Interesting but meaningless acquisitions statistics

Rush M. Greenslade
Rush Molland Greenslade

In 2006, we were asked by a faculty member to see if we couldn’t start posting information on recent acquisitions in the department.   This is actually a completely reasonable request, so I set up a page on the department’s web site

The close readers of those pages will notice that we are not actually showing every accession made, since the accessions numbers are not always contiguous, or even present.  They may also notice we’ve reversed the order of listing them.  Both of these have to do with ease of reporting.   Book purchases are not actually assigned an accession number in our collections database, unless it’s a purchase of a collection of books (this may turn out to be a mistake on our part in the long run, but since the purchase information is put into the bibliographic record on the catalog, it was deemed to be redundant by the staff).   The non-sequential numbers in 2006 have more to do with shaking out the whole accession/collection number system than anything else.

Ok, some basic statistics then:

2006 – 14 acquisitions between May and November – 3 purchases, 11 donations (21.4%, 78.6%)

2007 – 48 acquisitions – 14 purchases, 34 donations (29.2%, 70.8%)

2008 – 42 acquisitions – 7 purchases, 33 donations, 2 transfers (16.7%, 78.6%, 4.8%)

2009 – 80 acquisitions – 46 purchases, 33 donations, 1 transfer (57.5%, 41.3%, 1.3%)

2010 (incomplete) – 86 acquisitions – 42 purchase, 39 donations, 5 transfers (48.8%, 43.5%, 5.8%)

For an overall total so far of 270 acquisitions, 150 donations, and 8 transfers (41.5%, 55.6%, 3%)

Now, just for fun, if we factor in the rest of the database,  which is seriously incomplete since it leaves out purchased books, and reconstructions of acquisition data from the past, the overall is  1236 acquisitions – 300 purchases, 373 donations, 14 transfers, 9 deposits, and 540 that we currently have no idea about.*

I don’t feel very concerned about the lack of information since we are gradually pulling that information from the old paper files, and honestly I doubt we are that different from most other places dealing with historical data.  The fact that we have hundreds of thousands of items in the catalog leads me to suspect that while our historical record-keeping was pretty good, it’s going to be a while before we have all that data in a useable format for digital statistical data-mining.

So what does this mean?  I have no idea, other than pointing out how much of our collections have been donated.

About Marc Carlson

The Librarian of Special Collections and University Archives, McFarlin Library, The University of Tulsa since November 2005.He holds a Masters in Library and Information Studies from the University of Oklahoma, and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Anthropology from Oklahoma State University. He has worked in McFarlin Library since 1986.
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