The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 17, Number 5
Oct 1993

Statistics Reflect Healthy Growth for Preservation

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) publishes statistical information on the preservation activities of its more than 100 members every year. In 1993 it published statistics for the 1991-92 fiscal year, with a table of data in the front of the 80-page book which shows fairly steady growth over the last five years despite the recession. The graphs below are drawn from the second, third and fourth row in that table, but they give averages rather than totals, because the number of reporting libraries varied over the five-year period from a low of 107 to a high of 119.

Fig. 1. % of Libraries with a Preservation Administrator

Fig. 2. Total Library Staff Engaged in Preservation

Twenty pages of the book (some of them fold-outs) present columnar data drawn from the questionnaire returns. From Table 1, which gives the percentage of each preservation administrator's time given to preservation, we can see that 60 libraries (50%) had full-time preservation administrators in 1991-92. Table II, Expenditures, gives the amounts spent by each library on salaries and wages, contracted-out work, supplies, and equipment; preservation expenditures as a percent of total library expenditures (0.1%-8.7%, median 3.3%); and more.

Fig. 3. Preservation Expenditures ($1000s)

Table III, Preservation Treatment, gives the figures for each library for in-house and contracted-out conservation treatment at three levels of complexity, Levels 1, 2 and 3. It takes some diligence for the reader to find the page on which these levels are defined, 30 pages later. Level 1 treatments are those that require 15 minutes or less to perform; Level 2, 15 minutes to two hours; and Level 3, more than two hours. Table III also records paper and non-paper items treated, enclosures, volumes bound, mass deacidification, and preservation photocopying. Totals are given for university libraries separate from nonuniversity libraries, and for all ARL libraries. Here are some selected figures: About a million volumes received Level 1 (short) treatment in-house; almost a third of these were at the New York Public Library. Over three million volumes were bound on contract, but in-house binding is not dead: Dartmouth did about 13,000 and the total for all ARL libraries was 69,000. All of the mass deacidification done on contract was done for university libraries (15,379) and almost all the in-house mass deacidification was done by one nonuniversity library, the National Library of Canada (35,237 volumes). Twice as much photocopying of whole items was done in-house by both kinds of libraries as was done on contract (13,000 vs. 6,000).

Some of the bigtime in-house microfilmers are Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford, and Wisconsin; but they are dwarfed by the New York Public Library, which makes over two million exposures a year, and by the Library of Congress, which does five million exposures a year. University libraries do more microfilming on contract than in-house, much more. Nonuniversity libraries do twice as much in-house as on contract. A grand total of 29 million exposures of preservation microfilm were made in 1991-92.

Part II analyses and discusses the tables in Part I, and adds some new data. Table 2, for example, tells the position to which the preservation administrator reports. One-third of them report to the Director of Libraries/Associate Director, and over a quarter of them report to the Assistant or Associate Director for Collection Management.

Table 3, Staffing Patterns of Preservation Programs, shows that the top 16% of the libraries (as far as staffing goes) have four or more professionals, a median of 18 nonprofessionals, and a median total of 27 FTEs (full-time equivalents). The others average about 6 FTEs, including one or two professionals.

The data is broken down on p. 39-41 to show staffing patterns, preservation expenditures, conservation treatment and contract binding for libraries by size of library. There are four sizes: over 5 million volumes, 3-5 million volumes, 2-3 million volumes, and under 2 million volumes. Naturally, the largest libraries had more staff, did more treatments and so on; but they also spent more for preservation as a percentage of total library expenditures (4.75%).

The last half of the book is taken up with the questionnaire, instructions for filling it out, and footnotes to the statistics in Part I.

The book may be ordered from ARL, 21 Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036, for $20 (for ARL members) or $60 (nonmembers). ARL's fax number is 202/872-0884. The ISSN is 1050-7442.

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