Archive for January 16th, 2013

Academic library spending on e-serials: A quick-and-dirty note

Posted in Libraries on January 16th, 2013

Karen Harker has a thoughtful post, “Analyzing changes to journal prices over time,” at her Being and Librarianship blog, discussing an article from an AAP person claiming that library serials prices aren’t really increasing all that much–and using ARL figures to make that claim.

I’m not going to analyze the claim and the figures: I lack the expertise, time and authority to do so meaningfully. Harker raises a number of excellent questions, ones that deserve digging into by those in a position to do so.

But I thought I’d take one quick look at, well, not 20 years of change over 120-odd large academic libraries–but two years of change over essentially all the academic libraries in the U.S.–as reported in the NCES biennial survey.

This is just a quick-and-dirty note. I just imported the 2010 and 2008 databases into Excel and did Autosums on the entire columns for print serials expenditures and e-serials expenditures (which notably omit one-time backfile purchases).

The key points in what I found:

  • Between 2008 and 2010, total print serials expenditures increased by 4.7% (which is still above inflation, which apparently was 1.28% for the two years).
  • During that same time period, total electronic serials expenditures increased by 24.3%.
  • TWENTY-FOUR POINT THREE PERCENT: Just under 25%. In two years. Years with very low inflation.
  • Putting that in dollars, e-serials took $245 million more out of academic library budgets in 2010 than they did in 2008.

Again, those are quick-and-dirty figures: I spent maybe 10 minutes putting them together.

(Separately, I’m working on a Cites & Insights piece on which academic libraries have increasing rather than decreasing circulation–and there are quite a few of them that do. If somebody says “circulation is falling at all academic libraries,” they’re not only wrong, they’re seriously wrong. You’ll have to wait for the March C&I for details.. Oh, and by the way, now would be a really good time to go to C&I and contribute something to keep it going, either in HTML form or in general.)

Oh, and hat-tip to Stephen Francouer for pointing to the post…and I’ve now subscribed to Harker’s blog.

Louisiana public libraries

Posted in $4 on January 16th, 2013

Another post commenting on Chapter 20 of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13)–now available as a $9.99 Kindle ebook or $21.95 paperback with ISBN 978-1481279161 on Amazon, along with the usual Lulu options.

Louisiana’s 68 libraries (none were omitted) are reasonably well distributed in terms of spending—a little low at the very top, but also low in the two lowest brackets. Circulation is distinctly on the low side, with no library circulating at least 17 items per capita and only 19% circulating at least six items per capita (compared to 64% overall). Spending does correlate with circulation on the benchmark side and, with one exception, on the budget side (the best-funded libraries generally circulate fewer items per capita than those spending $53 to $72.99). Patron visits are also low, with none hitting 9 or more visits per capita and only 25% at four or more (compared to 65% overall).

Program attendance is also low: 69% of the libraries have less than 0.3 attendance per capita, compared to 46% overall. Since 57% of the libraries have from 0.5 to 0.99 PC uses per capita, those figures are also on the low side (although very few libraries—6, or 9%–have less than 0.5 PC uses per capita).

Libraries by legal service area

LSA Count %
700-1,149 1 1.5%
1,150-1,649 1 1.5%
4,000-5,299 1 1.5%
5,300-6,799 2 2.9%
6,800-8,699 1 1.5%
8,700-11,099 4 5.9%
11,100-14,099 3 4.4%
14,100-18,499 6 8.8%
18,500-24,999 11 16.2%
25,000-34,499 6 8.8%
34,500-53,999 13 19.1%
54,000-104,999 5 7.4%
105,000-4.1 mill. 14 20.6%

Circulation per Capita and Spending per Capita

There’s only a moderate correlation (0.37) between circulation per capita and spending per capita for Louisiana libraries.

Circulation per capita plotted against spending per capita

Circulation per capita (rounded) occurrence by spending category


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