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Academic Libraries Survey

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The U.S. Census Bureau collects the Academic Libraries Survey (ALS) data for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to provide a comprehensive picture on the status of collections, transactions, staff, service per typical week, and library operating expenditures in post-secondary institutions. The survey is being conducted in compliance with NCES’ mission to “collect, analyze, and disseminate statistics and other data related to education in the United States…” (P.L., National Statistics Act of 1994, Sec. 404(a))


The data are collected from over 3,500 two- and four-year degree-granting post-secondary institutions in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and territories, including institutions and branch campuses that are eligible for Title IV aid.


The data includes total operating expenditures, full-time equivalent library staff, service outlets, total volumes held at the end of the fiscal year, circulation, interlibrary loans, public service hours, gate count, reference transactions per typical week, and electronic services.


Data collection occurs biennially in even years during November-March. The collection started in 1966 at irregular intervals, and continued every other year starting in 1990.


The data are collected over the Internet, via a Web based reporting system. The Web survey application includes a user guide explaining its features and operation, the data entry form and instructions, and an edit check tool. It was designed to minimize response burden, to improve the timeliness and quality of the data, and to minimize follow-up for data problems.


NCES provides the First Look and Supplemental tabulations and the survey universe file that users can download from the Internet. NCES also provides a Compare Academic Libraries data access tool on the Web site. For additional information, visit the NCES Academic Libraries Web page.


Provides the core statistics needed for current and historical analysis of academic libraries and their programs.


Collection of these data over time will enable the nation to plan effectively for the development and use of post-secondary education library resources. Congress uses the data to assess the need for revisions of existing legislation concerning libraries and the allocation of Federal funds. Federal agencies need the data to evaluate and administer 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 library operations and the profession.


Economic Census

National Public Education Financial Survey

Non-Fiscal Surveys of the Common Core of Data (CCD)

Local Government School System Finance Survey (formerly Education Finance Survey)

Public Libraries Survey




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