Make your voice heard on the proposed elimination of IPEDS Academic Libraries Survey

Skip to first unread message

Sarah Fitzgerald

Mar 11, 2024, 8:59:11 AMMar 11

Have folks seen that the Department of Education has proposed to end the Academic Libraries portion of the National Center for Education Statistics' (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)? 

 See for the proposal and to read the comments made so far. 

The deadline to comment is May 3. You can submit comments at

Thanks for considering, 

Sarah R. Fitzgerald, PhD

Assessment and Planning Librarian

University of Massachusetts Amherst


Joyce Chapman

Mar 11, 2024, 9:23:19 AMMar 11
to Sarah Fitzgerald,

I called the IPEDS help desk to ask why NCES is proposing the elimination of the Academic Library component. After speaking with a supervisor, the person helping me on the phone said that the IPEDS office also has no information on the “why” as of now and are waiting for NCES to send them more info. They took my information and said I would get an email if any kind of explanation were to be provided, so I can forward that to the listserv if I get anything, but I’m not sure if they are expecting to receive documentation beyond what is already posted on the page.


I would urge everyone to leave a public comment asking them to keep the AL component using the link provided by Sarah: On Friday there were only 106 comments.



To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit
For instructions on logging in visit
Discussions on this list are subject to ARL's Code of Conduct:
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to

Megan Oakleaf

Mar 11, 2024, 10:15:17 AMMar 11
to Joyce Chapman, Sarah Fitzgerald,

Hi all,


Is there a wishlist of comments you’d like us all to make? If we plan, we may be able to be more forceful and cover more ground w/r/t objections based on various reasons or factors.




Megan Oakleaf, MLS, PhD
LIS Program Director

School of Information Studies
Syracuse University

343 Hinds Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244 |

Working from Arapahoe, Cheyenne, and Ute land for an institution on Onondaga and Haudenosaunee land.

My working hours may not be your working hours.
Please do not feel obligated to reply outside of your normal work schedule.

If you need direct access to advisors, please reach out to: for campus student advising/registration questions for online student advising/registration questions


Jones, Julene L.

Mar 11, 2024, 10:20:22 AMMar 11
to Megan Oakleaf, Joyce Chapman, Sarah Fitzgerald,


These may not be representative ideas of the group, but in my comment I stressed that eliminating the Academic Library portion of the IPEDS survey suggests that our data is unimportant and doesn’t contribute directly to university education, as well as for those academic libraries who are members of ACRL or ARL, this data is already collected, so it is not an onerous task.  I also mentioned that I would add our impact/outreach statistics to the survey.




Julene Jones

Director of Library Assessment and Organizational Effectiveness Librarian

University of Kentucky Libraries

Lexington, KY 40506-0456


Certified Mental Health First Aid Responder


From: 'Megan Oakleaf' via ARL ASSESS <>
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2024 10:15 AM
To: Joyce Chapman <>; Sarah Fitzgerald <>;
Subject: [ARL-ASSESS] RE: Make your voice heard on the proposed elimination of IPEDS Academic Libraries Survey


You don't often get email from Learn why this is important

CAUTION: External Sender

Joyce Chapman

Mar 11, 2024, 10:21:14 AMMar 11
to Megan Oakleaf, Sarah Fitzgerald,

Good idea Megan. Here are some of the most recent comments that have been submitted on the topic:


Please do not eliminate the Academic Library Survey. These data are used in program evaluation (e.g., see the appendix guidelines of the Standards for Libraries in Higher Education -, drive research on the impact of libraries (e.g., see my co-authored study here -, and are the basis for learning activities in graduate studies in library science (e.g., in my course at UIUC iSchool, 594 EVO: Evaluation and Assessment of Library Services, students use this data set to learn about library services, complete a benchmarking assignment, and develop strategies for collecting data about library services. To loses access to an ongoing dataset on academic libraries will negatively impact library science graduate study, the operation of academic libraries, and research on the impact of academic libraries in higher education.


