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Association of Research Libraries (ARL®)

  Statistics & Assessment Contact:
Martha Kyrillidou
Annual Surveys

Preservation Statistics

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ARL stopped collecting ARL Preservation Statistics with an annual survey instrument as captured on these pages as of 2008-09.

The ARL Preservation Statistics started as a pilot project in 1984 to measure the preservation efforts of ARL member libraries. The latest edition includes data tables on personnel, expenditures, conservation treatment, preservation treatment, and preservation microfilming. An in-depth analysis of data by size of library was also provided. The ARL Board agreed to cease collection of preservation statistics beginning with the 2009-2010 cycle. The Board also decided to refer further discussion of preservation in its broadest context to the Transforming Research Libraries Steering Committee. The TRL Steering Committee and the Special Collections Working Group are focusing their discussions on the stewardship responsibilities of research libraries and the future shape of collections.

The 2009 report by ARL Visiting Program Officer Lars Meyer, “Safeguarding Collections at the Dawn of the 21st Century: Describing Roles & Measuring Contemporary Preservation Activities in ARL Libraries,” responded to a recommendation of the 2006 ARL Task Force on the Future of Preservation in ARL Libraries. The task force encouraged ARL to conduct a high-level investigation of the range and balance of preservation activities represented among the ARL membership. Meyer’s report is a thoughtful and thorough qualitative examination of how research libraries’ preservation activities are evolving and expanding in the 21st century. He not only considered activities traditionally captured by ARL’s Preservation Statistics, but also a host of emerging activities largely, but not exclusively, centered on developing digital collections and involving collaborative efforts. The “Safeguarding Collections” report is freely available on the ARL Web site at As a result of examining the recommendations in this report, the ARL Statistics and Assessment Committee and the ARL Board recommended that ARL does not collect annual data on this area as outlined in the annual survey but rather focus efforts on defining a vision for the strategic importance of research collections in the 21st century and the related strategic challenges regarding preservation in this environment.