ARL Statistics: Redefining
Serial Counts and Remaining
Relevant in the 21st Century
Martha Kyrillidou, Director, ARL Statistics and Service Quality Programs
he ARL Statistics 2006–2007 marks the 100th anniversary of the
annual gathering of data established by James Gerould at the
of Minnesota. A landmark collection of data that has
shaped the way research libraries have viewed themselves in the 20th century,
the ARL Statistics are still relevant today thanks to the ongoing stewardship of
the ARL Statistics and Assessment Committee. Through the work of the
committee, the annual data collection was augmented in 1994–95 to include
elements describing services, and in
2003–04 to include expenditures for
electronic resources.
Last year, the committee implemented
another change that makes the ARL
Statistics even more relevant for the 21st
century: the definition for counting serials
was changed from serial subscriptions to
serial titles, emphasizing the scope of the
content rather than the multiplicity of
formats.1 The scope of the content available
to library users is a more valuable indicator of a library’s relevance to the
research, teaching, and learning processes within a research university.
In earlier years, libraries were instructed to report the “total number of
subscriptions, not titles, but electronic serials acquired as part of an aggregated
package (such as MUSE or Academic’s IDEAL) [were] to be counted by title.”
ARL library directors and other staff expressed concern that the serials count was
problematic since many libraries engage in multiple consortial arrangements and
the serials count was inflated by duplicate titles held in multiple packages. The
RLI 262 18
Fast Facts from ARL Statistics

Half of a research library’s materials budget
is spent on electronic resources.

Both interlibrary borrowing and lending are decreasing as
access to electronic resources is increasing.

ARL libraries are adding a growing number
of e-books to their collections.
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