Academic Libraries' Collections, Employees and Services

February 17, 2014

The nearly 3,800 academic libraries in the United States had nearly one electronic book for every four paper documents in their collections and nearly 86,000 full-time-equivalent employees in 2012, and 223 of them had more than 1 million books in their collections, about the same number as in 2008, the National Center for Education Statistics said in an annual report released last week.

The report, "Academic Libraries: 2012," provides an array of statistics about the status of academic libraries. Comparing the data for 2012 to those from a comparable report in 2008 reveals some trends about the shape of their collections and staffs, among other things. Among them:

  • The 3,793 academic libraries had just under 1.099 billion books in their collections, compared to 1.052 billion held by the 3,827 academic libraries in 2008. In 2008, the libraries had 102 million ebooks, less than 10 percent the size of their paper collections. In 2012, they had 250 million ebooks, almost 25 percent the size of their paper collections.
  • The libraries had 93,438 FTE staff in 2008, including 27,000 librarians, about 7,500 full-time-equivalent professional staff, and about 24,000 student assistants. Those numbers had dropped by 2012, to 85,752 full-time-equivalent employees, about 26,000 librarians, and about 20,500 student assistants.
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