In June 2004, the first meeting of the Affinity Group library directors was held on the campus of Butler University. The group has met annually since that time just prior to the ALA annual convention on a host campus near the ALA convention site. In January 2007, the Affinity Group library directors met in conjunction with ALA midwinter as well. These meetings have broadened the scope of the Affinity Group to include vital discussions among directors regarding a myriad of challenges and issues confronting academic librarianship, and in particular comprehensive, private university libraries. Out of these discussions, a listserv and a web site were developed. Additional cooperative and data sharing projects are currently in various stages of development.
The Standards for Libraries in Higher Education (2004) encourages each library to choose its own peer group for purposes of comparison. Once a peer group has been determined, “points of comparison” can be made to compare the strength of the library with its peers. The Affinity Group of Academic Libraries formed based on this impetus. The first survey was conducted in Fall 2000 among six Midwestern peer institutions. The response to the results achieved by this initial survey was exceptionally positive. The initial group believed that expanding the peer comparisons to a national level would be more beneficial. As a result, the group has now expanded to include 33 private, Masters level institutions from all sections of the United States. Criteria considered for admission to the Affinity Group include factors such as the institution’s mission, reputation, selectivity for admission, size of budget, size of endowment, expenditure for library support, retention rates, etc. Surveys have been conducted each fall since 2000 and are now archived on the Affinity Group website