Eliminating the Academic Libraries (AL) Survey from the annual IPEDS collection would be a grave mistake.This decision would create an equity issue for many academic libraries and, more importantly, their students when they cannot afford to subscribe to costly data services that will otherwise collect this information. It is the only accurate source of information about academic libraries. Because it is tied to the IPEDS data collection cycle, all institutions respond to it. In addition, the data is freely available to everyone--academic library administrators, faculty, and students, who are the most critical stakeholders. Academic libraries rely on the IPEDS Academic Libraries (AL) survey for accurate comparative data to help them advocate for libraries that serve their students. Please do not eliminate the Academic Libraries (AL) Survey from the IPEDS data.


Scrapping the IPEDS Academic Libraries survey would have grim consequences for libraries and universities. This is a vital tool which is the only publicly accessible source of data about US academic library staffing and funding. Library administrators need the data that can be found in the IPEDS Academic Library survey to help them advocate for sufficient staffing and funding after decades of defunding of academic libraries. Since the costs of providing scholarly literature to universities are expanding exponentially, it is vital to the sustainability of academic libraries that they are funded adequately. Not every stakeholder can afford a subscription to the statistics collected by the Association of College and Research Libraries and their subscription agreement includes an indemnification clause that is a barrier for some interested parties. The majority of academic libraries are not members of the Association of Research Libraries and therefore do not have access to their statistics. The increasingly digital and seamless access to library resources has given rise to the false impression that libraries are no longer relevant, but this is far from reality. Libraries have been serving expanding numbers of students while our staffing and budgets have not increased to match. 


Removal of the Academic Libraries survey for IPEDS could have negative impacts on academic libraries. Many libraries are already understaffed and underfunded and removal of academic libraries from data collection sends a message that library services and resources are not important. Research, teaching and learning, and information literacy are dependent on well funded, well staffed libraries with dynamic and responsive collections.


Academic libraries use IPEDS data for benchmarking and comparison. There is no other survey of academic libraries that collects this data, so eliminating the library portion of the IPEDS survey will mean that academic libraries no longer have access to the information that they need to compare themselves with other libraries at other institutions. Please do not eliminate the library reporting section of the IPEDS.



From: Megan Oakleaf <>
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2024 10:15 AM

Zucca, Joseph

Mar 11, 2024, 10:47:38 AMMar 11
to Sarah Fitzgerald,
There has been inter-agency discussion since ~2021 about transferring the ALS from NCES to the IMLS, the latter is chartered with data collection as per the quote below.  Is it possible the NCES proposal is part of this transfer? 

Quoting from a presentation prepared by Martha Kyrillidou as part of feasibility study conducted by Quality Metrics, re transfer of the ALS to IMLS.

  • ORE's functions are detailed in Section 9108 of IMLS’ authorizing legislation, which states that we collaborate and consult with state library agencies, library and museum organizations, and other relevant agencies and organizations to conduct our research, evaluations, and data collections.

From: Sarah Fitzgerald <>
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2024 8:59 AM

Subject: [ARL-ASSESS] Make your voice heard on the proposed elimination of IPEDS Academic Libraries Survey

Martha Kyrillidou

Mar 11, 2024, 10:57:36 AMMar 11
to Megan Oakleaf, Joyce Chapman, Sarah Fitzgerald,
You may find these blog posts useful -

Martha Kyrillidou, PhD, MEd, MLS | QualityMetrics, LLC | Helping Libraries Achieve Success

I work flexibly - so whilst it suits me to email now, I do not expect a response or action outside of your own working hours.

Kathleen K Bell

Mar 11, 2024, 11:06:32 AMMar 11
to Martha Kyrillidou, Megan Oakleaf, Joyce Chapman, Sarah Fitzgerald,
Hi All,

From what little I've read (catching up), it seems like IPEDS is claiming the need to reduce the burden of collecting data. While I agree the ALS may be suited for IMLS, I think the piece they are missing is how IPEDS is used by higher education administrators. As one of the largest cost centers on college and university campuses, it concerns me that the budget piece would no longer be captured. I think a lot of the other numbers are nice to have, but if higher ed fails to track how academic libraries are resourced, then doesn't this give them an easy way to continue to defund us? 

