December 1, 2015

Library Statistics: NCES Releases “Academic Libraries: 2012″

If you want/need/like/desire academic library statistics today is your day.

The National Center for Education Statistic released the first-look edition of Academic Libraries: 2012 today. 52 pages of numbers and tables ready for you to digest, discuss, and share.

The full text report is available here and also embedded below.

Selected Findings


  • Academic libraries loaned some 10.5 million documents to other libraries in fiscal year 2012 (table 1). Academic libraries also borrowed approximately 9.8 million documents from other libraries and commercial services.
  • The majority of academic libraries, 2,417, were open between 60-99 hours during a typical week in the fall of 2012 (derived from table 2). Another 595 academic libraries were open 100 or more hours per typical week and only 67 were open less than 40 hours per typical week.
  • In fiscal year 2012, academic libraries conducted approximately 28.9 million information services to individuals (table 3).


  • At the end of fiscal year 2012; there were 847 academic libraries that held less than 10,000 books, serial backfiles, and other paper materials including government documents and 223 academic libraries that held 1 million or more (derived from table 4).
  • In fiscal year 2012, academic libraries added 52.7 million e-books, resulting in total e-books holdings of 252.6 million units (table 5).


  • Academic libraries reported 85,752 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff working in academic libraries during the fall of 2012 (table 6).
  • Academic libraries reported 30,819 other paid staff working during the fall of 2012 who accounted for about 36 percent of the total number paid staff in academic libraries (table 6).


  • Just over half of academic libraries, 2,023, had total expenditures of less than $500,000 in fiscal year 2012, while 1,104 academic libraries had total expenditures of $1,000,000 or higher (derived from table 7).
  • During fiscal year 2012, academic libraries spent about $3.4 billion on salaries and wages, representing 49 percent of total library expenditures (table 8).
  • Academic libraries spent a total of approximately $2.8 billion on information resources (table 9).
  • Of that, expenditures for electronic current serial subscriptions totaled about $1.4 billion.
  • During fiscal year 2012, academic libraries spent approximately $123.6 million for bibliographic utilities, networks, and consortia (table 10)

Electronic Services 

  • In fiscal year 2012, approximately 77 percent of academic libraries reported providing library reference service by e-mail or the Web (table 11).
  • Less than half (43 percent) of academic libraries reported library staff digitizing documents in the fiscal year 2012 (table 11).

Information Literacy

  • Nearly three-quarters of academic libraries (71 percent) reported their institution has articulated student learning or student success outcomes in fiscal year 2012 (table 12).
  • During fiscal year 2012, about 55 percent of academic libraries reported that they incorporated information literacy into student learning or student success outcomes (table 12).

Virtual Reference

  • During fiscal year 2012, about three-quarters (75 percent) of academic libraries reported that they supported virtual reference services (table 13).
  • Almost one quarter (24 percent) of academic libraries reported that they utilized short message service or text messaging in fiscal year (table 13).

Academic Libraries: 2012 (First Look)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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