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Information about research libraries, the laboratories of the humanities, is plentiful. Several decades’ worth of data from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) permit analysis of trends in library resource levels and the extent to which these are keeping pace with the size of the student population.

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* See “About the Data” for an explanation of what materials and bindings expenditures include. Expenditure amounts were adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) produced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Source: Drawn from an analysis performed by Robert Molyneux of data collected by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The Humanities Indicators thanks Dr. Molyneux and Martha Kyrillidou, senior director of ARL statistics and service quality programs, for their invaluable assistance in developing this measure.

This indicator relies primarily on data collected by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The association’s current membership includes 123 of North America’s largest research libraries, 107 of which are located in the United States and 16 in Canada. Robert Molyneux, formerly of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information, has analyzed these data, focusing on a sample of 12 ARL research libraries located on the campuses of large public universities in the United States and looking back to the first years of the 20th century. Molyneux limited his analysis to these institutions to avoid distortion due to year-to-year differences in the numbers and types of institutions that comply with the ARL’s request for data. The 12 member libraries included in Molyneux’s sample are those at the Universities of California (Berkeley), Illinois (Urbana), Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio State, Washington, and Wisconsin. In every academic year since 1907/1908, all 12 of these institutions have provided responses to key items on ARL’s annual survey of its membership. Library materials and binding expenditures are defined by the ARL as those for:

  • all library collections items that are nonsubscription, one-time, or monographic in nature, including software and machine-readable materials considered part of the collections (e.g., periodical backfiles, literature collections);
  • subscriptions (or serial publications that are expected to be ongoing commitments) for serial and other publications, including online searches of remote databases such as OCLC FirstSearch®, DIALOG®, Lexis-Nexis®, and so on (e.g., paid subscriptions for print and electronic journals and indexes/abstracts available via the Internet, CD-ROM serials, and annual access fees for resources that are not purchased on a “one-time” basis, such as JSTOR membership);
  • miscellaneous items as well as document delivery/interlibrary loans (e.g., expenditures for bibliographic utilities, literature searching, security devices, memberships for the purposes of publications);
  • binding done inside and outside the library (the former does not include personnel costs); and
  • computer hardware and software if they are purchased with collection funds.
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* Includes electronic resources from 1999 onward. Serials purchased and their unit cost are not presented due to a change in the way the Association of Research Libraries records serials. Adjustment for inflation made using the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) produced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Source: Association of Research Libraries, “Expenditure Trends in ARL Libraries 1986–2012,” http://www.arl.org/focus-areas/statistics-assessment/statistical-trends.

This indicator relies on data collected by the Association of Research Libraries. The association’s current membership includes 123 of North America’s largest research libraries, 107 of which are located in the United States and 16 in Canada. The estimated unit cost of serial publications and the number of serials purchased are not included in the graph because the actual costs have become difficult to calculate given the proliferation of electronic serials that began in the late 1990s and the duplication of content in a variety of different access formats (print and electronic).

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Source: Association of Research Libraries, “Resources per Student in ARL University Libraries 1986–2012,” http://www.arl.org/focus-areas/statistics-assessment/statistical-trends.

This indicator relies primarily on data collected by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The association’s current membership includes 123 of North America’s largest research libraries, 107 of which are located in the United States and 16 in Canada. The ARL does not collect data relating library resources to the number of faculty, the other major users of library services.

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