Peer Institution Data Sources

The University Library provides data for several service companies, associations, and government agencies; including (but not limited to) the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL), the Princeton Review, Peterson’s, and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Other research libraries, depending on the scope of the data collection, provide data to these associations/agencies. This provides us with opportunities to look at peer institution data for comparison. Typical data points are related to size of library collections, usage of collections, budget/expenditures, salaries, staffing, reference/instruction, and size and scope of the University.

Below is an example table of some peer institution data pulled or calculated from ARL statistics for fiscal year 2016. ARL’s disclaimer for the use of this data: “The data presented in these [visualizations/charts/tables/etc.] is not an attempt to measure a library’s services, quality of collections, or success in meeting the needs of users.  In comparing any individual library to ARL medians or other ARL members, evaluations must always be made within the context of local goals and characteristics.” In making peer comparisons, you should note the many factors which may influence the data for a particular library: for example, does the library serve a state or privately funded institution and/or how is the library organized? There is no defined list of peer institutions and the selection of peers may vary, depending on the comparisons to be made. We typically look at institutions with which we have many common characteristics. We may also look at “aspirational” peers.

ARL Statistics are available free in their Data Repository to member institutions but are typically accessed by individuals responsible for the integrity of the data. See for additional information. The UVA Library system submits 5 surveys: Special Collections, Darden Graduate Business, Law, Health Sciences, and the University Library. The data for the 5 surveys are available separately by institution. The ARL Statistics publication combines the data, by institution, for each of the ARL member institutions. The yearly statistics are usually available about 18 months after the end of the fiscal year. If you have a need for ARL data, please contact


*Note that Peer Comparison Data is often for the entire Institution's Library System

ACRL‘s statistics survey includes a “trends” section which features a different topic every year. “Data collected through the ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey will be available at the institution and aggregated levels. Full access to all 2017 results will be available within a few months after the survey closes through a subscription to ACRL Metrics (an online database). Results are also published in the 2017 print edition of ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics (available four months after the survey closes). Aggregate survey results are available to all participating libraries via ACRLMetrics within a few months of the submission deadline. ”

Some of the data collections agencies allow you to do comparisons without a log-in. IPEDS for example, will allow you to drill down to compare individual data points and create reports. ( 

Other groups publish the comparison data (e.g., the Princeton Review).