Academic Libraries: 2008
NCES 2010-348
December 2009


This report presents tabulations for the 2008 Academic Libraries Survey (ALS) conducted by the United States Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the Institute of Education Sciences. An academic library is defined as an entity in a postsecondary institution that provides all of the following: an organized collection of printed or other materials, or a combination thereof; a staff trained to provide and interpret such materials as required to meet the informational, cultural, recreational, or educational needs of the clientele; an established schedule in which services of the staff are available to the clientele; and the physical facilities necessary to support such a collection, staff, and schedule. This definition includes libraries that are part of learning resource centers. Branch and independent libraries are defined as auxiliary library service outlets with quarters separate from the central library that houses the basic collection. The central library administers the branches. In ALS, libraries on branch campuses that have separate NCES identification numbers are reported as separate libraries.

When academic libraries are referred to in this report, they will always be entities that are informational resources within degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the United States, including institutions that are eligible for Title IV aid and branch campuses of Title IV-eligible institutions.

NCES has conducted the Academic Libraries Survey since 1966 at various intervals. Beginning with the 1988 survey though, the Academic Libraries Survey has been conducted on a 2-year cycle. The survey focuses on library services, collections, library staff, expenditures, electronic services, and information literacy.

Only selected findings are presented because the purpose of this report is to introduce new data through the presentation of tables containing descriptive information. These findings have been chosen to demonstrate the range of information available when using the ALS rather than to discuss all of the observed differences, and they are not meant to emphasize any particular issue.

Three appendixes follow this report. Appendix A contains technical notes, survey methodology, methodological tables. Appendix B contains the glossary. Appendix C contains the survey questionnaire and instructions.