ACRL explores the future of academic libraries

Contact: David Free
(312) 280-2517

For Immediate Release,
January 8, 2008

ACRL explores the future of academic libraries

CHICAGO - The 2007 environmental scan by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) explores the current atmosphere in the world of academic and research libraries along with trends that will define the future of academic and research librarianship and the research environment. The report is available online at

The document builds on earlier ACRL reports, including "Top Issues Facing Academic Libraries" (, issued in 2002, and the 2003 environmental scan. The 2007 environmental scan is organized around the ACRL's top-10 assumptions about the future of academic and research libraries and librarians (, first released in March 2007. This newly expanded narrative identifies several emerging issues, in addition to those detailed in the previously issued document, which will increasingly impact the work of academic and research libraries and librarians, including:

  • Broader collaboration among academic, public, special and school librarians on topics of common concern, such as public engagement and media literacy.
  • Library facilities and services growing increasingly integrated with research, teaching and learning programs across campus, including information technology and student services.
  • The increasing needs of e-science and e-scholarship in the social sciences and the humanities, requiring new approaches to the design and delivery of core library services.
  • Increasing collaboration between academic libraries and university publication programs as their roles become increasingly complementary.
  • The shifting focus for academic libraries from the creation and management of large, on-site library collections to the design and delivery of library services.
  • The tools and techniques of social computing providing new opportunities for the design and delivery of library resources and services but putting more of a burden on library staff and systems.

While much has changed in the academic and research library environment since the publication of the last ACRL environmental scan in 2003, many previously noted issues remain relevant to practice, such as the increasing role for librarians in educational programs, both formal and informal; the impact of digitization programs; changes in the publishing industry and the broader environment for scholarly communication; new approaches to research, teaching and learning on campus; and the call for accountability in higher education.

Please share your thoughts and reactions to the issues identified in the 2007 environmental scan in an open discussion during the 2008 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 13, at Loews Philadelphia in room Congress C.

ACRL is a division of the American Library Association (ALA), representing more than 13,500 academic and research librarians and interested individuals. ACRL is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to meet the unique needs of academic and research librarians. Its initiatives enable the higher education community to understand the role that academic libraries play in the teaching, learning and research environments.