Decline in library usage

It’s not exactly news that academic library use is declining, but I was struck by a posting on this topic (“If Libraries Had Shareholders”) by Peter Brantley on O’Reilly Radar. Extract:

And then yesterday my friend Jerry McDonough of the University of Illinois’ Graduate School of Library and Information Science forwarded me a talk that he gave recently at the British Library called, “We Are Not Alone: The Role of the Research Library in a Suddenly Crowded Information Universe.” …

“This slide [below] shows the median ratio of total circulation to full-time students. As you can see, it’s the exact same story, although the decrease gets going a bit earlier. We simply aren’t checking out anywhere near the number of books that we used to. Some of that can certainly be accounted for by the use of electronic materials that don’t count in ARL libraries circulation figures. But notice that this decrease is already well underway by 1995, when electronic journals did not have anything like the degree of penetration into library collections that they have today.”

Median Ratio Circulation Fulltime Students

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2 Responses to “Decline in library usage”


  1. 1 Kara 26 July 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Absolutely – circulation figures are declining but that’s probably the wrong metric to judge academic library use. May I suggest that it’s fairer to say that academic library use is changing, rather than declining.
    Perhaps the LISU Annual Library Statistics 2006, available online gives a reflection of UK academic libraries to provide a more balanced view.
    http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/dis/lisu/pages/publications/als06.html

  2. 2 Samuel Ugoh 3 December 2010 at 12:05 am

    I agree.The acquisition of information online using PCs such as laptops and palmtops and even phones is proving to be detrimental to academic libraries in terms of patronage.I am a final year student of Delta State University,Nigeria,studying Library and Information Science.My project work evolves around this discourse and I will appreciate any assistance.


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