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Case Study: Strategic Visioning and Roadmap Development

5 Dec 2017



Client: The Association of Research Libraries (ARL)
Project: Strategic Visioning and Roadmap Development (2017-18)


The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations.


In 2017, A21 designed and led a large-scale quantitative and qualitative research project to review ARL’s existing library assessment program, services, and products, developing a strategic plan to better serve the needs of two groups: 1) ARL member libraries and 2) the international research library community beyond the membership. The research included more than 80 interviews with individuals in 5 countries (including research library directors and university executive leaders), site visits, a large-scale online international survey, analysis of digital usage data, focus groups, and several workshops. A21 facilitated identification and prioritization of key issues and opportunities for products, services and solutions with workshop participants, as well as development and prioritization of representative personas served by ARL’s assessment program and services.


Through this research, A21 analyzed the current and future relevance of over one dozen products and services offered by ARL and made recommendations about either continuing the service or product, stopping the service or product, or spinning off the product to another organization. The final report for the study is available here. These recommendations have now been ratified by the ARL membership and A21 has been hired to begin to implement the recommendations.


Services Provided:

  • Local and International Market Research

  • Environmental Scanning

  • Strategic Planning

  • Visioning Workshops

  • User Needs Research & Analysis

  • Technology Analysis & Planning

  • Roadmap Development

  • Process Design & Mapping

Methods Used

  • Interviews (in person and via telephone)

  • Online Surveys

  • Focus Groups

  • Workshops

  • Online Focus Groups

  • Polls

  • Desk Research

  • Competitor Analysis

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