At various points through the year the issue arises of what we do and don’t know about the archives profession in terms of hard numbers. How many archives are there in the United States? What is the average size of an archival collection? What is the average size of collection by type–government, university, historical society, library, etc? What is the budget to support those collections? How many archivists are out there? Where do they work? What do they get paid? What degrees do they hold?
SAA collected a lot of data in the IMLS-sponsored Archival Census and Education Needs Survey in the United States (A*CENSUS) in 2004 and our colleagues in the Council of State Archivists and the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators have collected other data. There have been surveys and data gathered by Heritage Preservation, archives program students, and task forces, roundtables and sections, regional archival organizations, and others. But we don’t seem to have a list (let alone a comprehensive list) of what those data-gathering efforts have been, or where those data may now “reside.”
So here is a different challenge to all of you: If you’re aware of previous efforts to gather data- about archives or archivists, whether national or regional, current or past, would you please share that information with us? We’d like to get some idea of just what data may be out there and what it looks like.
You can respond to this blogpost, or if you have more than would fit in such a response, send the information by email to the amazing Amy Lazarus, my recent partner in the SAA Mentoring Program, who I learned over the course of the past year loves statistics, is super-smart, organized, and has agreed to help out with compiling this. Here’s her email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let us know what data you know about—and thanks for your help and ideas with yet another type of archival challenge!