U.S. Public Library Performance
A data interactive exploring a universe sample of public libraries in the United States from 2007-2016
Amanda Vander Wal, M.S., Department of Mathematics
Xiaoyue Cheng, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Mathematics
Josie Gatti Schafer, Ph.D., director, Center for Public Affairs Research
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Public libraries are central to the social and educational culture of communities throughout the United States. However, their institutional status in our communities may cause many to overlook what they do and how they do it. In fact, since 2007, most libraries operating revenue has declined while their performance on a variety of metrics, including total number of programs operated per year and attendance at those events has generally increased. This data interactive allows us to explore the performanceand operationsof a universal sample of public libraries over time, 2007–2016.
Source: The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) collects data from public libraries in the United States and its territories through an annual survey, the Public Library Survey(PLS). The PLS provides information on the use, performance, and operations of publiclibraries. The PLS has been collected annually since 1988. The data is available in two versions: a publicly available data set and a restricted-use data set. In this research, we used the public data set as it is available to all users, but some of the information has been suppressed for privacy reasons. The public data set is available at https://www.imls.gov/research-evaluation/data-collection/public-libraries-survey for each year since 1992. The data set for each year contains three data files: Public Library System Data File, Public Library State Summary Data File, Public Library Outlet Data File. This research project includes a total of 21 data files; years 2007 to 2016 from both the Library System and State Summary data files as well as the 2016 Outlet data file.