- After falling by more than 50% during the First World War, research libraries’ expenditures on their collections grew steadily, if slowly, from the early 1920s to the mid-1950s (Indicator IV-36a). Then, starting in the late 1950s, the pace of growth accelerated rapidly—experiencing a six-fold increase until 1971. Following a 5% decrease, library expenditures on their collections (the category referred to as “materials and bindings”) remained near this reduced level for a decade. But the early 1980s saw the beginning of another surge in expenditures, with spending increasing in small increments nearly every year for two decades. Despite slight declines in 2005 and again in 2010–2011, the upward trajectory continued through 2012.
- One of the recurring stories about research libraries over the past two decades has been the competition for funds between rapidly rising costs for journals and other serial publications (particularly in the sciences) and library purchases of monographs. According to the ARL, expenditures on serials rose 144% from 1986 to 2011, while expenditures on monographs fluctuated just below their 1986 level, ending the period down 17% (Indicator IV-36b).
- Monograph costs were relatively stable from 1986 to 2011, with unit costs 3% lower at the end of that span. Despite a sizeable drop in total expenditures on monographs after 2007, the number of monographs purchased in 2011 was still 10% higher than in 1986.
- The number of monographs purchased per student fell slightly from 1986 to 2011, though most of the decline occurred from 1986 to 1993 (Indicator IV-36c). Since that time, the nation’s college and university research libraries have purchased around 1.5 new monographs each year for every student—hovering about a third lower than the 1986 purchasing level.
- The number of library staff, excluding student assistants, per student also dropped by slightly more than one-third. After an initial increase from 1986 to 1987, the ratio of staff to students declined almost every year from then until 2011—falling below one staff member for every 100 students for the first time in 2011.
* 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.
* 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).
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.