ALA releases 2016 “The State of America’s Libraries Report”

Illinois Association of College & Research Libraries Forum (IACRL)

April 16, 2016

The American Library Association has released its annual “The State of America’s Libraries Report” in a special issue of American Libraries magazine. The report covers the latest issues and trends affecting libraries of all types—academic, school, and public. Some of the major challenges, affecting the profession as a whole, that the report identifies include community engagement, intellectual freedom, and online privacy. The report also reviews professional demographics for each type of library.

For academic libraries, the report notes the main challenge as being able to demonstrate the library’s value to the broader institution it serves, especially in helping students succeed academically. ACRL’s “Assessment in Action” program has helped gather an increasing amount of evidence showing conclusively that libraries have a significant impact, particularly in five areas.

  • strengthening the information-literacy standards for first-year students—this is especially important, as many new students lack experience finding research articles or evaluating the quality of information
  • solidifying the link between student academic success and using the library—this has been acknowledged by the majority of top academic administrators; they consider the resources and services libraries provide as having a greater impact than do classroom and online courses, scholarly research, and analyses of institutional data
  • ensuring that library instruction has a significant impact on retaining students—not only freshmen, but also seniors, have acknowledged that the library plays a significant role in enhancing their ability to find, analyze, and use information
  • documenting that libraries make a substantial contribution to campus-wide academic support services for students, as libraries have placed a high priority on the “learning commons” concept of providing collaborative spaces for students to exchange ideas and experiment with multimedia technology
  • improving the student learning experience by providing research consultation–faculty have given libraries high marks for giving one-on-one consultations, in addition to classroom instruction sessions

The report also includes some facts and figures on current demographics and finances for academic libraries.

  • in 2015, academic libraries supplied nearly 27% of jobs for new LIS graduates; the average beginning salary was approximately $42,000
  • in 2014, doctorate-granting and research institutions had the largest staff size, with around 50 employees; associate-granting schools had the smallest, with an average of just over five staff members
  • conversely, salaries and wages made up the largest percentage of the budget at associate-granting colleges; they took up the lowest percentage at doctorate-granting and research institutions

To see the full report, go here. The section covering academic libraries is on pages 7-8.

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