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How do Marquette’s libraries stack up?

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Tribune file photo.

Tribune file photo.

Any freshman who has gotten lost somewhere on the fourth floor of Marquette’s Memorial Library can tell you that the building is both big and a little mysterious. At any given time, the library plays host to students sleeping in leather chairs, ingesting muffins on the bridge, viewing the Tolkien manuscripts in the archives and, sometimes, actually studying.

But to answer some of the burning questions behind all the books, the Tribune decided to take a look into numbers submitted by Marquette’s Raynor Memorial and Eckstein Law libraries to show how the funding, staff and materials compare to other schools across the country.

The National Center for Education Statistics provides some answers in its biennial survey of academic libraries, supported by the United States Census Bureau.

According to Emily Laws, an assistant librarian and coordinator of marketing and outreach for the Raynor Memorial Libraries, the survey provides the most up-to-date published data for the library since 2011.

“The (Academic Library Survey) data represents all libraries on a given campus, which may or may not include a medical library, a law library or any type of department library,” Laws told the Tribune in an email.

That discrepancy can make entirely level comparison difficult, Laws said. But using the numbers can still give insight into the scope of Marquette’s libraries both for students and as nationally recognized institutions.

How much does Marquette spend on our libraries?

In fiscal year 2012 the library reported spending $1,364.55 in expenditures for every full-time student enrolled at Marquette, well above the average of academic libraries at the state and national averages at $522 and $530 per student, respectively.

The majority of the expenditures went to acquiring and managing academic resources. Purchases of books and other materials made up about 26 percent of the total; subscriptions to electronic serials made up 27 percent; and subscriptions to print serials, made up about 34 percent of the total expenditures.

On top of these expenditures, salaries for the libraries amounted to $5,198,297 for all staff members, well above the national average. Which leads us to …

How many people work in our libraries?

For every 1,000 full-time students at Marquette, there is a little more than 10 library employees. At the time of the survey, Marquette’s libraries employed 114 people including 42 librarians.

“Instruction and reference librarians provided nearly 13,000 reference transactions over the 2012-2013 academic year, helping students locate and access electronic or print material, use software and digital media equipment, or identify appropriate databases for their research,” Laws said. “These same librarians provided over 500 one-on-one student research consultations and nearly 400 class instruction sessions — over 6,000 students in attendance — for all departments on campus.”
The libraries affect every student on campus. Students and faculty alike visit for many reasons — physical space (group study rooms, the bridge for coffee and socializing or meetings with TAs), collections (databases, E-books, print material, archives and digital technology), or research support (reference desk, one-on-one consults or group instruction).

How many books do we actually have in the libraries?

It’s no wonder it’s easy to get lost in the stacks of material in the library because for every full-time student at Marquette there are about 125 printed materials, including books and serials.

This again puts us well above the national average of about 91 materials per student.

In total, Marquette’s Raynor Memorial Libraries hold 1,124,472 print volumes, 18,977 audio and video unit and 434,699 E-books.

Many print items are recently been digitized as well. In the 2011-2013 academic year, “the resource management staff acquired and cataloged thousands of new volumes … adding to our over 1.8 million total volumes,” Laws said.
And though, like all libraries, there is a slight decrease in circulation of print monographs, physical resources still make up a significant part of the Raynor Memorial Libraries’ work with 154,000 items circulated in the last academic year.

Though “no one metric can attest to the strength of a library,” Law said, all the impressive numbers behind our libraries, might make you appreciate all that goes into making your next all-nighter study session possible.

“The libraries impact every student on campus,” Laws said. “Being a librarian, I am very passionate about our role in higher education.”

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