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V. Survey Results: Summary of Findings and Trends

The purpose of the quantitative portion of this study was to provide a snapshot of preservation activity among specific groups of libraries at the end of 2001. The results, shown on the following pages, provide base data indicating absolute levels of activity among LG, OG, and ULG libraries. This information can be used for making comparisons with data from other surveys, for benchmarking against statistics from one’s home institution, and for tracking changes over time through follow-up surveys of all or part of the activity.

The survey data should be treated with some caution. The participating libraries had never before been asked to provide exactly this set of statistics, although some of them had provided significant pieces of these data to other surveys. In some cases, the data gathered from previous surveys conformed roughly, but not exactly, to our definitions. Where it was not possible to obtain exact responses to the survey questions, respondents were asked to provide estimates. Additionally, the sample was quite small, with individual anomalies strongly affecting the composite numbers. This is particularly true for the non-ARL land grant institutions.

The data presented in this report, in contrast to the information in ARL statistical reports, are not associated with particular institutions. To encourage full and frank participation, participating institutions were promised that their institutional data would not be individually identifiable. Thus, the data are grouped by category of library (ULG, LG, and OG) and compared, when possible, with ARL data for the same period. Also in contrast to the ARL statistical publications, which should be consulted in tandem with this report, the analysis here is relatively brief, since historical data are not available and it is not possible to track changes over time as is done regularly in ARL statistical analysis.

The graphic displays in this section represent relationships among selected statistics. Most displays were generated specifically for this study. Others were derived from a presentation prepared by Martha Kyrillidou (2002), who has kindly granted permission to reuse her data. In a few cases, the numbers developed for the ARL presentation differ slightly from those appearing in this study. This slight inconsistency occurs where ARL uses median figures in contrast to the mean figures that were generated by project staff members. The differences are few and small, and do not significantly alter the meaning of the graphic presentations.

The graphic displays begin with the “big picture,” including comparisons of total library expenditures, numbers of volumes, and total preservation expenditures. Various relationships among data are highlighted. Following are finer-grained analyses, including breakdowns of preservation expenditures, staff costs and numbers, conservation treatments, and contract expenditures.

General Library Measures

Table 4 presents general library statistics on the four target groups plus the overall data from the IMLS survey. As noted in Section I, ARL numerically dominates the other groups in sheer size of holdings, expenditures, staff, and circulation. Comparing one category with another reveals consistent patterns, indicating that size by one category bears a consistent relationship to size in another. For instance, when total expenditures are compared with the number of professional staff members for each group, there is a fairly consistent ratio across all institutional groups (ranging from a high of $224,000 per professional staff member in the ULG to a low of $199,451 per professional staff member in OG). Indeed, there is a relatively consistent staffing ratio across all categories. Although most ratios follow consistent patterns, one slight anomaly is worth noting. When circulation figures are compared with volume holdings, the ULG group experiences the highest circulation rate at 17 percent. ARL libraries are next at 15 percent, and both LG and OG libraries are at about 11 percent.


Preservation Expenditures in Relation to Total Library Expenditures

Table 5 presents totals reported from each group. In some instances, data from the IMLS survey were missing for preservation expenditures, and in others, figures included expenditures in response to atypical circumstances (e.g., disasters). Ratios for these figures are therefore not meaningful. The most one can say about these figures is that even if they grossly underreport preservation expenditures, the total amount spent by the field on preservation is significant enough to warrant considerable attention.


Preservation Expenditures as a Percentage of Total Library Expenditures

Preservation expenditures account for less than 3 percent of the total library budget across all institutional groups and less than 2 percent for the LG and OG libraries (Table 6). These numbers should be considered cautiously, because they may represent an underreporting, especially by LG libraries. In ULG and OG libraries, preservation expenditures fall into a pattern consistent with other statistics from these institutions.


