ARL Suspends Preservation Statistics

If you were asked today to invent a new ARL Preservation Statistics form, what would it look like? How would you collect the data we need to track preservation efforts in the library (and across ARL libraries)?

By now many of you know that the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has decided not to collect preservation statistics for 2009-2010, something they have been doing since 1984.

At their April 21, 2010, meeting, the ARL Statistics and Assessment Committee decided to follow the recommendations outlined in Lars Meyer’s report to change the kind of information collected in the preservation statistics. Meyer’s report, “Safeguarding Collections at the Dawn of the 21st Century,” responded to a recommendation of the 2006 ARL Task Force on the Future of Preservation in ARL Libraries to look critically at preservation efforts in ARL libraries and outline how we can better collect data.

The Statistics and Assessment Committee decided not to ask members to collect preservation data using its current form until a better defined ARL agenda for preservation can be developed. The committee is concerned that the current format does not capture preservation of non-print materials very well, and does not support collecting data from consortial preservation efforts such as Portico, LOCKKS, etc. They appear to also want to focus at the policy level rather than on operational issues, which the current form does.

For a very long time conservators have expressed frustration with the three-level, time-based ‘buckets’ that ARL used to capture conservation data. We all know that conservation is more complicated than merely a time report, and mass digitization efforts and increased exhibit programs have changed how we do our work.

So, again, we ask you…what information would you collect for ARL reporting? how would you change the form. We at PCAN also wonder what you will do this year? will you continue collecting data? if so, in what format and what information will you collect?