Find information on spaces, staff, and services.
The UW-Madison Libraries curate a vast collection of information materials to support the teaching and research mission of our campus. This page collects high level counts of the major material and content types. While our library search interface allows faculty, staff, students and community members to search across the entire UW System 13 campus library consortium, as well as the UW Digitized Collections, these numbers represent the catalog holdings of the UW-Madison campus only at the start of the current fiscal year, July 2023.
There are nearly 8 million unique book titles in the campus libraries. We own many titles in multiple formats, like print and electronic, so our title and volume counts are higher than the number of individual works. This includes both print (6.4 million volumes) and electronic (3.3 million volumes) books. The combined 9.7 million print and electronic volumes represent the depth and complexity found in a research collection. This volume count is significantly higher than our title count for reasons that include:
UW-Madison holds over 627 thousand unique serial titles in the campus libraries. Libraries define a serial as any title that is published serially, that is, in multiple successive parts over time. Typically we think of serials as journals, magazines and newspapers. But in a research collection you will also find many book, or monographic, series, such as the bound volumes published annually to collect conference proceedings.
Faculty, staff and students at UW-Madison have access to over 1600 online databases. These databases are typically accessed over the web and are made accessible via licensing contracts that the Libraries negotiate with content vendors. Databases are accessed from a subset of campus IP addresses or from nearly anywhere in the world using campus login credentials.
A compact, analog form of physical material compression, the UW-Madison Libraries count 637 thousand unique microform titles in its collections. Microform is available to use in the library on specialized equipment and will make any Badger feel like a movie gumshoe digging into the archives to unravel historical events that can only be found by reading old newspaper archives…
Please note that our microform collections are not fully cataloged due to the fact that these materials typically do not circulate and are only available for use in a campus library. This means that these numbers based on available data undercount the extent of microform collections.
There are 763 thousand media objects in the campus libraries. In addition to textual materials, the libraries have an extensive collection of sound recordings (musical and non-musical), movies, maps/atlases and graphical materials from images to scores.
Physical archival collections are measured in one of two ways: by linear feet or cubic feet. Linear measurements describe only the front shelf space that an archival box occupies. Cubic measurements describe the total volume of archival boxes. Locations in the General Library System use linear feet, while the Wisconsin Historical Society uses cubic feet.
The UW Digital Collections Center (UWDCC) curates and makes available a vast selection of digital resources gathered from around the world. The digital collections include documentary photos, historical artifacts, music, oral histories, manuscripts, monographs, journals, museum exhibitions, lecture notes, conference proceedings, and many other kinds of materials.
Unique work: a single creative composition irrespective of any individual instance or format. The Libraries could hold copies of the same work in multiple formats, such as both the print and electronic versions of the same edition of a book. Reading the work in either format, the content is identical in terms of the text encountered. Our cataloging rules require that we create multiple bibliographic records, one for each format. The notion of a unique work allows us to understand things like format overlap and duplication in our collections.
Cataloged title: a distinct bibliographic record in our collection of metadata that we use to manage and enable search over our collections. When a library holds two copies of the same title in the same format, we maintain a single bibliographic title record and associate a “holding” record for each copy with the bibliographic description record. Technical: MARC bibliographic record.
Individual copy: also known as a holding in library jargon, a copy represents one physical or electronic version of a given work. In the case of serials, for example, if two campus libraries each had a complete run of a journal that has been published over 50 years, there would be 50 bound volumes at each location. In this case, the copy represents the entire journal run and we would count 2 copies, not 50. Technical: MARC holding record or Alma Portfolio record for e-resources.
Print volume/item: a physical instance of a book, journal or other title at a library. Typically this is a thing in a library that has a barcode that can be scanned to check a book, title, CD, etc out to a patron. Technical: Alma Item record.
Ebook volume/item: an electronic instance of a book or journal that is typically provided through a library content vendor website. Technical: Alma Portfolio record for e-resources.
Digital Resource: typically a digital version of a physical item that might be found in a library collection or archive. Examples of digital resources include photos, musical works, books, primary sources like correspondence, images of materials from a museum exhibition, or documentary videos. A digital resource consists of one or more media files (e.g., images, audio files, a sequence of page scans, PDF documents) along with metadata describing the resource. The materials in our digital collections are typically created from analog sources by the UW Digital Collections Center staff, but also include born-digital materials contributed by our project partners.