Even if we have library agencies tracking our data, our data should be of concern to the institutions that we support. 

Thanks for opening the conversation, Martha and Sarah. As Megan said, it might help us if we can thread together some concerns. I want to ensure my library, consortia, and state leadership are aware.


Kathleen Kim Bell, MA MLS MS

Head, Assessment and Planning

   George Mason University Libraries

   4400 University Drive, MSN 2FL

   Fairfax, VA 22030

From: Martha Kyrillidou <>
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2024 10:57 AM
To: Megan Oakleaf <>
Cc: Joyce Chapman <>; Sarah Fitzgerald <>; <>
Subject: Re: [ARL-ASSESS] RE: Make your voice heard on the proposed elimination of IPEDS Academic Libraries Survey

Laura Baker

Mar 11, 2024, 12:23:29 PMMar 11
to Kathleen K Bell, Martha Kyrillidou, Megan Oakleaf, Joyce Chapman, Sarah Fitzgerald,
I plan to add my comments to the proposed regulation change, but I agree that a letter from a recognized national organization carries weight.  Would ACRL/ALA be willing to make an official statement?  This falls right in line with the organization's role of policy advocacy.  Who do we ask?


Laura Baker
Librarian -- User Experience and Assessment
Abilene Christian University Library
221 Brown Library / ACU Box 29208
Abilene, TX  79699-9208
phone: (325) 674-2477
fax:   (325) 674-2202

Kevin Borden

Mar 11, 2024, 12:57:24 PMMar 11
to Laura Baker, Kathleen K Bell, Martha Kyrillidou, Megan Oakleaf, Joyce Chapman, Sarah Fitzgerald,, Judy Ruttenberg, Katherine Klosek, Andrew Pace
Hi Everyone,

Thank you all for your thoughtful engagement on this issue. This is just a note to let you know that ARL is in the process of convening staff members and committee chairs in public policy and research & analytics to discuss options for an ARL statement. 

Many thanks,
Kevin A. Borden, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Research and Analytics
Association of Research Libraries
21 Dupont Circle, NW Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036-1118
Tel: 202-296-2296 (ext. 139)
Fax:  202-872-0884

My pronouns are he/him/his

Devin Savage

Mar 11, 2024, 6:28:47 PMMar 11
to Kevin Borden, Laura Baker, Kathleen K Bell, Martha Kyrillidou, Megan Oakleaf, Joyce Chapman, Sarah Fitzgerald,, Judy Ruttenberg, Katherine Klosek, Andrew Pace
I'd like to make a brief response to Joe's point about a possible transition of an Academic Library Survey from NCES to IMLS. When I was chair of the ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Editorial Board last year, I was told that this was something that was being explored and IMLS had seemed interested in, but I was also told that there was no funding source identified for IMLS to support this. As far as I know, there is no transition planned. I'd be happy to hear otherwise! 

Outside of my role on the Editorial Board, and without any new information, I will say that I strongly oppose the discontinuation of the Academic Library component of IPEDS, for reasons that Kat and Joyce have already articulated. 

Devin Savage
Dean of Libraries
Illinois Institute of Technology

Paul V. Galvin Library
35 West 33rd Street
Chicago, IL  60616
(312) 567-3615
(pronouns: he, his, him)

Zucca, Joseph

Mar 11, 2024, 7:48:56 PMMar 11
to Devin Savage, ARL ASSESS
Thanks for the additional info, Devin. Mine was in the way of question.  The amplification is appreciated.


From: 'Devin Savage' via ARL ASSESS <>
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2024 6:28 PM
To: Kevin Borden <>
Cc: Laura Baker <>; Kathleen K Bell <>; Martha Kyrillidou <>; Megan Oakleaf <>; Joyce Chapman <>; Sarah Fitzgerald <>; <>; Judy Ruttenberg <>; Katherine Klosek <>; Andrew Pace <>
Subject: Re: [Ext] Re: [ARL-ASSESS] RE: Make your voice heard on the proposed elimination of IPEDS Academic Libraries Survey

Joyce Chapman

Mar 12, 2024, 1:43:45 PMMar 12

Here’s the response I got from the IPEDS help desk follow up email, just now. It says the reason they propose eliminating it is staffing and cost requirements. I think this refers to our time and staff – the part at the end of the component where you say how many people were involved in data collection and how many hours it took.


“Thank you for your call the other day. Our administrator was able to provide some information in regards to why the proposed removal of Academic Libraries may be happening.


The proposed changes to IPEDS for 2024-25 through 2026-27 were posted last week for public comment. Here's a link to the announcement in the TWII that went out:


One of the proposed changes is the elimination of the Academic Libraries (AL) survey. Due to staffing and cost requirements, the AL survey component is being retired after the 2024-25 data collection (proposed).


Details on the proposed changes can be found in the Supporting Documents posted on the website linked here: A summary of proposed changes to IPEDS in 2024-25, 2025-26, and 2026-27 are outlined in table 1 on the following page, along with information about the sources of the changes.


Other than this we do not have any additional information beyond what was posted in the OMB document of proposed changes.  Please know that you can submit comments to OMB about any concerns, if you wish to do so.


If you need any further assistance, please contact the Help Desk.”


Mar 12, 2024, 2:49:09 PMMar 12
to Joyce Chapman, ARL ASSESS
Thanks for sharing that information, Joyce.

In addition to the burden on the institutions reporting, there are three considerations that relate specifically to the "Department" (i.e., Department of Education):

The Department is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology.

Issues 1, 2 and 4 relate specifically to the Dept of Ed's work activities. Comments that can address 2 and 4 specifically would give more value to arguments for retaining the survey.  It's not just about how libraries find it of value, which is significant: we can also point to voluminous studies using IPEDS data and describe needs that illustrate why timely posting of IPEDS data is important (e.g., for UF, our recent salary equity study); and, any ways that we can streamline the data collection process (pointing out the alignment with ACRL). We can demonstrate that we have worked for 15 years in academic libraries to develop a culture of assessment that is respective of the burden that data collection places on our public services and operational units but also provides important evidence for library improvement and demonstrates library value to students, faculty and administrators, among other stakeholders. 

If this is a money issue, then forwarding your comments to legislators - who are responsible for congressional oversight of the Dept of Ed and who can respond to concerns about proper funding - would be an additional step to take. The Committee on Education and Labor oversees the Dept of Ed; the subcommittee for higher education is Higher Education and Workforce Investment, chaired by Burgess Owens (R-UT) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).

Collecting and reporting stats is not my favorite responsibility but I sure love to use the data!


Laura I. Spears, PhD.

Director, Assessment & User Experience

George A. Smathers Libraries



The Smathers Libraries acknowledge that the main (Gainesville) campus of the University of Florida is located in the ancestral territory of the Potano and Seminole peoples. The Smathers Libraries acknowledge its obligation to honor the past, present, and future Native residents and cultures of Florida. 


From: Joyce Chapman <>
Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2024 1:43 PM
Subject: RE: [Ext] Re: [ARL-ASSESS] RE: Make your voice heard on the proposed elimination of IPEDS Academic Libraries Survey
[External Email]

Martha Kyrillidou

Mar 12, 2024, 3:04:59 PMMar 12
to Joyce Chapman, ARL ASSESS
As I was browsing the comments, the following comment caught my attention and its these sentiments that IPEDS AL staff and Institutional Research Offices are confronted with: 

I understand everyone's reluctance to have the library portion of the IPEDS annual survey removed, but I have to say that as a solitary librarian in a small academic setting, preparing the information for this submission is probably the most time-consuming and least valuable part of my job. Our budget is not dependent on benchmarking with other libraries, etc., so having to fill out this survey is more of a headache than anything else. I, for one, would not miss it if it is indeed removed.

Martha Kyrillidou, PhD, MEd, MLS | QualityMetrics, LLC | Helping Libraries Achieve Success

I work flexibly - so whilst it suits me to email now, I do not expect a response or action outside of your own working hours.

Cowan, S M

Mar 13, 2024, 8:24:27 AMMar 13
to Martha Kyrillidou, Joyce Chapman, ARL ASSESS

Sorry to join so late – I’ve been out!


