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Contact: Kara Malenfant
For Immediate Release
March 31, 2007  

ACRL announces the Top Ten Assumptions for the future
of academic libraries

BALTIMORE – The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) unveiled its Top Ten Assumptions for the future of academic and research libraries today during the ACRL’s 13th National Conference held March 29 to April 1 in Baltimore. 

The ACRL Research Committee developed the top ten assumptions after surveying member leaders and conducting a literature review. A panel representing community and liberal arts colleges, research university libraries, as well as an observer of the higher education environment reacted and commented upon the assumptions at the ACRL National Conference. 

“These assumptions underscore the dominant roles that technology and consumer expectations are increasingly playing in libraries,” said Pamela Snelson, president, ACRL and college librarian at Franklin and Marshall College. “The underlying trends offer new opportunities for academic libraries and librarians to embrace the future.”

1. There will be an increased emphasis on digitizing collections, preserving digital archives, and improving methods of data storage and retrieval.

2. The skill set for librarians will continue to evolve in response to the needs and expectations of the changing populations (student and faculty) that they serve.

3. Students and faculty will increasingly demand faster and greater access to services.

4. Debates about intellectual property will become increasingly common in higher education.

5. The demand for technology related services will grow and require additional funding.

6. Higher education will increasingly view the institution as a business.

7. Students will increasingly view themselves as customers and consumers, expecting high quality facilities and services.

8. Distance learning will be an increasingly common option in higher education and will co-exist but not threaten the traditional bricks-and-mortar model.

9. Free, public access to information stemming from publicly funded research will continue to grow.

10. Privacy will continue to be an important issue in librarianship.
“Public access to taxpayer funded research is perhaps the most unpredictable and exciting of the ten, and legislation will play a key role here,” said James L. Mullins, chair of the ACRL Research Committee and dean of libraries at Purdue University. “It will be advantageous to the academic community to focus on scholarly communication issues by exploring alternatives to the present mode of disseminating research findings.  Librarians must collaborate in this discussion with disciplinary colleagues, yet not make it a “libraries” issue only.”  

A podcast featuring Snelson and Mullins discussing the top ten assumptions is available at Read more by Mullins and committee members in the April issue of College & Research Libraries News at

The ACRL Research Committee invites comment from librarians. How does each assumption impact your library or you professionally? Are you aware of any developing issues or nascent trends that are not captured in the list? Reply online by April 30, 2007 at

ACRL is a division of the American Library Association (ALA), representing more than 13,000 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.