The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) seeks a highly strategic and innovative thoughtful leader, who will effectively collaborate with the ARL membership to advance the Association’s aspirations, strategic goals, and commitments in line with its mission, vision, and values. As a thought leader and consensus-builder on the ways in which universities and other research institutions create, integrate, preserve, and disseminate knowledge, the new Executive Director must be a persuasive, influential champion, and advocate of efforts to build sustainable models of scholarly communication. The Executive Director must also advocate for important public policy issues facing its membership in the 21st century and to sustain and enhance research library services in support of ARL member institutional missions.
Reporting to the ARL Board of Directors, the Executive Director will be responsible for the comprehensive oversight of ARL operations and programs and will be a transformative leader who can communicate the organization’s value proposition, build consensus and catalyze collaborations among key internal and external constituents, and work effectively with a Board to lead impactful change for the organization and the greater research community.
Founded in 1932, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) was established by the directors of 42 major university and research libraries in the United States and Canada who recognized the need for coordinated action and sought a forum to address common problems. The Association’s initial members were united by the shared goal of developing and increasing “the resources and usefulness of the research collections in American libraries.” Since its founding, ARL membership has grown to include 127 major research institutions, welcoming four new members since 2021. ARL member libraries make up a large portion of the academic and research library marketplace, spending more than $1.4 billion annually on information resources and actively developing new models of scholarly communications. The Association is deeply committed to advancing the work of diversity, equity, access, and inclusion.
As the research library shifts its role as a knowledge service provider to become a collaborative partner within a rich and diverse learning and research ecosystem, ARL has become the leading authority on the ways in which the research library leverages the opportunities and responds to the disruptions of digital technology and the network age. The Association’s programs have helped inform and educate the membership and stimulate advocacy within individual institutions and within contexts ranging from scholarly communication and publishing to public policy. The ARL Learning Network is a crucial resource for advancing professional development. Through its programs and strategic initiatives, ARL has engaged in an unprecedented project to reimagine the future of the research library and reshape ARL to help bring that future into being.
ARL is a collaborative partner in an extensive ecosystem of associations, affiliations, and cultural heritage institutions whose missions are associated and aligned with the ARL’s mission. ARL co-founded an affiliate organization, the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) in 1990. CNI is a joint program of ARL and EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology. ARL is also a member of the Library Copyright Alliance, a consortium of major library associations that have joined forces to address copyright issues affecting libraries and their patrons.
For more information on the Association of Research Libraries please visit https://www.arl.org/.
ARL seeks an innovative, thoughtful, and strategic Executive Director (ED) to advance its evolving priorities and 2023-2026 Action Plan in the context of the critical issues facing 21st century research libraries. As the spokesperson of its constituencies, the ED will advance the discussions surrounding key issues and policies within the library landscape and develop strategies to ensure sustainable models of scholarly communication into the next century.
The Executive Director will work in close collaboration with the Executive Committee, the Board, the ARL team, and the membership and will be charged with leading the strategic and operational planning, organizational and financial management, program development, and external and member relationship building for the ARL.
The Executive Director will keenly understand the member community, and the power of a member coalition to use its leadership status and convening power to advocate for the changing needs, opportunities, and long-term sustainability and evolution of research libraries across the US and Canada.
The ED will be responsible for advancing ARL and will have the opportunity to:
- Articulate a vision that recognizes the distinct role the ARL plays in the scholarly association ecosystem.
- Advocate for and communicate the value and impact of research libraries in higher education and on a national level higher education.
- Provide visible leadership, coalition building skills, and allyship in politically and socially sensitive issues and threats to intellectual freedom, civil rights, information access, equity, inclusion, and demonstrate an authentic understanding and commitment to diversity.
- Explore the expansion of membership and explore alternative membership models and funding sources that support the sustainability and future success of ARL.
- Set priorities and focus the organization’s resources towards areas of greater impact.
- Lead a team of committed staff members to actualize and advance the goals and mission of the ARL.
Reporting to the Board, the Executive Director leads a team of 20 and oversees an annual budget of $5.6M. The majority of revenue for the ARL comes from membership dues, grants, sponsorships, and programs. As the organization's leader, the ED will be responsible for the comprehensive management and oversight of this premier association. In their capacity as ED, responsibilities include:
Strategic Leadership and Management:
- Exude a highly strategic, visionary, and proactive mindset with the ability to navigate and respond to evolving issues, trends, and needs in the research library space.
- Demonstrate an ability to move ideas forward, while ensuring members, staff program officers and partner organizations are engaged in the development and execution of newfound programs and initiatives.
- Define processes that ensure member leader involvement is integral to the creation and implementation of organizational and strategic plans.
- Utilizing a data-informed mindset, the ED will assess services and operations to ensure a sustainable model for the future.
- Develop the association’s strategic focus on issues surrounding information production and access and support efforts to build models of scholarly communication for the 21st century.
- Provide direction to staff and foster their abilities to serve member needs, accomplish program and public policy goals, meet revenue needs, and achieve fiscal accountability requirements for the organization.
- Hire and retain a talented and high-performing management team and staff with the skills and agility to lead and guide the organization through a period of change and transformation.
- Develop and maintain a strong identity with, and support for, the ARL membership.
- Deepen and broaden ARL’s engagement with individuals and groups whose work contributes to the success of research libraries globally.
- Monitor developments in the higher education, research, and digital technology environments to better educate and support members on emerging industry issues and trends.
- Support the development and implementation of diversity and inclusion initiatives in all aspects of the organization’s work, eliminating barriers that prevent underrepresented groups from fully participating in ARL, and the greater research libraries’ community.
- Help identify and address the needs of member libraries and consult with the membership on issues of importance to the community.
- Develop and maintain a strong partnership with the Board of Directors in planning and conducting the affairs of the Association.
- Maintain a transparent relationship with the Board; work collaboratively with Board members to set the organization’s strategic direction and policies, enabling the association to adapt to an ever-changing external environment.
- Keep the Board informed of the organization’s progress, activities, and challenges.
- Foster relationships between Board members and the staff to conduct the affairs of the association.
- Serve as the official spokesperson of ARL, promoting the organization’s mission to all internal and external constituencies, including the general public and the media.
- Develop and lead a public policy agenda that strengthens ARL’s policy voice, especially on issues around emerging digital technology; diversity and inclusion; privacy, security, and civil liberties; and intellectual property.
- Communicate and lead programmatic interactions with other library associations and affiliated organizations in the U.S., Canada, and globally.
- Continue to increase ARL’s name recognition through branding and other initiatives.
Financial Management and Operations:
- Assess the organization’s current business model to ensure its fiscal health and future sustainability.
- Maintain the existence and effectiveness of a system of internal authorities and controls.
- Provide executive leadership to ARL’s finance team, ensuring the organization is in compliance with accounting regulations, tax laws, and other pertinent laws or regulations.
The next Executive Director will have knowledge of higher education, the nature of research and scholarship, and the role of research libraries in the information environment, as well as an ability to lead a member-driven organization. Additionally, they will demonstrate a strong desire and commitment to engage in national and international public policy arenas. The candidate will have an educational background suitable to leading an association in related or similar environments. They will have the ability to build strategic alliances and collaborations with a variety of relevant organizations, advocating for ARL’s strategic agendas with diplomacy, political acumen, and a bias toward collaborative action. Moreover, candidates should have excellent communication, interpersonal, leadership, relationship-building, and convening skills, a consultative and inclusive management style, and a genuine commitment to diversity in all its forms.
This position is in the Washington, DC area with the opportunity for a hybrid work schedule. Travel for this role will be required for meetings and other association activities.
Additional key professional characteristics and experiences are:
Strategic and Visionary – a transformative leader who can articulate the organization’s value proposition, build consensus amongst key internal and external constituents, and lead impactful change in the research libraries and higher education community.
- Passion for academic research, library service, knowledge dissemination, and scholarship with a profound appreciation for the organization’s mission.
- Ability to convey a strong and unique value proposition for ARL within the global information landscape, including a vision about where ARL and its members can lead, join in effective collaborations, and/or augment initiatives already underway.
- Highest level of personal integrity and ethical standards.
- Ability to lead and inspire with a consistent, empathetic manner that encourages talent development, individual empowerment and responsibility, and diversity and inclusion.
- Extensive experience and comfort with communicating and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion issues and initiatives.
- Demonstrated understanding of the trends in scholarship and scholarly communication, particularly within open scholarship; and familiarity with copyright and the intellectual property environment.
Advocate and Relationship Builder, Navigates Networks – an aptitude for comprehending the dynamics of an institutional membership organization.
- Record of accomplishment as a team builder who engages multiple stakeholders to achieve ambitious goals.
- Ability to navigate fluid environments with ease and confidence.
- Proficiency in working with a member-elected Board of Directors and Executive Committee and engaging members in substantive discussions about ARL's programs and its future.
- Ability to take in many details and see the overall picture; possess outstanding interpersonal skills.
- Excellent facilitation, negotiation, and communication skills; possess a creative approach to problem-solving and conflict facilitation.
Aligns Execution – a proven ability to manage resources in a complex, multi-institutional setting.
- Ability and willingness to seek out and obtain resources for the development of ARL’s collaborative initiatives.
- Success in fundraising through grant development, public-private partnerships, gifts/endowments, and other innovative strategies such as crowdfunding, etc.
- Leadership skills and capacity to assess, implement, and advance major programmatic initiatives.
Compensation & Benefits
The salary is competitive and commensurate with experience. The minimum salary for the role is currently set at $300,000, with a final salary commensurate with experience, skills, and the qualifications required for this role. In addition, the Association of Research Libraries offers a competitive employee health and benefits package.
Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Beth Schaefer and Laura Bertonazzi of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume by filling out our Talent Profile.
Koya Partners is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals living with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual living with a disability and need assistance expressing interest online, please email NonprofitSearchOps@divsearch.com. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request accommodation for the interview process.
ARL Statement on Hiring
Research libraries work to advance access to economic and social prosperity, encourage full participation in society, and counter the historical lack of access to material resources about underrepresented human groups in collections that we cultivate and steward.
We actively recruit into our organizations and develop individuals who identify as people of color or are from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. We also ensure that our community continues to improve the representation of historically underrepresented, underserved, or marginalized groups in information resources.
About Koya Partners
Koya Partners, a part of Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.
For more information about Koya Partners, visit https://diversifiedsearchgroup.com/koya-partners/.