I heard the news last week and immediately filled out the feedback form.


I’ve probably missed pieces of this conversation (which I just tried to catch up on), but for the record (and perhaps joining others in this way of thinking), I’ve been contemplating this:


In addition to the visibility of library data (and therefore libraries), I’m concerned that removal of the library component of IPEDS will create inequities in data access.  Libraries in ARL will continue to have ARL data (which only, of course, allows for apples-to-apples comparisons within the ARL universe).  Libraries who submit to and are willing to pay for ACRL Benchmark will have that.  Libraries who aren’t members of ARL and can’t afford Benchmark (now around $700/year) will have no free data source for comparative purposes.


I read the comment Martha shared with interest.  To me the question then becomes, not whether IPEDS AL should continue (I think it should) but how can it be made minimally burdensome.  And – perhaps – how can we create “canned” comparison tools aimed at libraries of all sizes and funding models.

Hope this perspective adds something and isn’t redundant with multiple other posts!









Library Assessment Strategist



UConn Library | Babbidge Library

369 Fairfield Way, Box 1005 | Storrs, CT 06269


UConn Wordmark



From: Martha Kyrillidou <>
Date: Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at 3:05
To: Joyce Chapman <>
Subject: Re: [Ext] Re: [ARL-ASSESS] RE: Make your voice heard on the proposed elimination of IPEDS Academic Libraries Survey

*Message sent from a system outside of UConn.*

Cowan, S M

Mar 18, 2024, 2:33:48 PMMar 18
to ARL ASSESS, Martha Kyrillidou

One more for the road, as they say…


I know that one of the reasons being cited for the proposed end to the AL (Academic Libraries) component of IPEDS is # staff/staff hours devoted to gathering data.


Having just this morning calculated numbers for our Institutional Research (IR) office (using the txt files generated by the ACRL survey), I realized that there could be many approaches to answering the question about staff & staff time.  As we all know (well), a question that can be interpreted in multiple ways can diminish confidence in apples-to-apples comparisons (or any “total apples” number).


In previous years, I’ve considered that question in terms of how many “reporters” come up with the data – that is, I’m thinking about the data cycle and the people who have to set aside time to pull/calculate numbers for expenditure, collections, etc.


But that’s to generate the data “behind” IPEDS.  I’m not asking reporters to submit to IPEDS – I’m asking them to give me data for ACRL, which I can then use to calculate IPEDS.  If I’m just thinking Library staff time devoted to calculating IPEDS alone (by combining what we submit for Main + Law + Health) – then the “staff” = just one, that is: me.


Also – our IR office asks me to answer that question for the AL component – but I imagine somewhere else the IR office might just consider people/time on their end.  Or perhaps some places combine the two (library people/time + IR people/time).

All to say – I wonder about the range of interpretations out there and how that might be telling a story about the “cost” of reporting this data that isn’t (or is?) accurate.


Wishing you well from CT,


Laura Baker

Mar 26, 2024, 4:55:27 PMMar 26
to Cowan, S M, ARL ASSESS, Martha Kyrillidou
I appreciate these comments about the time involved in gathering the IPEDS data.  The people posting certainly make some very understandable points.  I am new in my assessment role, and this past cycle was the first time I had to gather and prepare the numbers for my dean to submit.  It was extremely time-consuming because I had never done it before.  I had to read definitions, figure out what all these Counter reports and terms meant, and configure reports to pull data from our ILS and other systems.  I kept copious notes so that hopefully it won't be as hard next year, but it was a big job.  It was even more demoralizing when my dean told me I was doing this task mostly just because it was required, that few stakeholders were interested in it, and that the data was only sometimes, not always, useful to him in making decisions.

Which brings up some suggestions and opportunities for us all as members of this email list.

An article entitled Telling Their Story with Data: What Academic Research Libraries Share on Their Websites (  notes that academic libraries are woefully inadequate in using data to tell the library story.  In a survey of 143 research library websites, over half had no data displays, while the others had merely recycled numbers from annual reports and the like, often without context or added meaning.  The article notes that "there is a clear gap in terms of how to select the data to use to tell a compelling story about the library."

