ACRL Consulting Services

Is your library well positioned to leverage its services, programs, and resources at your institution? Are you thinking creatively and planning strategically to innovate and advance your library’s role on campus?

ACRL can help your library prepare for a dynamic, positive, and successful future through our consulting and facilitation services. Delivered by a knowledgeable, experienced team of consultants, ACRL Consulting Services works with you to design and assist with library reviews and planning activities, organizational change and development initiatives, staff retreats, and campus collaborations.

"Whether it’s strategic planning, creating collaborative staff environments, or developing strategies for implementing the ACRL Standards for Libraries in Higher Education, ACRL consultants bring a high level of expertise and a neutral point of view to facilitate change. " - ACRL Consulting Client

Our Approach: ACRL sees its consulting services as a collaborative and helping relationship, not a prescriptive relationship. We work in conversation and dialogue with you to understand your needs. We don’t tell organizations what to do and, while we may offer suggestions and recommendations, we believe that people most likely commit to that which they create themselves.

Services and Projects

Photo of flipchart with text

ACRL consultants provide expert advice and facilitation. We work closely with academic institutions to:

  • conduct external library reviews
  • prepare library staff for accreditation
  • review library internal self-study reports
  • design and assist with strategic thinking and planning activities, including environmental scanning
  • apply the ACRL Standards for Libraries in Higher Education to review, develop, and enhance services, programs, resources, and organizational practices
  • use ACRLMetrics for strategic planning and benchmarking, including peer and aspirant comparisons
  • develop director and other administrative staff search processes and approaches
  • facilitate meetings and events, including:
    • library staff retreats
    • leadership team development
    • strategy sessions on leading and managing change
    • initiatives to enhance organization effectiveness
    • focus groups and roundtable discussions with stakeholders
    • partnership meetings with external campus groups

Visit our project overviews page for descriptions and examples of a few of the services ACRL consultants provide to help academic libraries grow and succeed.

Meet ACRL's Consultants

karen brown photoKaren Brown brings over 30 years of experience in higher education and academic libraries to the ACRL Consulting Services Program as Manager ACRL Consulting Services. She is a frequent facilitator of the ACRL Assessment in Action Roadshow Workshop and serves as one of ACRL’s adjunct consultants. Her article on library leadership and change, co-authored with Kate Marek, “Librarianship and Change: A Consideration of Weick’s ‘Drop Your Tool’ Metaphor,” received the 2005 ALA Library Administration and Management Association’s Outstanding Researchers Award. Karen is a professor at Dominican University (River Forest, Illinois) in the School of Information Studies and teaches in the areas of assessment, collection management, foundations of the profession, and literacy and learning. She has held positions focusing on administration, collection development, reference, and instruction at the University of Wisconsin, University of Maryland, Columbia University, and Bard College. She holds a PhD in media ecology from New York University and master’s degrees in library science and adult education from the University of Wisconsin.
kara malenfant photoKara Malenfant is Senior Strategist for Special Initiatives at ACRL where she coordinates government relations advocacy, scholarly communication activities, ACRL's Value of Academic Libraries initiative, and co-leads the ACRL Consulting Services Program. In her consulting role, Kara brings expertise in leadership, change, futures thinking, and scenario development. Her 2010 case study about organizational change was chosen as one of seven landmark articles published in the leading scholarly journal College and Research Libraries over its 75 year history. Prior to coming to ACRL in 2005, Kara was an academic librarian for 6 years and worked in the international humanitarian aid sector. She earned a Ph.D. in leadership and change from Antioch University and a M.S. in library and information science from the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign.

Karen, Kara, and our consulting team are here to collaborate with your library to develop custom plans and training for your unique institutional situations. Our consultants strive to help your library innovate for success.

"ACRL's consultants bring much to their role as consultants, derived from their own backgrounds in libraries of all sizes serving all manner of constituents, their ability to listen, see and encourage creative and strategic thinking, and a broad and international knowledge-base of library developments and trends." - ACRL Consulting Client

Read more about how to conduct an external library review in their recent chapter:

Malenfant, K. & Deiss, K. (2015). Successful external reviews: Process and practicalities. In  Reviewing the Academic Library: A Guide to Self-Study and External Review. E. Mitchell & M. Seiden, (Eds.). Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries.

"The role ACRL plays as the primary professional association for academic and research libraries adds an additional level of legitimacy to our initiatives for university administrators and other campus stakeholders. We are updating the Library’s Strategic Plan in the fall and I will be contacting ACRL again to assist us with the process." - ACRL Consulting Client


To learn more about our consulting services and to book our team for your library, contact ACRL at Organizational members of ACRL receive a discounted rate on consulting fees.

Watch a 1 hour recorded webcast to learn more about how ACRL can help your library prepare for a dynamic, positive, and successful future through its consulting and facilitation services. Hear from librarians who have used ACRL Consulting Services to enhance their library’s programs and collections on their campuses.

Play button iconConsulting Services for Academic Libraries
July 2, 2019