Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics: 2021 Instructions and Worksheet

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

2021 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 2021 survey focuses on changes in library instruction and group presentations because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Access the ACRL Academic Trends and Statistics Survey (login required)

ACRL Associate Director

Profile Photo
Mary Jane Petrowski
225 North Michigan Avenue
Suite 1300
Chicago, IL 60601

2021 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 2021 results will be available within a few months after the survey closes through a subscription to ACRL Benchmark (an online database). Results are also published in the 2021 print edition of ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics (available four months after the survey closes). 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) 2021. Fiscal year 2021 is defined as the most recent 12-month period that ends before October 1, 2021, that corresponds to the institution’s fiscal year.

Data Collection Period

The survey will be open from October 2021 – February 28, 2022.

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 by clicking on the pad and pencil symbol in, or to the left of, the relevant data input box. Once a note is added, the symbol turns yellow. Refresh the screen view, and the note appears at the bottom of the input file. To update an existing note, click on the symbol and then click on the note (existing notes are highlighted in blue, just below the white input box). You can remove the note by clicking on the red “x” adjacent to the note. Submit any general notes in the Notes field before the Trends questionnaire section.

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 2021. 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. This year, the ACRL survey administrator, Counting Opinions, will also send a URL to the download option via email to all institutional survey respondents who provide an email address.

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.

ACRL/ Choice Webinars: Quantitative Reporting on Digital Collections

(Recorded April 18, 2018)



A Practical Guide to COUNTER Release 5
(Recorded November 16, 2020 from the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries)

Download the presentation slides here.

Visualization in Library Assessment
(Recorded November 17, 2020 for the Visualizing the Future Symposia)

Click here to view the recording.