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All About Librarians: A Social Explorer Analysis for Oxford University Press


Many librarians know a lot about our data and online tool resources, and we wanted to learn more about them.  Social Explorer's Sydney Beveridge, Susan Weber and Andrew Beveridge researched data on librarians and authored this piece for Oxford University Press

"Librarians in the U.S. from 1880-2009: An analysis using 120 years of census data"

The U.S. Census first collected data on librarians in 1880, a year after the founding of the American Library Association.  They only counted 636 librarians nationwide.  Indeed, one respondent reported on his census form that he was the “Librarian of Congress.”  The U.S. Census, which became organized as a permanent Bureau in 1902, can be used to track the growth of the library profession.  The number of librarians grew over the next hundred years, peaking at 307,273 in 1990.  Then, the profession began to shrink, and as of 2009, it had dropped by nearly a third to 212,742.  The data enable us to measure the growth, the gender split in this profession known to be mostly female, and to explore other divides in income and education, as they changed over time.

(This analysis, which is preliminary, is based upon the original Census materials organized by the Minnesota Population Center.  They are available as the Integrated Public Use Micro-data Samples (IPUMS).  Available at

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