Rankings overlook library

Yale has one of the world’s premier library systems, but this facet of the University does not affect its place in annual rankings like those by U.S News & World Report.

The University’s library system ranks second in North America according to the Association of Research Libraries after Harvard’s, but this standing has little effect on the score the University receives from publications that grade colleges and universities.

U.S. News & World Report, which placed Yale third after Harvard and Princeton this year in its college ranking, does not factor in a school’s library other than figuring in the money the library pulls from the school’s total budget and rating the effect the library might have on the school’s reputation. Bob Morse, director of data research for U.S. News & World Report, said this has been the case since the rankings began in 1983.

“I’m pretty sure that the rankings never counted the library volumes as a separate indicator,” Morse said. “It’s lumped in with the other expenditures on education.”

The library’s budget does play a role in the Report’s “Financial Resources” category, which Morse said counts for 10 percent of a school’s rank.

He added that a library’s holdings might factor into the university’s reputation, another category under the Report.

Acting University Librarian Jon Butler said he thinks the library shapes a “potentially fabulous” university experience, adding that rankings are subjective and may not be aimed at measuring this experience.

“[The rankings are] just the commercial company’s business and no more than that,” Butler said.

The Princeton Review, another well-known source of college rankings, does not consider libraries in any of the ratings it uses to score colleges. However, the Princeton Review also publishes rankings based on student polls, and one question asks students how what they think of their college’s library. While the Association of Research Libraries has consistently ranked Yale among America’s top research libraries, Yale students themselves have not given the Princeton Review high enough reviews to make the top 20 libraries since 2004, when Yale was number seven.

Although the Princeton Review lists “resources” as one of its criteria in the academic rating score, Jeanne Krier, publicist for the review’s Rankings & Surveys, said the library is not a factor. Instead the review considers data such as student-teacher ratio and average GPA for this rating.

“The library is no factor,” Krier said, adding that this has been the same since the Princeton Review began ranking colleges in 1992.

Yale’s library does feature prominently in College Prowler, a book series and website that rates colleges. Under the “facilities” category, which is heavily influenced by libraries, Yale’s rating is an A+ compared to Harvard’s A- and Princeton’s B+.

After a brief description of the beauty of Yale’s campus, College Prowler focuses on the University’s library system, mentioning Sterling Memorial Library and Bass Library as well as the graduate school libraries, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the residential college library and special collections.

“The Yale Library System is literally one of the best in world,” College Prowler’s website says. “With approximately 13 million volumes, the system consists of 22 buildings and is especially known for the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the Sterling Memorial Library (which is built in the style of a cathedral).”

The Association of Research Libraries began ranking American libraries in 1907.

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