Data revision history

State Summary/State Characteristics Longitudinal Data File (PUSUM)

Robert E. Molyneux


This page documents a longitudinal set of state summary public library data constructed from two sources. One is the annual Public Library Survey formerly collected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) under the Federal State Cooperative System (FSCS) program and more recently from the continuing series published by the Institute of Museum and Library services through the Public Library Statistics Cooperative (PLSC). This compilation is of the State Summary/State Characteristics Data File, that is Public Use Summary (hence, I conclude, PUSUM which convention NCES and IMLS have named files in this series). The dataset now contains 1,204 observations (an observation being summary data from the libraries in one state for one year), with 76 variables per observation, although not all variables were collected all years. These data are from the states, the District of Columbia, and occasionally territories.

The summary data were originally compiled and published for the years Fiscal Year (FY) 1987-FY 2014 although for reasons discussed shortly, the set of data discussed here only has the data from FY 1992-FY 2014 or 23 years. The data are available in formats discussed at the bottom of the page under Distribution and Formats.

The state summary data are fundamentally different from the Public Library Data File which is a compilation of data from over 10,000 public libraries collected from FY 1987-FY 2014. While PLDF3 is designed to have only unimputed data from all the public libraries, PUSUM includes imputed data.

These summary data are the result of analyzing aspects of those data and other data. Given that not all libraries respond to all survey items, NCES and IMLS have used imputation techniques to compensate for those missing data. Documentation is carried in the various sources cited in the list of NCES and IMLS Public Library Survey publications elsewhere on this site. PUSUM contains imputed data given that it is attempting to compensate for the missing values for purposes of arriving at national assessments of the state of public libraries. Knowing this, could you replicate these summary data using the Public Library Data File either in its unimputed or imputed forms? Probably not. The documentation on how the imputations were done is improving but does involve data that are masked in the Public Library Data file for privacy reasons so IMLS has access to data suppressed for individual libraries. Data are suppressed in smaller libaries, for instance, salary information when the staff is sufficiently small to cause a privacy concern. Of course, you could do your own imputations. More telling, though, is the fact that these summary files are also constructed using the Restricted Use data, in part. These data are not available for public use. The great value of PUSUM is assessing the state of public libraries in the U.S. on national and state-levels. Without imputations, there are very few data in this series so I compile them with the imputations. For a universe survey attempting to give the state of the nation's libraries, this is the series to use.

A further complication follows from this practice of imputation. The documentation for several years (here 2011) specifically warns in the same language:

Comparisons to data prior to FY 1992 should be made with caution, as earlier data files do not include imputations for nonresponse, and the percentage of libraries responding to a given item varied widely among states. (p. 4)

According to the documentation from earlier years, there are supposed to be summary data from FY 1987-FY 1991. 1991 is made up of a summary from the reporting libraries so that comparing FY 1991 with FY 1992 is likely to show discontinuities that are an artifact of the imputations themselves and not from any change in the characteristics of those libraries. For FY 1987-FY 1989, in spite of the documentation's saying there are summary data, they are sketchy. FY 1987 has a few variables reported for the 19 states' summaries reported. Summary data for FY 1988 were not with the rest of the FY 1988 data and I don't know where they are. FY 1989 does have summary data in a separate file as does FY 1990. All imputations could be taken out of the post-1992 data but experimenting with that idea resulted in derivative datasets with very few values. So, we get some data imputed by methods that are becoming clearer but still not unambiguous or we get vanishly few data.


The tables below list the variables that were dealt with in constructing PUSUM. The intent was to group all like variables in the various years in one variable name. Rarely was there any ambiguity in reading the documentation from year to year.

Two variables have been added to each year's data in order to ease processing: state and year. (NCES/IMLS variables are in upper case while any non-NCES/IMLS variables are in italics. year was hard coded in one of the programs and is the nominal year of reporting and the same as the fiscal year that appears on publications. The NCES/IMLS library data have been issued as annual publications without explicit acknowledgement in the data of previous years or years that might follow although an infrastructure which allows this practice has improved steadily over the years. For PUSUM, creation of a longitudinal file is relatively straightforward. State is the two-digit postal code. This variable was made from various variables in the dataset as noted below. For recent years, it has been derived from STABR

A spreadsheet in two formats (pusum_variables.ods, pusum_variables.xlsx) presents these variables in a more portable format.

The following table has details on the variables in PUSUM. The convention followed is to use the 2014 variable name except where the data are no longer collected and the short definitions and notes come, largely, from the documentation for FY 2011. The wording differs on occasion for variables documented in the earlier years but the definitions overall are pretty consistent. Imputation flags listed in the documentation in Appendix G are not included in this list nor in PUSUM.

As a general rule, the improvements over time in this series and PLDF3 are notable and commendable but, of course, they started from a high level. Both of these series have excellent documentation so anyone using them owes thanks to many people.

