Humanities Indicators
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Funding & Research  >  Not-for-Profit Humanities Organizations
Not-for-Profit Library and Archives Organizations and Their Revenues

Library and archives organizations are a critical part of the humanities infrastructure, as the field remains deeply dependent on text-based materials. This indicator explores trends about not-for-profit organizations of this type, which includes operating libraries and archives (excluding those that are purely science- and medicine-focused), as well as organizations that support or advocate for libraries and archives or the professionals that staff them. Drawing on tax records extending back to the 1980s, the indicator tracks the number and revenues of not-for-profit library and archive organizations with gross receipts of $50,000 or more (and thus required to submit the federal tax forms that are the source of the data underlying this indicator).

Findings and Trends

  • In 2012, 2,456 not-for-profit library and archives organizations had gross receipts of at least $50,000. Median revenues for organizations in this category were $175,334 (Indicator IV-9e).
  • Both the number and revenues of library and archives organizations approximately doubled from 1989 to 2009 (peaking at 2,575 organizations and $3.2 billion) before declining slightly in 2012 (to 2,456 organizations with $3.1 billion in revenues).
  • The median age of library and archives organizations (as measured by the number of years since an organization received federal tax-exempt status) was 28 years—slightly above the median for all not-for-profit humanities organization types considered together (25 years).
IV-9e: Numbers and Revenues of Not-for-Profit (NFP) Library and Archives Organizations, 1989–2012* (Adjusted for Inflation)

* Organizations whose gross receipts were $50,000 or more. Years are “circa” years, a concept developed by the collector of these data to compensate for the often substantial lag between the end of organizations’ fiscal year and their filing of IRS Form 990, the annual financial report required of all public charities—and the source of the data presented in this indicator. For more on circa years and the ** Number of years since recognized as “nonprofit” by the federal government.

Source: Original analysis by the Humanities Indicators of data culled from the Internal Revenue Service Form 990 Return Transaction Files by the Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics. Revenues were adjusted for inflation using the Gross Domestic Product Implicit Price Deflators produced by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (annual deflators, vintage 3/27/2015;, accessed 4/6/2015).

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