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ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics: 2023 Survey Information

Information to assist libraries in gathering and reporting statistics for the ACRL survey.

ACRL Survey

The ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey is administered by the ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey Editorial Board and is the largest survey of academic libraries in the country, providing one of the most comprehensive portraits of the impact that academic libraries have across the U.S. The ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey is composed of three parts:

  • Questions from the IPEDS Academic Libraries Component. Every institution of higher education receiving federal funding must respond to the IPEDS survey. The ACRL survey asks every library question required by IPEDS, with instructions and definitions completely aligned since 2015. ACRL survey results are available quickly: typically three months after the survey closes.
  • A selection of questions about academic libraries not included in IPEDS, which IPEDS sometimes use as test questions for future surveys.
  • A section of questions about library trends every year features a different topic. 

The survey has three objectives:

  • To offer participants the opportunity to provide one response for two surveys. Completing this survey will provide responses required for the IPEDS Academic Library (AL) component, including Section I for institutions with library expenditures over $0, and Section II for institutions with library expenditures exceeding $100,000. Survey participants may download a file which can then be used to upload the required IPEDS responses by the institutional key holder or the library if designated by the institutional key holder as an IPEDS user.
  • To offer responses in a timely manner. The responses to this survey will be available for use within months of the closing date. 
  • To restore measures once formerly collected through the biennial NCES Academic Library Survey (discontinued 2012) that have proved over the years to facilitate benchmarking and best practices studies.

Nine Reasons to Contribute to the Survey

  1. Contribution of your data is extremely valuable for your colleagues
  2. Help to ensure that we have the data to assess trends in 21st-century academic libraries
  3. Compile a national overview of the overall resources and impact of academic libraries 
  4. Provide the profession with timely data to inform decision making at a wide variety of institutions
  5. Help colleagues and researchers facilitate comparisons through benchmarking within peer groups
  6. Help libraries present data that demonstrate the value we provide to our institutions and beyond
  7. Help make a case in a research study
  8. Inform the academic library profession globally
  9. Complete two surveys in one: if you complete the ACRL survey first, your ACRL data can be easily uploaded to IPEDs

2023 Survey Resources and Links

General Instructions:

Where will the reported data appear?

Data collected through the ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey will be available at the institution and aggregated levels. Full access to all 2023 results will be available within a few months after the survey closes through a subscription to ACRL Benchmark (an online database).  Aggregate survey results are available to all participating libraries via ACRL Benchmark within a few months of the submission deadline.

Why should my library participate in this survey?

At the very least, we hope that every academic library which submits data to IPEDS as part of their federal requirement will submit the same data to ACRL. ACRL members recommend completing the ACRL survey first because, after completion, respondents are offered a .txt file, which can then be used to upload the required IPEDS responses (excluding annotations) by any authorized institutional keyholder, which may include a library staff member designated by the campus keyholder. This feature makes submitting IPEDS statistics straightforward and fast.

Moreover, the ACRL survey is the largest of its kind, offering the best picture of the impact academic libraries in the U.S. have through their staffing, teaching, collections, and beyond. Collecting these data systematically and thoroughly ensures that we, as academic librarians, have a national overview of the overall resources, investments, and contributions we make and allows us to benchmark more widely, track new trends, demonstrate our value, and make data-informed decisions in a timely way. The survey questions are shaped by respondents from every type of library: ACRL needs and welcomes your suggestions.

Submission Website

Reporting Period Covered

Report all data for fiscal year (FY) 2023. Fiscal year 2023 is defined as the most recent 12-month period that ends before October 1, 2023, that corresponds to the institution’s fiscal year.

Data Collection Period

The survey will be open from September 2023 - February 28, 2024.

General Instructions

Please respond to each item in this survey. If the appropriate answer for an item is zero or none, or if a material is provided and counts are not measurable, use "0." If a material is not provided or not applicable, leave the item blank.

The members of the ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey Editorial Board recognize and acknowledge the differences in internal workflows in academic libraries resulting in varying data collection compilation processes and reporting. We are asking each library to respond as best as possible when completing this survey and to provide annotations (notes) accordingly.

Adding Notes

Add any significant, measure-specific data note using the comment boxes underneath each data entry field.

