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E. D. Tabs

Academic Libraries: 1994

March 1998

(NCES 98-275) Ordering information



  • In 1993, 3,303 of the 3,639 institutions of higher education in the United States reported that they had their own academic library.

  • In fiscal year 1994, general collection circulation transactions in the nation's academic libraries at institutions of higher education totaled 183.1 million. Reserve collection circulation transactions totaled 48.4 million. For general and reference circulation transactions taken together, the median circulation was 16.6 per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student./1/ The median total circulation ranged from 9.5 per FTE in less than 4-year institutions to 31.1 in doctorate granting institutions (table 1A and table12A).

  • In 1994 academic libraries provided a total of about 8.8 million interlibrary loans to other libraries (both higher education and other types of libraries) and received about 6.3 million loans (table 1A).

  • Overall, the largest percentage of academic libraries (43 percent) reported having 60-79 hours of service per typical week. However, 41 percent provided 80 or more public service hours per typical week. The percent of institutions providing 80 or more public service hours ranged from 6.9 percent in less than 4-year institutions to 77.8 percent in doctorate granting institutions (calculated from table 2B).

  • Taken together, academic libraries reported a gate count of about 17.8 million visitors per typical week (about 1.8 visits per total FTE enrollment) (table 3A).

  • About 2.1 million reference transactions were reported in a typical week. Over the fiscal year 1994, about 487,000 presentations to groups serving about 6.1 million were reported (table 3A).


  • Taken together the nation's 3,303 academic libraries at institutions of higher education held a total of 776.4 million volumes (books, bound serials, and government documents) representing about 422.3 million unduplicated titles at the end of FY 1994 (table 4A and 6A).

  • The median number of volumes held per FTE student was 56.9 volumes. Median volumes held ranged from 18.4 per FTE in less than 4-year institutions to 111.2 in doctorate granting institutions (table 12B).

  • Of the total volumes held at the end of the year, 43.3 percent (336. 6 million) were held at the 125 institutions categorized under the 1994 Carnegie classification as Research I or Research II institutions. About 54. 6 percent of the volumes were at those institutions classified as either Research or Doctoral in the Carnegie classification (table 4B).

  • In FY 1994, the median number of volumes added to collections per FTE student was 1.6. The median number added ranged from .6 per FTE in less than 4-year institutions to 3.1 in doctorate granting institutions (table 12B).


  • There was a total of 95,843 FTE staff working in academic libraries in 1994. Of these about 26,726 (27.9 percent) were librarians or other professional staff; 40,381 (42.1 percent) were other paid staff; 326 (.3 percent) were contributed services staff; and 28,411 (29.6 percent) were student assistants (table 8A).

  • Excluding student assistants, the institutional median number of academic library FTE staff per 1,000 FTE students was 5.9. The median ranged from 3.6 in less than 4-year institutions to 9.8 in doctorate granting institutions (table 12C).


  • In 1994, total operating expenditures for libraries at the 3,303 institutions of higher education totaled $4.01 billion (table 9A). The three largest individual expenditure items for all academic libraries were salaries and wages, $2.02 billion (50.4 percent); current serial subscription expenditures, $690.4 million (17.2 percent); and books and bound serials, $442.5 million (11.0 percent) (tables 10A and 11A).

  • The libraries of the 514 doctorate granting institutions (15.6 percent of the total institutions) accounted for $2.496 billion, or 62.2 percent of the total operating expenditure dollars at all college and university libraries (table 10B).

  • In 1994, the median total operating expenditures per FTE student was $290.81 and the median for information resource expenditures was $86.15 (table 12D).

  • The median percentage of total institution Education & General (E & G) expenditures for academic libraries was 2.8 percent in 1994 (table 12E). In 1990 the median was 3.0 percent (Academic Library Survey: 1990, unpublished tabulation).


[1] FTE enrollment is calculated by adding one-third of part-time enrollment to full-time enrollment. Enrollment data are from the 1993-94 IPEDS Fall Enrollment Survey.

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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education