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MIT library system ranks 47th in recent survey

By Annabelle Boyd

A recent ranking of 100 university libraries puts MIT in a tie with Wayne State University for 47th place. The list was compiled by the Association of Research Libraries.

The MIT libraries showed "pretty well" in the survey, considering that MIT does not have a law or medical school to boost the number of volumes in circulation, according to Jay K. Lucker, director of the MIT library system.

Lucker also stated that the data tabulated by ARL is relative and places its emphasis on priorities different from those deemed most important at MIT.

"MIT has needs different from most other universities," he said. The MIT libraries must buy expensive reference books and science serials for the collection to meet the demands of the MIT curriculum, instead of the less expensive, less technical books needed by most universities, he explained.

Lucker pointed out that the MIT library system has been maintaining its relative position in the survey for several years, and commented that this year was "really no better or worse than last year."

Harvard was judged by ARL as having the best university library system, with almost 12 million volumes in circulation, and a total yearly expenditure of $37,196,490 to maintain its libraries. MIT libraries have a total of 2,203,392 volumes, and spent roughly $10 million on its system last year.

Also ranked in the top ten included University of California at Los Angeles, University of California at Berkeley, Yale, Stanford, Columbia and the University of Texas.

The ranking was based on an index developed by the Association of Research Libraries to measure the relative size of university libraries. The index took into account the number of volumes held, the number of volumes added during the previous fiscal year, the number of current serials, total expenditures and size of the staff. It does not measure a library's services, the quality of its collections, or its success in meeting the needs of users, according to the ARL.

In the ARL's ranking of non-university libraries, the Library of Congress, the world's largest library, topped the others in all categories.