Reporting Units

Include data for the main or central academic library and all branch and independent libraries that were open all or part of the fiscal year 2023. For IPEDS institutions, data should be reported consistently with the institution’s IPEDS Unit ID. Branch and independent libraries are defined as auxiliary library service outlets with quarters separate from the central library that houses the basic collection. The central library administers the branches. Libraries on branch campuses that have separate IPEDS unit identification numbers are reported as separate libraries.

Reporting of Law and Medical Libraries

Institutions with separate law library and/or medical library(ies) may want to submit a separate survey for each. This may also be helpful for libraries that support other professional schools (e.g., business, library science, social work).

ACRL will work with you to manage the data process to produce the correct IPEDS-aligned file(s) for submission to IPEDS. This will ensure there is no duplication of data in the ACRL data collection, and that the ACRL data is comparable with the IPEDS data available for needed ratios (e.g., library staff per student, library expenditures per institutional expenditures). Contact ACRL for more information at or 312-280-2523.

IPEDS Integration

Libraries at all U.S. academic institutions receiving federal funding must submit IPEDS data, so we hope all academic libraries will also participate in the ACRL survey. In fact, to save yourself time, please submit your ACRL data before doing the IPEDS survey. Upon completion of the ACRL survey, the site offers a downloadable file for upload to IPEDS.

This feature makes submission of IPEDS data quick and easy, whether you do it yourself or send the file to your institution’s IPEDS keyholder. 

Where to Get Help with Reporting

If you have any questions regarding the survey instrument or the instructions, please contact the ACRL survey administrator via email at For additional guidance about IPEDS questions, see the IPEDS survey website for this cycle, which includes the questions, instructions, and definitions for the IPEDS Academic Libraries (AL) survey component.

2022 Academic Library Trends questions focus on Post-Covid Library Service and Workplace Trends.

Questions and Answers Concerning the Survey

Why participate? The value of the survey data is enhanced by the participation of all libraries representing all Carnegie Classifications and, as members of the ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Editorial Board, we need your help to meet this goal. We know that compiling statistics takes time, but the contribution of your data is essential and extremely valuable for your colleagues. We are asking for your help to ensure that we have the data to assess trends in 21st-century academic libraries, and, more importantly, to compile a national overview of the overall resources and impact of academic libraries. 

We all face stiff competition on our campuses for funding, and in these times of limited resources, more and more academic libraries must include data in their funding and program requests. This is especially true for requests for outside funding. By participating in the 2023 survey, you are not only providing the profession with timely data to inform decision making at a wide variety of institutions, but you also help colleagues and researchers facilitate comparisons through benchmarking within peer groups, as well as helping libraries present data that demonstrate the value we provide to our institutions and beyond. The data may help make a case in a research study or inform the academic library profession globally. The requests for this type of data and possible uses are endless.

If enough participating libraries are doing the two surveys in the reverse order we can investigate reverse engineering the process so that IPEDS data could be downloaded and filled into the ACRL survey. The ACRL Trends & Statistics Editorial Board had thought through a process whereby the ACRL data could be easily uploaded to IPEDs and had not considered the alternate work flow. Our goal had been to reduce duplicate manual entry. 

We had anticipated that respondents would fill out the ACRL survey and then download the IPEDS portion for easy submission. This year we opened the survey in early October to better align with the IPEDS data collection period.  We want people to complete the IPEDS Academic Component of our survey early so as to be able to download and send along the institutional keyholder in advance of the deadline. Respondents who complete the ACRL survey have, in fact, completed the IPEDS survey IF they download the data and email over to the IR keyholder on campus. 

The annual survey results are published in summary form along with the responses for each participating institution. Access to the summary results is freely available to all participating institutions.  The individual responses (and summary data) are also available in in ACRL Benchmark.

How are the trends questions developed?

The ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey Editorial Board develops the trends questions each year in response to perceived needs. Survey participants  can also help us develop future surveys by providing suggestions for future trends to explore on the annual survey. 

Participating libraries can submit suggestions for future surveys as part of the annual ACRL Academic Library Trends & Statistics Survey. You may also email suggestions to the chair of the Editorial Board.  The current roster for the editorial board is available at here. Once you login, the contact information for the editorial board members will display.

ACRL does incur expenses in connection with the annual data collection and recovers some of the costs through subscriptions to ACRL Metrics (which provides access to all ACRL survey data back to 1998 as well as NCES Academic Library Survey data from 2000-2012).