This is what I am feeling personally and what I get a sense of in some of the previous comments about frustration with IPEDS.  My feeling is that the data can be useful.  I'd like to learn how to gather it more efficiently.  I'd like to learn how to incorporate it to advocate for our library or how to suggest ways we could use it better.  Rather than eliminating it for everyone,  I'd like to learn from those who use it successfully. All of us in academic libraries are having to gather IPEDS statistics.  We all share an interest in going about this task efficiently and making the most of what we find.  This is a good opportunity for professional education that would apply to a lot of people.  It's not just a data issue; it's an education issue.

I eagerly attend what conferences and webinars I can on assessment librarianship, but I'm always a bit overwhelmed by the big things all the presenters seem to be doing.  They are doing huge things with fancy charts, and I'm an assessment department of one who is struggling with the basics of the job.  I'd appreciate an Assessment 101 series designed to help newcomers or to refresh seasoned folks on common tasks, even if these tasks are not as spectacular.  What performance measures do you regularly track?  What data points are most significant and impactful to your stakeholders?  Do you have tips on gathering these data?  How do you arrange and normalize your data, and what visualizations have communicated well?  How do you measure learning outcomes and other hard-to-measure things?  And especially, how do you use these findings to tell your library story in ways that make a difference?  These questions could apply to IPEDS, LibQual, other surveys, and many other endeavors we are all involved in.

I support IPEDS because I don't want to eliminate a potentially useful source of data, and I continue to seek how I and my library can better utilize the data.


Cowan, S M

Mar 26, 2024, 5:07:12 PMMar 26
to Laura Baker, ARL ASSESS, Martha Kyrillidou

Can I just say (as one of those posters): BRAVO for your comments.  Well-articulated and to the point, Laura!


I know I advocated IPEDS as the only “freely available” data repository, but in doing so I probably over-minimized the labor involved (i.e. it’s not really free).


In all honesty, I also see IPEDS mostly in terms of potential data, rather than in terms of a resource I use regularly.  Many more “assessment librarians” are doing metrics & assessment work while wearing one or more other hats than there are staff members (like me) with library assessment in their titles.  And speaking as someone who’s aware of the great luxury I have in being able to “think library assessment” all the time – there are many, many (many) things I don’t get to every year because I don’t have the time to do it all.  Reporting internally (including fancy or not fancy dashboards and updating my internal website with current and x-year tables/pictures) is one of those “should’s” that seems always to take a backseat to a to-do list with lots of “now” things on it.

So thank you.  Thank you so much for taking the time to write so thoughtfully and impactfully.



Martha Kyrillidou

Mar 26, 2024, 6:01:38 PMMar 26
to Laura Baker, Cowan, S M, ARL ASSESS
Hi Laura,

some of the more useful storytelling is happening in the annual reports some libraries produce - 

They tend to offer enough context and use text, numbers, and graphics that are often appealing and effective. They tend to be used for promotional and fundraising purposes and the extra attention to design pays off.  For those in public libraries, the LSTA evaluations are a great source for some impactful storytelling (mostly outcomes based) in addition to individual public library system strategic plans and annual reports (the latter usually mostly for larger public library systems).

Also, for LibQUAL+, there is a rich history of resources from libraries that shared quite a bit on the LibQUAL+ website - just a couple of things linked here:

I will send an invitation for some LibQUAL+ sharing next -- this is something I had in my mind for some time.  We have not had any convenings in the recent past and it would be fun to see what the libraries are doing these days with survey results in a virtual convening about LibQUAL+ and Other Related Systematic Survey approaches!  Looking forward to learning from all of you and sharing some of what I have learned over the years as well!

And, for those who may not have seen, there is an Assessment 101 series done from the most recent IMLS funded work ARL completed - available here:

Thank you for all the great thoughts!

Kind regards, Martha

Martha Kyrillidou, PhD, MEd, MLS | QualityMetrics, LLC | Helping Libraries Achieve Success

I work flexibly - so whilst it suits me to email now, I do not expect a response or action outside of your own working hours.

Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages