Higher Ranked Fortune 500 Companies Significantly More Likely to Have Libraries

Information Outlook, March 2000 | Go to article overview

Higher Ranked Fortune 500 Companies Significantly More Likely to Have Libraries


A SLA study reveals that in 1998, corporations that were ranked higher on the Fortune 500 list were significantly more likely than those ranked lower to have a corporate library or information center (r=,257; y.000l; accurate 99 times out of 100). [1]

When examining the Fortune 500 companies by groups of 100, it was found that 85% of those in the top 100 had libraries/information centers. Among companies ranked in the bottom 100, ranks 401 to 500, on the other hand, only 50% of the companies had libraries or information centers. Examining the highest ranked companies more closely revealed that 90% of the top 50 companies, and 93% of the top 15 companies had libraries. Overall, 63% of the Fortune 500 companies had libraries.

How the Study was Conducted

The Fortune 500 list used in the study was presented in the April 27, 1998 issue of Fortune. Subsidiaries of the companies were also included in the study, as assessed by examining America's Corporate Families (1998), since it was considered important to identify libraries in all segments of the company. Several sources were used to determine whether there were libraries or information centers in the Fortune 500 companies or their subsidiaries. The Business Index of Who's Who in Special Libraries, 1998-1999, a directory of members in the Special Libraries Association, was first utilized to assess whether there were any SLA members in the companies. For those Fortune 500 companies in which there were not SLA members, the American Library Directory 1998-99 and the Directory of Special Libraries & Information Centers (1998) were used to ascertain whether the companies had libraries.

It is becoming more frequent for information professionals to hold positions outside traditional libraries. Although SLA may have members working at a particular organization, they may be using their information organizing and research skills in departments other than libraries.

Therefore, a subjective assessment of the departments of SLA members working at Fortune 500 companies was made to determine whether the departments were libraries. It was determined that there were 22 cases where it was unclear, with department names as Marketing Research, Strategic Planning and Research, and Clinical Information and Outcomes. However, since it was a small number of companies (4.4%) and since the individuals in these departments probably were, at a minimum, using their library and information science training in some capacity, these companies were coded as having a library or information center for the purposes of this study.

Analysis by Industry

When examined by the 59 industries used in the Fortune 500 ranking, 37 industries (63%) were more likely to have libraries than not to have libraries, 4 industries (7%) were equally likely to have and not have libraries, and 18 industries (31%) were less likely to have libraries than to not have them. …

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