General

A 1977 study of 9,605 volumes retrieved for patrons at the Library of Congress during a 3-day period in November 1977 (almost 100% of volumes retrieved) showed that41.7% of the retrieved volumes had been published in the 1970s; 23% in the 1960s; 8.7% in the 1950s; 6.2% in the 1940s; 5.0% in the 1930s; and 3.4% in the 1920s.               (Source)

        Ibid…. showed thatthe decline in use over time was not a function of size of holdings. Circulation during the study period divided by holdings size showed the following probability of use: 1970s, .0015753; 1960s, 0011797; 1950s, .0006134; 1940s, .0005414; 1930s, .0004071; 1920s, .0003865.                       (Source)

        Ibid…. showed that, although use declined in all subject areas over time, the rate of decline was different for different subject areas. Use in the natural sciences declined most quickly, followed by social sciences, humanities, and history, in that order. Circulation during the study period divided by holding size and then standardized so that 1.00 represented the overall average use rate for all imprints 1940-77 revealed the following use rates for the 4 decades beginning with the 1970s: natural sciences: 1.31, .60, .28, .19; social sciences: 1.91, 1.28, .48, .31; humanities: 1.10, 1.13, .62, .59: history: 1.57, 1.53, .98, .90.                 (Source)

        Ibid…. showed that, although serials represent 39.8% of the holdings, they accounted for only 24% of the sample use. However, their use declined over time at essentially the same rate as monographs. Percentage of serials used during the study period versus monographs used broken down by imprint for the 6 decades beginning with the 1970s and concluding with the 1920s was as follows: 43.2 vs. 41.2,23.5 vs. 22.8,9.5 vs. 8.5,5.4 vs. 6.4, 4.0 vs. 5.3, and 2.5 vs. 3.6.                        (Source)

        Ibid…. showed that, while 62% of the holdings were in English, they accounted for 89% of the sample use. Inspection revealed no systematic changes in language use over time in the sample, with 90% of the 1970s imprints in English, 86% of the 1950s imprints in English, and 87% of the 1930s imprints in English.                        (Source)

A study reported in 1981 of citations in English-language research papers dealing with library science research appearing in 39 North American, British, or international journals for selected years during the period 1950-75 (716 papers; 5,334 citations) showed that25% of the citations were 7 years old or older at the time the citing article was published.                        (Source)

Academic

A 1968-69 study over a period of 9 months of the use of materials at the Midwest Regional Medical Library (John Crerar Library), involving a random sample of 1,071 requests for material, showed that, of 1,061 requests, the age of the materials requested was as follows: under 1 year old (18.0%), 5 years old or less (53.8%), 10 years old or less (66.2%), and more than 10 years old (33.7%). (Source)

A study reported in 1974 investigating the materials used by master’s and doctoral candidates completing theses after 1966 in public health at 5 universities (Yale; Harvard; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Berkeley; and California State University, Northridge), involving 3,456 citations taken from 44 theses, showed that, of 3,360 citations to materials for which the date of publication was known, 2,020 (61%) citations were to materials published after 1960, while 1,340 (39%) citations were to materials published before 1960.                        (Source)

        Ibid…. showed thatthe median age of materials cited was 7 years. The median age of materials in various other scientific disciplines as reported in 8 other studies and summarized in this study was 5 years.                   (Source)

A 1977 study of book circulation in Columbia-Greene Community College (sample size: 1,317 items or 6% of holdings) showed thatas a group older materials tended to circulate less than newer materials. During a 15-month period 29% of a sample of 107 items purchased in 1969 circulated, compared to 55% circulation in a sample of 162 items purchased in 1977, with a definite overall movement in the intervening years toward higher circulation rates for newer materials.                      (Source)

A 1978 study in the Biology Library of Temple University involving a citation analysis of publications by full-time Temple biology faculty, doctoral dissertations of Temple biology Ph.D.’s, and preliminary doctoral qualifying briefs written by second-year graduate biology students at Temple during the 3-year period 1975-77 (153 source items with 4,155 citations) showed thatin 51 of the 60 most frequently cited periodical titles “over 80%” of the citations were to articles published within 18 years.                (Source)

A 1982 study at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee concerning the use of gift books in 2 separate parts of the collection, both the PS 3537-PS 3545 section (American literature, 1,039 nongift books and 104 gift books) and the QC 6-QC 75 section (physics, 1,023 nongifts and 16 gift books) showed thatgift books tended to be older than nongift books. For example, in the PS section 375 (36.1%) of the nongift books had been published after 1970 compared to 11 (10.6%) of the gift books; in the QC section 380 (37.1%) of the nongift books had been published after 1970 compared to 2 (12.5%) of the gift books.                    (Source)

        Ibid…. showed thatgift books tended to be old when given to the library. For example, in the PS section 68 (65.4%) of the gift books were over 20 years old when given to the library, while of the PS and QC sections combined, 105 (87.5%) of the gifts were over 10 years old when given to the library.                    (Source)

School

A study reported in 1979 of term paper bibliographies of high school students (270 students/papers from 6 high schools, involving 3,165 identifiable references) showed thatthe students did not use particularly recent sources for their papers. Only 14% of the papers had more than half of their citations referring to sources published within 5 years of the study, while only 30% of the papers had more than half of the citations referring to sources published within 10 years of the study.                 (Source)

Special

A 1968-69 study over a period of 9 months of the use of materials at the Midwest Regional Medical Library (John Crerar Library), involving a random sample of 1,071 requests for material, showed that, of 1,061 requests, the age of the materials requested was as follows: under 1 year old (18.0%), 5 years old or less (53.8%), 10 years old or less (66.2%), and more than 10 years old (33.7%). (Source)

Dr. David Kohl

 "Libraries in the digital age are experiencing the most profound transformation since ancient Mesopotamian scribes first began gathering and organizing cuneiform tablets."

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