Library Data Archive

Robert E. Molyneux


The Library Research Service has graciously offered to house this archive of digital data and reports on U.S. libraries by 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 Library Survey which continues the public library data series without interruption.

For the past few years, what has been available in this Archive were two kinds of digital publications. 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 and this is the emphasis of this Archive.

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 publications 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 2014. Updated through FY 2014.
State Summary/State Characteristics Data File (PUSUM) Longitudinal compilation of summary data on public libraries at the state level, FY 1992-FY 2014. Updated through FY 2014.
Raw data, documentation, reports, and summary analysis of public libraries A number of current and historical publications about these libraries is available.
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.
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.

Introduction to the NCES/IMLS Data

The U.S. government through various agencies been involved in the compilation of library data since before the celebrated 1876 report: Public Libraries in the United States of America. NCES and IMLS continue an old tradition.

The publications here were opportunistically collected from a number of sources. Most came from the NCES Web site over time. It is a curiosity of working with library data that publications with data and reports about libraries derived from those data tend to disappear—in the old days to musty library shelves but these days, often, the memory hole. One might suppose that librarians who house, organize, and archive the world's publications might treat their own data similarly but that is not the way it is. Moreover, government agencies often do not archive data for very long. As a former Webmaster at a federal agency, there was always the worry about having obsolete information which might mislead someone. In any case, this Archive has copies of digital publications that in many cases took effort to locate and the cooperation of many people.

Public library data for 1987-1991 were no longer on the NCES site and, as indicated, came from other sources, largely from Kim Miller then at NCLIS who had collected almost everything. Similarly, a number the older data publications such as documentation and reports had gone missing and ferreting them out took some time and effort. Early NCES publications that had been scanned—mostly by the good folks at NCES—and were sent to me are also included here.

As mentioned, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has taken over the collection of the public library data and state library data from NCES. There is page for IMLS's public library data effort IMLS's page on State Library Administrative Agency survey (SLAA) will have current information on this series. As mentioned, publications about this latter type are not currently included in this Archive.

Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research

The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research ICPSR, a part of the Institute for Social Research, is located on the University of Michigan Campus. ICPSR maintains an archive of social science data. A number of files of library data in the PLDF3 file came from ICPSR, which processed them on behalf of NCES. When I was looking for the early years of the FSCS data, these were available on the ICSPR site and I collected them. I also discovered other data on other types of libraries, particularly historical academic data files and these data are available here, also. A spreadsheet lists all the files from ICPSR.

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

The linked page is a work in progress. I have collected links to data sources I have worked with so this is an opportunistic sample I hope to build on. I have collected these data. It seems that library data tend to disappear. While looking at BIX (Der Bibliotheksindex)—an English-language project page gives the scope of the index. I read in detail about the LJIndex and HAPLR and the discussion about them. See the linked page for these data sources.

September 25, 2016

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