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Academic Libraries Survey
About the Academic Libraries Survey

The Academic Libraries Survey (ALS) produces descriptive statistics on about 3,900 academic libraries in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the outlying areas of the United States. NCES surveyed academic libraries on a three-year cycle between 1966 and 1988.  Between 1988 and 1998, the ALS was a component of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and was collected on a two-year cycle.  Beginning with FY 2000, the Academic Libraries Survey is no longer a component of IPEDS, but remains on a two-year cycle.  Beginning with the collection of FY 2000 data, the ALS changed to web-based data collection.  The FY 2012 data collection closed in April 2013.

The survey collects data on the libraries in the entire universe of accredited degree-granting institutions of higher education and on the libraries in non-accredited institutions with a program of four years or more.  The survey database includes a universe file.  The Academic Libraries Survey has established a working group composed of representatives of the academic library community to help in coordinating the ALS at the state level.

Collection of these data over time will enable the nation to plan effectively for the development and use of postsecondary education library resources.  Congress uses the data to assess the need for revisions of existing legislation concerning academic libraries and the allocation of Federal funds.  Federal agencies need the data to evaluate and administer academic library programs.  State education agencies and college librarians and administrators use the data for regional and national comparisons of library resources to plan for the effective use of funds.   Finally, library associations and researchers use the survey results to determine the status of academic library operations and the profession.

The following represents the most recent survey materials available:

  • Questionnaire
    • FY 2012 Questionnaire PDF File (156 KB) - The FY 2012 survey Data Element Definitions are not available as a separate document.  Use the bookmark labeled "Instructions/Definitions" within the questionnaire document to view the definitions