NEWS: ASERL Updates its Membership Criteria

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January 10, 2024 – ATLANTA — The membership of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) recently voted overwhelmingly to modify the criteria for membership in the Association.  This is the first substantial change in ASERL’s membership criteria in more than two decades, and reflects ASERL’s ongoing process of self-assessment and desire to become a more equitable and inclusive membership organization.

The new criteria, which took effect as of January 1, 2024, primarily change the quantitative metrics required for ASERL membership.  Previously, ASERL members were required to meet a total library expenditure (TLE) threshold that was based on library expenditures across the full membership.  The previous TLE threshold was calculated yearly – and changed yearly – and reflected longstanding funding patterns that enabled some libraries to remain in ASERL and limited other libraries from joining the Association.

The revised criteria focus on the research mission of the parent institution rather than simply on library expenditures.  The revised criteria require the following:

  • ASERL member institutions must maintain an R1 or R2 status as defined by the Carnegie Classification service operated by the American Council on Education
  • ASERL member institutions must expend a minimum of $40M per year on research initiatives, as defined by the annual HERD survey as compiled by the National Science Foundation. This is the threshold established by the Center for Measuring University Performance, hosted by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the University of Florida.
  • Further, ASERL members libraries are expected to provide sufficient funding to enable their ongoing, active participation in ASERL’s programming, including an expectation that the library dean/director attend twice-yearly membership meetings, and
  • Member libraries must also possess unique and extraordinary services and collections as part of a research institution that bring important strategic benefits to other ASERL members.

“ASERL’s new membership criteria is a testament to our association’s unwavering commitment to research and affirms the pivotal role our libraries have in the research enterprise,” commented Gale Etschmaier, Dean of University Libraries at Florida State University and ASERL’s Board President.

ASERL offers a wide array of programming for the benefit of its membership and the library profession. ASERL’s Professional Development programming is its most widely recognized activity, serving thousands of people per year around the world.  ASERL also supports numerous communities of interest to build connections among ASERL members, operates two shared print archiving programs, and is a founding member of the Library Accessibility Alliance.

John Burger, ASERL’s Executive Director, noted that, “ASERL has never had ‘membership growth’ as an organizational goal, but we’ve been approached by a number of libraries over the years expressing interest in joining our community.  Oftentimes there had been barriers that prevented growing our community.  While we do not anticipate a huge onrush of applications, we hope these changes will redress some of those longstanding issues, opening doors that have long been closed.”

See ASERL’s Membership Information webpage for more details / instructions on how to apply for membership.

About the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries 

Founded in 1956, ASERL is one of the largest regional research library consortia in the United States, serving 38 institutional members in 12 states.  ASERL provides highly acclaimed programming, cultivates important conversations, and nurtures relationships among library leaders in the Southeast. By working together, ASERL members provide and maintain top-quality resources and services for the students, faculty, and citizens of their respective communities.  ASERL is housed within the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia