By Jennifer Hoyt

As the newest member of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL), ODU Libraries welcome the opportunity to work with a group of prestigious peer institutions while striving to inspire and empower the Monarch community.

This association directs attention to growing professional development opportunities and strengthening relationships with research libraries across the southeastern United States, specifically through ASERL’s role as an active resource sharing community. By joining ASERL, ODU Libraries have gained access to resources and support that benefits the University and beyond.

“Joining ASERL was one of the goals we identified in the Libraries' Strategic Plan for 2023-2028,” said Tim Hackman, dean of ODU Libraries. “To me, establishing strong working relationships with academic library peers across the region is a critical part of becoming a first-class library serving a Research 1 University.”

In 2021, ODU earned the Research 1 Classification, indicating "very high research activity," from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, placing it among the highest level of research institutions in the United States.

Founded in 1956, ASERL is a national leader in cooperative library programming and one of the country’s largest regional research library consortia. With 39 institutional members, including ODU, ASERL holds representation across 12 states and offers valued programming for college campuses, along with necessary connectivity among library leaders in the Southeast.

Aligning with the University’s vision for research, ASERL supplements the Libraries’ existing partnerships, like the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA), by providing a resource sharing network. This gives Monarchs expanded and expedited access to collections from elite research libraries on a global scale.

Brian Payne, ODU’s vice provost for academic affairs, sees membership as affirmation that the University is moving even closer toward achieving national prominence in fields of research.

“Being a part of ASERL will provide our researchers access to an even wider range of resources that can be used to help solidify ODU as a prominent research institution with nationally recognized expertise in emerging areas,” he said. “ODU’s commitment to research grows stronger every day.”

Considering ASERL’s reputation for creative problem solving approaches, quality options for professional development and successful collegiality, Payne also appreciates the association’s ability to collaborate, which allows the University to focus on research challenges.

Hackman highlights the time and planning dedicated recently to accessibility across ODU Libraries, noting ASERL's Accessibility Interest Group as a source of information and shared expertise. The dean looks ahead to new possibilities while ODU Libraries’ staff and librarians prepare to collaborate with ASERL peers.

“ODU has made great strides recently, from the new [R1 research] designation to the American Library Association accreditation of its [master’s in library and information studies] program, and of course with the EVMS integration, and I see the ASERL membership as another important marker of the institution's progress,” Hackman said. “If you are judged in part by the company you keep, being part of ASERL is a great thing for both the Libraries and the university we serve.”