Perhaps you’ve heard that before from a student asking why your academic library has so few hours. The students always seem to have access to a data source that tells them every other library, especially the one where their friend goes to school, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Well, the next time I hear that I’ll be ready to offer up some evidence that the student may be slightly exaggerating the case for my library needing to jump on the 24/7 bandwagon.
Thanks to Academic Libraries 2004, the latest data tabulations from the 2004 Academic Libraries Survey (ALS) conducted by the United States Department of Educationâ€™s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), I now know that in the fall of 2004, of the 3,700 academic libraries in the United States, all of 24 were open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. That hardly seems like every academic library. That’s just one piece of informative data from this useful report.
The report offers data on services, collections, staff, expenditures, electronic services, and information literacy. While the data provides some interesting insights into the world of academic librarianship, it’s not quite specific enough for peer analysis. For example I can find out that in 2003-04, some 69 percent of academic libraries provided library reference service by email or the web, or that 34 percent of academic libraries reported that their postsecondary institution had incorporated information literacy into its strategic plan. Interesting data to be sure. Then again, the NCES does offer the Compare Academic Libraries website for those times
So the next time a student or faculty member generalizes about how all libraries do this or have that, it will be helpful to have a data source that may help to confirm or refute their claims.