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White Paper Assesses National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE)

Washington, DC, August 23, 2016—Given constant shifts in technology and the changing landscape of higher education, what are the current needs related to information technology and liberal education? A new CLIR white paper identifies those needs by examining the evolution and accomplishments of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) and consulting current stakeholders in the liberal arts community. The white paper suggests ways to serve the needs in an efficient, sustainable manner.

NITLE was created in 2001 to “stimulate collaboration between selected liberal arts colleges and to act as a catalyst for the effective integration of emerging and newer digital technologies into teaching, learning, scholarship, and information management.” In July 2015, NITLE migrated its operations from Southwestern University to CLIR. In conjunction with this migration, CLIR initiated an analysis of NITLE’s current state and the needs of its constituents.

Six consultants, all current or former CLIR Postdoctoral Fellows, conducted the assessment, which drew on historical records, interviews with NITLE stakeholders, and a survey of the broader community of professionals in technology and liberal education, to develop the following recommendations for any entity seeking to serve constituents similar to those served by NITLE:

  • Maintain a liberal arts focus.
  • Do market research to determine how a future organization should support members at the local or national level, or both. Such research could identify gaps that might best be addressed through regional initiatives, and those that require national coordination.
  • Clearly articulate the organization’s mission, primary audience, and value proposition. Pay particular attention to whether faculty members will be a key part of the audience.
  • Ensure that membership fees are in line with members’ perceived return on investment. Have a robust and well-communicated business plan.
  • Develop a culture of ongoing assessment to demonstrate the return on investment for members.
  • Regularly communicate with members.
  • Distinguish the organization from others with a similar audience or mission.

Several members of the assessment team will present their findings at the Digital Library Federation (DLF) Liberal Arts Preconference in Milwaukee on Sunday, November 6.

The report is available as a PDF download at

CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. It aims to promote forward-looking collaborative solutions that transcend disciplinary, institutional, professional, and geographic boundaries in support of the public good.

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