TITLE: Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Statistics.

ACCESS: http://www.lib.virginia.edu/arlstats/index.html

Libraries are, first and foremost, service organizations. Consequently, librarians are all but required to invest the time to understand the unceasing proliferation of Internet resources in order to pass information on to our patrons. Still, it is gratifying to discover a resource that will be of great interest to librarians, and perhaps, of even greater interest to library educators and their students. What is now called the Association of Research Library (ARL) Statistics represents the oldest continuing library statistical series in North America. The predecessor of the ARL Statistics are what are now called the Gerould Statistics, a data series beginning in 1907-1908 and continuing until 1961-1962. From 1961-1962 onwards the Association of Research Libraries has published an annual compilation that is now the standard reference for information on research library operations and trends. In the early 1980s, through the work of Kendon Stubbs, Robert Molyneaux , David Buxton, and others, this data became accessible in machine-readable format. Early this year the data made its first appearance on the Web.

The ARL page is located at Alderman Library at the University of Virginia and the main page presents several methods of getting at the data. Clicking on the first menu entry, "1994 data reports, raw data for FTP, and documentation," brings up a page with hyperlinks to three menus: Data Reports, Data Documentation, and Institution/Variable Reports, as well as information on FTP access. The "Data Reports" menu offers the possibility of looking at seven pre-formatted reports -- Library Characteristics, Collections (part 1), Collections (part 2), Interlibrary Loans and Personnel, Expenditures for Collections and Binding, Expenditures for Personnel, Other, and Total, and finally, University Characteristics. All of the datafiles have an accompanying link to the variables comprising each report. This means that clicking on, for example, the link "Expenditures for Personnel, Other, and Total" allows you to view a report on all the variables in this dataset for all 108 ARL libraries as well as the 11 non-university members of ARL. This particular report includes information on professional staff salaries, support staff salaries, student wages, total of all salaries and wages, other operating expenditures, and total library expenditures.

The hyperlink "Institution/Variable Reports" which is accessible through either the 1993 or 1994 data reports links on the main page, is the piece-de-resistance of this fascinating site. All of the data files in the 1993 and 1994 reports have been made available in a "pick list" format. From this page a user can format a customized report using as many as 30 variables from the data reports. All you must do is click on a variable in the pick list box, if you want more than one variable, hold down the Control key and then click with your mouse. These custom reports can include all ARL libraries or just specific ones. Then, using the Sort Options fields choose such data as volumes held, or total interlibrary borrowing, or staff salary totals, or monograph expenditures. Once you have chosen your fields you must select whether your sort criteria is to be displayed in either ascending or descending order. Then simply click on the "Submit" button and within moments a report displaying your selected criteria will be displayed on the screen. Users may also create a customized ratio of two of any of the variables by selecting a numerator and a denominator in the "Analytical Ratio Creation" pick list box.

At the moment both the 1993 and the 1994 statistical series are available in this format. Under the information link "1908-1992 data reports" on the ARL home page a note says that "Data and documentation for these years will be made available in the future through this page." Once all of the data from 1908 onwards is accessible in these formats it will be possible for researchers to analyze long term trends in research libraries from the comfort of their office or lab. Besides the useful datasets there are four graphs and six maps of ARL data available from the main page. This data is presented in GIF format and consists of bar graphs of such information as "Monograph and Serial Costs in ARL Libraries, 1988-1994", Resources Per Student in ARL Libraries, 1986-1994 and maps of such topics as "Volumes by Region," "Staff by Region" as well as other topics. All in all this is an exceedingly useful site and additions to its contents should be equally useful.

Keith Morgan
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
kamorgan@mit.edu


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