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Academic Libraries: 2008
NCES 2010-348
December 2009

Appendix A: Technical Notes

Technical Notes

History of Academic Library Survey data collection
From 1988 to 1998, the Academic Libraries Survey (ALS) was a part of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS is the U.S. Department of Education's vehicle for collecting data from all postsecondary institutions in the United States. Topics included within IPEDS are institutional characteristics, fall enrollment, completions, finance, faculty salaries, and fall staff. Beginning in the year 2000, the ALS began collecting data independent from IPEDS data collection; however, data from the ALS can still be linked to IPEDS data using the institution's UNITID number. IPEDS serves as the frame, or universe of degree-granting postsecondary institutions, from which eligible institutions are selected for the current ALS administration.

Topics covered and time frames
The tables in this publication summarize library services (including electronic services), library staff, library collections, and library expenditures for libraries in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Library staff data are for the fall of 2008. Library circulation, interlibrary loans, operating expenditures, and library collections data are for Fiscal year (FY) 2008.

Library services that took place during a typical week in the fall of 2008 reflected a time period that was neither unusually busy nor unusually slow. A typical week did not include a time when key staff were on vacation, or days when unusual events were taking place on the campus or in the library. A typical week for data collection was chosen during which the library was open its regular hours. A typical week was defined as any seven consecutive calendar days. If waiting for a typical week in the fall of 2008 would delay the data collection, data from a typical week from the preceding fiscal year was used. If the library had data for the entire year, that number was divided by the number of weeks that the library was open.

Changes in the survey form and definitions of key terms since 2000
On an as-needed basis, NCES revises the ALS survey form to reflect changes that have occurred in the services, collections, expenditure accounting, and staffing of academic libraries. For example, in 1996, a number of questions were added on electronic services. In 1998, a substantial number of additional changes were made, especially in the collections and expenditures sections. These changes reflect the extensive changes in library services that occurred with regard to the development of electronic media. For more information about the 2008 Academic Libraries Survey, refer to this website.