Category Archives: ARL

Association of Research Libraries (ARL) 2017 SPEC Survey Topics

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is seeking proposals for 2017 SPEC survey topics. For more than 40 years ARL has gathered and disseminated data through the SPEC survey program to assist libraries in the continuous improvement of their management systems. Each year, ARL works with librarians in the US and Canada to develop surveys of the ARL membership on strategic topics related to research library policies and practices. (Survey authors do not need to work at an ARL member library, but only ARL libraries are surveyed.)
There will be four SPEC surveys in 2017. Criteria for selecting a 2017 survey topic include its currency and insightfulness; its strategic importance to managing research libraries; its relevance to an ARL focus area or an ARL program promoting diversity, inclusion, and leadership; its relevance to the initiatives emerging from ARL’s Strategic Thinking and Design process; and whether documents that illustrate current policies and practices can be gathered from survey respondents.
Examples of current areas of interest to research libraries that could fit the SPEC survey model include, but are not limited to:
  • Coordinated stewardship of collective collections
  • Workforce implications of new services
  • Inclusive design initiatives, of either spaces or services, involving participation of diverse, underrepresented communities
  • Creating and maintaining inclusive climates through staffing, collections, and programming
  • Workforce development
  • Prevalence of disciplinary expertise among staff
  • Acquiring and managing new forms of scholarship
  • Research data management, including data preservation
  • Innovations in engaging users with collections
  • Strategies for articulating value and impact of library services on students
  • Measuring organizational success
  • Extramural partnerships
Include the following elements in your proposal, which should be brief (two to five pages total):
  • A short bio of yourself and any additional authors indicating your qualifications to carry out research on the proposed topic.
  • A brief overview of the topic with a discussion of why it is important to examine it at this time and a description of what you hope to learn from the survey data. Include a statement such as “The purpose of this survey is to…” (This text could be used to introduce the survey to respondents.)
  • A paragraph indicating the strategic relevance of the research topic to ARL members.
  • A list of the main categories of survey questions—reflecting your description of what you hope to learn—along with a sample question for each category.
  • A list of the types of supporting documentation you would request from survey respondents.
For consideration for 2017, submit proposals online by Friday, July 15, 2016. ARL will review proposals and notify authors of topics selected for the 2017 survey cycle by August 19, 2016.
Questions about the SPEC survey program and proposal development can be directed to Lee Anne George, publications program officer, at