ASERL statistics, part 1
The average print circulation among Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) dropped an average of 30% in just 12 years between 2000 and 2012. Charlotte’s drop was a bit sharper, 33% between 2002 and 2012. In the face of this bad news, I propose that research libraries respond by simply stopping the reporting of print circulation counts.
For decades, circ counts served as a reasonable, if flawed, proxy measure for the usefulness of our collections. The reasonableness this measure has been declining gradually in recent years. Now, however, the advent of university press ebooks will move our print circ counts from “reasonable,” past “unreasonable,” to “dangerous.” Dangerous in the sense that casual observers are likely to see in the precipitous decline of print circ counts the decline of the value proposition of the library.
The case for abandoning circ counts is bolstered by new download counts, astronomically high and growing. Downloads, the new proxy measure for the utility of our vast investment in collections.