Background and Introduction to the Data | Data | Documentation | Publications about public libraries | Reports | Datasets: PLDF3, PUSUM


Robert E. Molyneux


Introduction to the Archive

The Library Research Service has graciously offered to house this archive of digital data and reports on U.S. libraries largely from two agencies of the U.S. government: the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The NCES-sponsored program behind the collection and publication of the public library data was known as the Federal State Cooperative System (FSCS). See this useful timeline of this program for more information. Having watched this effort from close up, I can say it was an impressive organization that functioned well. IMLS continues a similar program as the Public Libraries Survey which continues the public library data series without interruption.

There were two kinds of digital publications in this Archive originally. One type of publication was updated longitudinal files of U.S. public library data recompiled from annual data published by NCES and IMLS and the second was the raw data, documentation of those data, and reports derived from them by those two agencies. Now we are adding data, documentation, and reports on two other types of libraries compiled and published by NCES.

The context of the expansion of this Archive

This collection began when I was at the now-closed National Commission of Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) and reflects work by a number of people both at NCLIS and also at other places, most notably NCES. There are also a number of other reports and compilations done by library associations, of course, but the data here are all in the public domain and, hence, freely available for use by anyone interested.

There were three CDs issued by NCLIS of the data in the waning days of the Commission which included the results of this collection of raw data, reports, and such on U.S. libraries by NCES. The CDs covered several types of libraries including academic libraries, what we now call school library media centers (SLMC), and State Library Agencies (that is, state libraries.) This Archive now includes the NCES publications on the academic and SLMCs collected on those CDs as well as new data and reports collected since the CDs were issued.

All materials in this archive are in the public domain.

Currently you will find here digital records about:

U.S. Public Libraries Comments
Public Library Data File (PLDF3) Longitudinal data of a universe file of U.S. public libraries, FY 1987-FY 2018.
State Summary/State Characteristics Data File (PUSUM) Longitudinal compilation of summary data on public libraries at the state level, FY 1992-FY 2018..
Raw data, documentation, reports, and summary analysis of public libraries A number of current and historical publications about these libraries is available. This is an opportunistic collection and is but a fraction of such publications. Would that librarians took as good care of their data and data publications as we do of data and publications from other fields.
U.S. Academic Libraries Comments
Raw data, documentation, reports, and summary analysis of these academic libraries not only from the current Academic Library Survey but also from earlier series. A substantial number of current and historical publications about these libraries is available from a variety of series and sources. This collection is also opportunistic.
U.S. School Library Media Centers Comments
A small collection but what we found. Even through there are 100,000+ of these libraries, there is not much available. The very size of this important universe makes analyzing it difficult.

Sources of Library Data Outside the United States and a Look at Assessment of Libraries

The linked page is a work in progress and is as of September, 2016 although I have been working with Canadian public library data in some detail. I have collected links to data sources I have worked with so this is an sample I hope to build on. I have also collected these data. It seems that library data tend to disappear without an archiving effort and that fact was the proximate cause of my starting this exercise about 20 years ago or so. The library world would benefit from an agency that performs the ICPSR function for our data. I believe that I will add data from two public library data collections from two countries that appear to have stopped their data reporting. One has taken their data down.

While looking at BIX (Der Bibliotheksindex)—an English-language project page gives the scope of the index although, sadly, the BIX has closed. I read in detail about the LJIndex and HAPLR and the discussion about them. See the linked page for these data sources.