ACRL Consulting Services

Is your library embarking on the strategic planning process? Engaged in organizational change? Preparing for accreditation self-study? Holding retreats for administrative teams, departments, or all staff? ACRL can help you prepare for a vibrant and successful future through our consulting and facilitation services. Delivered by a knowledgeable experienced team, ACRL consulting services can help plan, design, and facilitate organization processes and events to help your library innovate, lead, and thrive as a partner in your campus community.

"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

Services and Projects

Photo of flipchart with textACRL consultants provide expert advice and facilitation on a wide variety of projects including external library reviews, director and other administrative staff searches, collaborations with external campus groups, and library staff retreats.

Additional services include:

  • Using the ACRL Standards for Libraries in Higher Education
  • Assisting with planning and executing a library program review
  • Preparing for accreditation
  • Thinking strategically and planning including environmental scanning
  • Leading and managing change and enhancing organizational effectiveness
  • Facilitating:
    • Retreats for leadership team development
    • Staff retreats and planning kickoff events
    • Departmental and other stakeholder meetings
    • Focus groups

Visit our project overviews page for detailed samples of a few of the services ACRL consultants provide to help your library grow and succeed.

"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

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.


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.