Expenditures for Preservation Staff Compared with Total Library Expenditures

Table 7 includes information from almost all libraries participating in the IMLS survey. Because the number of institutions reporting in each category varies, the total expenditures are not particularly meaningful; however, the percentages they yield are of interest. The percentages for ARL libraries were calculated slightly differently from those for the IMLS survey (representing the median per institution, not the totals) but are generally in line with the percentages reported by the smaller academic libraries.

The similarity in percentages between ULG and OG libraries is striking, particularly when contrasted to the data from the LG libraries. However, as noted earlier, LG libraries may have underreported preservation efforts in comparison with the other groups. Whether LG libraries indeed have a lower ratio of preservation staff expenditure to total expenditure, or whether they simply define their preservation staff more narrowly, is an open question. The survey instructions did define these terms, but interviews at LG libraries indicated differences in the ways preservation terminology, including staff designations, were used.


Total Preservation Expenditures by Category

Total expenditure patterns for three of the four groups of institutions, taken by category and as a whole, suggest a “rule of thumb” for staff expenditures. Staffing represents the largest category of expense-accounting for about half of all preservation expenditures. The lone exception is the LG group, where contract expenses are higher than staff expenditures. However, this disparity may largely be attributable to the considerable expense associated with preservation contract work last year at one institution that was recovering from a major disaster. Contract expenditures, which include binding, reformatting, and other preservation work, are another dominant expense-with binding typically representing the lion’s share. Details for ARL, IMLS (all), ULG, LG, and OG libraries, respectively, are presented in the Charts 1 through 5.

chart1.GIF chart2.GIF
chart3.GIF chart4.GIF

Total Preservation Staff to Total Library Staff

Table 8 compares the number of staff members identified with preservation with the total number of library staff members. Because the number of institutions participating in each group varies, the absolute numbers are not meaningful for comparison across groups; however, the percentages are enlightening. ARL libraries represent the strongest support for preservation by this measure, with OG libraries not far behind. LG libraries report a markedly lower percentage than the other groups do.


Preservation Administration

For ARL, one traditional measure of the progress of preservation efforts has been the existence of preservation programs managed by a preservation administrator. As illustrated by Table 9, ARL libraries are well along in establishing separate preservation programs. More than two-thirds of them staff such programs with at least a half-time preservation administrator, and more than half report having a full-time preservation administrator. By this measure, libraries in the IMLS study are not as well positioned; however, one should be cautious about drawing firm conclusions. Recall that the ARL libraries are on average three times larger than ULG and LG libraries and six times larger than OG libraries. If one were to use a weighting factor of 3 for the ULG libraries, for example, the number of institutions reporting full-time administrators would rise to six, representing 35 percent of the total. The number of institutions with at least a half-time administrator would rise to 12, representing 70 percent of the total.


Conservation Treatment

Table 10 provides comparative information on conservation treatment in the ARL-defined levels, based on the amount of time required to complete a treatment. Level 1 treatment represents work that requires 15 minutes or less to perform. Level 2 treatments require between 15 minutes and 2 hours, and Level 3 treatments require more than 2 hours. Information reported in the IMLS survey was sparse, but available data suggest that hands-on repair and conservation treatments are not a significant activity for LG and OG libraries. ARL libraries significantly outstrip their counterparts in the other groups, even if one introduced a weighting factor to compensate for size differences.


Contract Expenditures

Contract expenditures are the second-largest preservation expense in all but LG libraries. These expenses include binding, microfilming, preservation photocopying, and other conservation work. Binding is by far the most significant of these expenses, approaching two-thirds or more of all contract expenses in ARL, ULG, and OG libraries. The dependence on contract work for an essential preservation function is troubling, given recent economic trends that leave non-staff expenses particularly vulnerable to budget cuts. As noted earlier, the LG expenses for other conservation contract work is inflated as a result of major expenses associated with disaster recovery at one institution. Charts 6 through 10 reflect the percentages of contract expenditures for the groups studied.

chart6.GIF chart7.GIF
chart8.GIF chart9.GIF


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