Could Your Library Answer 1 Million Reference Questions A Year?

June 19, 2015, 2:18 pm

In 1995 the Association of Research Libraries started collecting stats on references queries. The top five that year handled over 500,000 questions each. I’m sure in those early days there were some interesting approaches to collecting the data as well as different interpretations of a reference query.


via ARL (reference queries ranking, 1995)

Here is what the Top 10 looks like today:


via ARL (reference queries ranking, 2014)

 I mentioned this steady decline in an earlier post, but here is what that looks like in a table:


What’s “good” now?

via @gloriousnoise

When I look at these numbers I think of the music industry. Back in the 90’s if you sold 500,000 units the first week that was a success. While today if you open selling 50,000 units that is considered good.

The top library today (in terms of queries) would have been ranked #36 back in 1995. The mean in 1995 was 210,588. While the mean in 2014 was 44,667.

I could spend all week looking at ARL data but some renovation work beckons. I’ll try and get a quick post out on instructional data next week.

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