ALCTS Ceases North American Title Count Funding

The North American Title Count ( NATC) is a statistical product providing comparative data on the number of titles, in specific call number ranges in selected library collections, in North America. The Count, which is collected every four years, reports the holdings of fifty-five to sixty research libraries, but has not consistently included the same institutions in each edition. Since the mid-1980's, ALCTS has contracted with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to compile the NATC, and the last two editions have been produced on CD-ROM. A subcommittee of the Collection Management and Development Section solicits participating libraries, and the cost is divided among the libraries that agree to participate. ALCTS pays half the costs up front, collects fees from the participating libraries, and pays the balance when the work is published.

This financial arrangement sounds fairly straightforward; in practice, however, it has proven problematic. For example, ALCTS remains liable whenever a library decides not to continue as part of the project. In addition, the long publication cycle and the association's accrual accounting method mean that the NATC causes dramatic spikes in the ALCTS budget every few years. Since the NATC hasn't turned a profit since 1993, and has never appealed to a market beyond its participating institutions, the ALCTS Board of Directors voted at the 2004 Midwinter Meeting to no longer serve as the financial agent for NATC. Given participants' potential interest in continuing the NATC through other agents, the Board agreed to relinquish any rights to the publication.

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