this program has been suspended.

Call for Proposals 2019

In 2019 the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) will offer grants of up to $3,000 for new research in areas suggested by ACRL’s 2017 report Academic Library Impact: Improving Practice and Essential Areas to Research (prepared for ACRL by OCLC Research and available for download or purchase). This program is one of several developed by ACRL’s Value of Academic Libraries (VAL) Committee to support librarians in their efforts to demonstrate the impact of their work to a wider audience.

ACRL invites applications from librarians and information professionals seeking to conduct research that will demonstrate library contributions to student learning and success. The proposed project should aim to build on the foundations of the Academic Library Impact report and fill gaps in existing literature. The committee invites applicants to propose using any investigative methods appropriate to their research questions. These include but are not limited to standard quantitative and qualitative approaches, as well as critical evaluations, case studies, reflective essays, and (auto)ethnography. Proposals that involve collaboration between librarians and other higher education stakeholders, such as institutional researchers, faculty, administration, students, or community partners are also welcome.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. Central Time on Thursday, April 25, 2019. All applicants will be notified of their status by Thursday, June 13, 2019. Grant funds will be disbursed within one month following completion of an agreement form.

It is anticipated that future calls for proposals will be issued in the coming years.


Each applicant must be a member of ACRL and employed as a librarian or information professional in a university, college, community college, or research library at the time of application for the grant.

Grants should not be sought for tuition or other degree-related expenses.

Application Instructions

The application coversheet is available to download here. Please fill it out, save it, and combine it into a single PDF with the other documents detailed below.

The application should be submitted by the principal investigator or project lead. It should include:

1) A completed cover sheet (use the application form provided) with your name, contact information, ACRL membership information, and, if applicable, names and contact details of collaborators.

2) Your CV or résumé.

3) A brief abstract of the project (maximum 200 words).

4) Proposed budget, using the worksheet provided (download .docx file). The research budget should total no more than $3,000, unless additional funding has been secured. The budget should itemize costs related to carrying out the proposed research. Possible budget items include: wages for personnel, travel for work on the project, research tools and materials, and technology services.

a. Indicate whether you have applied for or received any other funding for this project. No additional financial commitments by the institution are required, but they will be weighed in the evaluation of the proposal.
b. Costs related to dissemination (conference travel, etc.) should not be part of the budget. All 2019 grant recipients will be eligible to receive reimbursement for up to an additional $1500 in dissemination costs to present on their research in an approved venue. To access these funds, recipients will need to submit a brief plan to ACRL outlining the dissemination venue and rationale for choosing it, along with an itemized budget. If approved, ACRL will issue a reimbursement for these costs. Dissemination funds may not be used for presentations at ACRL or ALA sponsored events. This additional funding must be expended by August 31, 2020. More information is in the frequently asked questions; details on the process and timing to request this additional funding will be provided to grant recipients.

5) A project proposal (maximum 1000 words), following the guidelines outlined below.

Proposal Requirements

The proposal should include:

1) Statement of the research objectives and question(s): These should align with at least one of the six priority areas identified in the Academic Library Impact report. Critical perspectives are welcome. The committee would particularly encourage work related to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

2) Methodology and analysis strategy for answering the question(s): Identify the methods that will be used, why they are appropriate for addressing the research question(s), and how the results will be assessed.

a. Explain any ethical considerations including how you will protect the rights of participants in your research, if applicable. If your research may be subject to an IRB, address that process here.

3) Planned research activities: This section should contain a detailed description of how the research project will be organized and implemented, including a timeline of activities. These activities should relate to the stated budget. It is expected that the project should be completed within 12 months, though dissemination of results may take longer.

a. If the proposed research constitutes a piece of a larger project, please address how the work funded by this grant fits in and what results will be achieved within the time allotted.
b. For collaborative projects, state how each team member will contribute. Team members may come from different institutions.

4) Expected outcomes and plans for dissemination: This section should describe plans for sharing the results of the project. Grant recipients are required to disseminate their research outputs in a form of their choosing. We strongly encourage that the chosen avenue of dissemination be open access and that it reach a wide audience of stakeholders within higher education.

a. Possibilities include: a conference presentation, a peer-reviewed article, a book or book chapter, a webinar, or a digital project.
b. In any publication or presentation of results, the grantee should acknowledge that support for the project came from ACRL.
c. As stated above, grant recipients will be eligible to apply for an additional $1500 to cover dissemination costs. Those funds may not be used for a conference sponsored by ACRL or ALA.

5) Benefit of this research: Articulate the significance of this research project in advancing the role of academic libraries within your institution and the wider higher education landscape. 

Application Submission

The deadline for receipt of completed applications is 5 p.m. Central Time on April 25, 2019.

Electronic submissions are required. Email a single PDF file of all required documents to Sara Goek,

Applicants will receive notice of the status of their research grant applications by June 13, 2019, and funds will be disbursed to recipients’ institutions within one month following completion of an agreement form. 


A subcommittee of members from the VAL Committee will review proposals. In selecting recipients, they will have the following criteria in mind and will seek balance across research questions and institutions.

  • Need for support: Is this monetary support necessary for this research to be undertaken? Is the proposed research original enough to justify funding?
  • Need for research: Will this research help fill an existing gap in the literature? Does it investigate or provide new ways of thinking about the impact of academic libraries? Are the ideas well-conceived, developed, and articulated?
  • Project design: Is the proposed project clear and intriguing? Will the proposed methodology enable effective research? Is it feasible within the proposed timeframe and budget? Are the proposed outcomes realistic?
  • Alignment with objectives: How well does the proposed project align with the priority areas suggested in the Academic Library Impact Report? How well does it align with the Value of Academic Library goals and objectives as stated in ACRL's strategic plan? If this research takes a critical perspective, does the proposal explain how it will further debate in the field and deepen our understanding? If this research addresses issues related to equity, diversity, and inclusion, does it align with ACRL's Core Commitment as stated in the strategic plan?


Researchers should expect to provide evidence of the progress and outcomes of their work. Grant recipients must:

  1. Complete and sign an agreement form for funds to be disbursed.
  2. Report on the progress of their research six months into the project.
  3. Disseminate their results within one year of completion.
  4. Provide ACRL with a summary of the research results that may be disseminated online, for example as part of a blog post or other update to the community.
  5. Acknowledge ACRL’s support in any publication or presentation resulting from this research.

Further Information

Resources on designing and conducting research are available on ALA’s LARKS webpage.

See the application frequently asked questions for more details on this program. ACRL offered a free webinar Q&A session on these grants and the application process in 2018, and the recording can be viewed here. In addition, ACRL offered a free webinar on Monday, February 4, 2019 titled “Academic Library Impact: Strategies for Designing New Research”. It focused on effectively utilizing the report in the research development process; view a recording here.

Information on the 2018 recipients is available from ACRL Insider. A few recipients participated in a session at ALA Midwinter 2019; view a recording in the scheduler (ALA login required). Representatives from all the 2018 project teams will also be participating in a session at the ACRL 2019 Conference titled, “Academic Library Impact: New Research from ACRL Grant Recipients” (Thursday, April 11 at 9:40am).


If your questions are not answered on the website, please contact ACRL Program Manager and Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow Sara Goek at: or 312-280-5841.