May 22, 2022

A New Report from ARL: “New Roles for New Times: Research Library Services for Graduate Students”

The following report was released today by the Association of Research Libraries.

[This is] the second report in the New Roles for New Times series. This series highlights the transformation of the library workforce to address new challenges for research libraries in serving 21st century students, educators, scholars, and researchers.

The new report, written by Lucinda Covert-Vail and Scott Collard, both from New York University (NYU) Libraries, presents findings from interviews and other research into the current state of graduate student programming in primarily ARL libraries.


The report proposes that the growing number of, and heterogeneity of, graduate students and programs presents opportunities for research libraries to provide segmented services targeted for students at different stages of their academic and demographic lifecycle. Through their interviews, Covert-Vail and Collard found an enthusiasm for a broad range of new services, from advanced data manipulation and visualization to softer skills-based instruction in time management and writer’s block. They also report that new configurations of library space, housing aggregated services into research or scholarly commons, for example, can both create and leverage collaborations within the larger institution.

The report lists five key findings and recommendations. Here are two of them:

  • Develop a suite of graduate student services. Research libraries should align and design their services for the full spectrum of the graduate student lifecycle—teacher, student, scholar, writer, and researcher. Libraries can organize around interdisciplinary research and address experiences that apply across disciplines, departments or schools, such as capstones, dissertation writing, and comprehensive examinations and involve graduate students and their corresponding faculty/advisors in the planning and development process. Existing library initiatives such as the institutional repository, scholarly communications programming, and library instruction, should be reframed or re-characterized, to resonate with the graduate students and their academic lifecycle. Finally, libraries should develop informal learning and networking opportunities and take advantage of social networking tools to create opportunities for graduate students to work and learn collaboratively and develop communities of practice.
  • Create strategic alliances and collaborations with others on campus. Libraries should align their services with university or school graduate services initiatives and create cross-campus relationships, establish a graduate student services “network,” and identify primary and secondary partners. Libraries can look for pressure points, trends, or stumbling blocks within the university and identify the library’s complementary strengths in people, space, and technology. They should seek partnerships that meet unfilled needs or expertise that neither partner can fulfill individually. On the academic side, libraries should consider partners such as the graduate college or the Provost office. Administrative options are as diverse as offices of graduate student life, university information technology, teaching excellence centers, writing centers, or institutional review boards. Staff at all levels should be encouraged to form strategic academic or administrative alliances, including frontline librarians, deans and directors, associate university librarians, and department heads.

Direct to Full Text Report (25 pages; PDF)

Other Reports in the “New Roles for New Times” Series

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.