ACRL Consulting Services - Project Overviews

Every library and its campus setting are unique, and we tailor our services to address your library’s particular needs and budget. The following sample project descriptions provide an overview of some of the ways we might work with your library.

External Review of the Library

Photo of post-its on tableACRL conducts external library reviews that are not part of a cyclical program review process where a self-study has been completed. For this type of review, two consultants study background materials and conduct a one-day site visit. While on campus, the consultants interview a wide variety of individuals and meet with groups to learn how the library is meeting the needs of the college or university community. They conduct benchmarking comparisons against peers on key data points to determine how an institution is performing with respect to similar schools. Using the ACRL Standards for Libraries in Higher Education as a framework, the consultants analyze their findings and prepare a report of 15-20 pages that focuses on areas of strength, areas for growth and improvement, and specific recommendations. Sample project fee: $9,500, plus travel.

"The consultant team from ACRL provided us with a thorough analysis of our library’s potential, but even more importantly gave us ideas that we can act on immediately. I find myself referring to their report almost every week as we plan new programs and initiatives." - Catherine Kelley, Ph.D., Associate Provost for Educational Resources and Assessment, Fairleigh Dickinson University

Read more conducting an external library review in: 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.

Review and Feedback of Internal Library Self-Studies

Academic libraries are frequently tasked with conducting an internal self-study as part of an accreditation or institutional program review process. If your library is preparing a self-study report, an ACRL consultant can review the report before its final submission and provide recommendations for strengthening it. The consultant will deliver a 3-4 page document that addresses the library’s use of appropriate standards; assessment of services, programs, and collections in meeting institutional needs; measures of service performance and organization effectiveness; and documentation of contributions to the institution’s mission and priorities. Sample project fee: $3000.

Learn about strategies and resources for self-studies: 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, 2015.

Library Staff Retreat

Photo of group at workshopA retreat that brings together all librarians and library staff members for strategic thinking and planning can provide your library with an effective, highly participatory staff kickoff to a planning effort. One or two ACRL consultants will design a set of planning activities and facilitate a one-day retreat to identify strengths and opportunities for the library and begin to articulate a desired future and a set of strategic directions. This type of retreat helps to ensure that each member of the library contributes to the initial planning process, and it sets the stage for a smaller staff group to continue the planning work. The consulting project may include an additional half-day guided discussion with the designated planning group or library administrators to create a process to carry out their planning work. Sample project fee for two consultants: $10,000, plus travel.

"ACRL consultants Kathryn Deiss and Kara Malenfant are a fabulous resource for any library or library director seeking to engage in a library strategic planning process. . .  At Hampshire, Deiss and Malenfant helped design and facilitate a process that was inclusive and effective and perhaps most importantly, one that was accessible and energizing to all library staff." - Jennifer Gunter King, Director of the Library, Hampshire College

Search for Library Director or Dean

The search for a new library dean or director should be grounded in sufficient information about the library and aspects of the campus community that would be attractive to prospective candidates. To help a college or university prepare for and carry out a successful search, two consultants review the proposed search approach and process (e.g., job ad, committee makeup, interview questions, etc.) and conduct a one-day site visit. While on campus, the consultants interview a variety of individuals and groups to identify the unique opportunities of the position, features of the institution that will draw qualified candidates, and the campus community’s expectations and desired qualities of a new library leader. They deliver a report of approximately 15 pages that synthesizes their findings and provides specific recommendations for attracting a quality pool of applicants. Sample project fee: $8,000 (two consultants), plus travel.

Soliciting Input from Campus Stakeholders

Photo of group at workshopACRL can work with you to design and facilitate a process that generates critical input from campus stakeholders and constituent groups about a topic or issue of great import to the library. In a half-day session, for example, one consultant develops a process and facilitates roundtable discussions (or conducts a focus group) among librarians and campus stakeholders. The information gathered provides the library with a deeper understanding of campus stakeholders’ perspectives, priorities, and needs that may feed into strategic planning, partnership development, and communication strategies. The consultant prepares a 3-page report that summarizes themes that emerged from the discussion(s) and provides suggestions for using the results to inform library planning efforts. Sample project fee: $2,500, plus travel.

"Northeastern Illinois University recently engaged Kara Malenfant, Senior Strategist for Special Initiatives for ACRL, to create and facilitate a visioning program in our library as part of the University’s Innovation Roundtable series. ACRL had provided the Library with similar services in the past and I felt that they were the perfect choice for our program. Intended as a “kickoff” for our master space plan the event managed to generate the necessary discussion to begin engaging the library staff and our campus in this initiative. The report written by Ms. Malenfant also provided me with the necessary document in support of our Roundtable and additional rationale for our space plan. Whether it’s strategic planning, creating collaborative staff environments or developing strategies for implementing the ACRL Standards for Libraries in Higher Education, I believe that ACRL brings a high level of expertise and a neutral point of view to facilitate change. The role they play as the primary professional association for academic libraries also 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." - Carlos Melian, Dean of Libraries and Learning Resources, Northeastern Illinois University

ACRL consultants can also work with your library to plan and facilitate retreats that engage staff in reflection, discussion, and planning on a wide variety of topics, including undertaking a large-scale change management initiative, leadership development, and organizational effectiveness.


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.