Identification Variables
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
state Two-letter State Code ALL Created from STABR Used for processing.
year Year of data collection ALL Inserted by code Used for processing.
STABR Two-letter Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) State Code ALL STABR (1992-) See PUB_FIPS, below.
Population Variables
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
POPU_LSA Population of the Legal Service Area ALL POPU (1992-97)
POPU_LSA (1998-)
POPU_UND Unduplicated population of the legal service area for the library (constructed variable). ALL PERIOD_POP (1992-1997)
POPU_UND (1998-)
POPU_ST Official state population estimate ALL PERIOD_EST (1992-1997)
POPU_ST (1998-)
Service Outlets
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
CENTLIB Number of central libraries ALL CENTLIB (1992-)  
BRANLIB Number of branch libraries ALL BRANLIB (1992-)  
BKMOB Number of bookmobiles ALL BKMOB (1992-)  
Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Paid Staff
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
MASTER ALA-MLS Librarians ALL MASTER (1992-)  
LIBRARIA Total number of FTE employees holding the title of librarian. ALL LIBRARIAN (1992-97)
LIBRARIA (1998-)
OTHPAID All other paid FTE employees. ALL OTHPAID (1992-)  
TOTSTAFF Total paid FTE employees ALL TOTEMP (1992-97)
TOTSTAFF (1998-)
Operating Income
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
LOCGVT Operating income from local government ALL LOCGVT (1992-)  
STGVT Operating income from state government ALL STGVT (1992-)  
FEDGVT Operating income from federal government ALL FEDGVT (1992-)  
OTHINCM Other operating income (i.e., income not included in LOCGVT, STGVT, and FEDGVT) ALL OTHINCM (1992-)  
TOTINCM Total income (Sum of LOCGVT, STGVT, FEDGVT, and OTHINCM) ALL TOTINCM (1992-)  
Operating Expenditures
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
SALARIES Salaries and wages for all library staff ALL SALARIES (1992-)  
BENEFIT Employee benefits for all library staff ALL BENEFIT (1992-)  
STAFFEXP Total staff expenditures (SALARIES plus BENEFIT) ALL TOTEXP (1992-97)
STAFFEXP (1998-)
PRMATEXP Operating expenditures for print materials (including books, serial back files, current serial subscriptions, government documents) 2003- PRMATEXP (2003-)  
ELMATEXP Operating expenditures for library materials in electronic format 1995- ELMATEXP (1995-)  
OTHMATEX Operating expenditures for all other library materials (microform, audio, video, DVD, and new formats) 2003- OTHMATEX (2003-)  
TOTEXPCO Total expenditures on library collections. ALL TOTEXPCOL (1992-97)
TOTEXPCO (1998-)
OTHOPEXP Other operating expenditures (i.e., expenditures not included in STAFFEXP and TOTEXPCO) ALL OTHOPEXP (1992-)  
TOTOPEXP Total operating expenditures (Sum of STAFFEXP, TOTEXPCO, and OTHOPEXP) ALL TOTOEXP1 (1992-97)
TOTOPEXP (1998-)
Capital Expenditures
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
CAPITAL Expenditures for capital outlay ALL CAPITAL (1992-)  
Capital Revenue
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
CAP_REV Capital revenue for major capital expenditures 2003- CAP_REV (2003-)  
FCAP_REV Federal government capital revenue 2005- FCAP_REV (2005-)  
LCAP_REV Local government capital revenue 2005- LCAP_REV (2005-)  
OCAP_REV Other capital revenue 2005- OCAP_REV (2005-)  
SCAP_REV State government capital revenue 2005- SCAP_REV (2005-)  
Library Collections
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
BKVOL Number of books and serial volumes ALL BKVOL (1992-)  
EBOOK Electronic books (E-books) (digital documents, including non-serial government documents in digital format) 2003- EBOOK (2003-)  
AUDIO Number of audio materials 1992-2009 AUDIO (1992-2009)  
AUDIO_DL Audio - downloadable titles 2010- AUDIO_DL (2010-)  
AUDIO_PH Audio - physical units 2010- AUDIO_PH (2010-)  
VIDEO Number of video materials 1992-2009 VIDEO (1992-2009)  
VIDEO_DL Video - downloadable titles 2010- VIDEO_DL (2010-)  
VIDEO_PH Video - physical units 2010- VIDEO_DL (2010-)  
DB_LOC Locally licensed databases 2006-2010 DB_OTH (2006-2010)  
DB_LO_OT Local/Other cooperative agreements 2012- DB_OTH (2012-)  
DB_ST State licensed databases 2006- DB_ST (2006-)  
DB_OTH Other licensed databases 2006-2010 DB_OTH (2006-2010)  
DATABASE Databases (locally mounted or remote, full-text or not, for which temporary or permanent access rights have been acquired) 2003- DATABASE (2003-)  
SUBSCRIP Number of current serial subscriptions ALL SUBSCRIPT (1992-97)
SUBSCRIP (1998-)
ESUBSCRP Current electronic serial subscriptions 2003-2009 ESUBSCRP (2003-2009)  
Public Service Hours
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
HRS_OPEN Total annual public service hours for all service outlets ALL DUPLI (1992-97) HRS_OPEN (1998-)  
Library Services
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
VISITS Total annual library visits ALL ATTEND (1992-1997)
VISITS (1998-)
ATTEND was defined as "Annual attendance in library" which, I understand, is regarded as the same as VISITS today.
REFERENC Total annual reference transactions ALL REFERENCE (1992-1997)
REFERENC (1998-)
REGBOR Registered Borrowers 2006- REGBOR (2006-  
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
TOTCIR Total annual circulation transactions ALL TOTCIR (1992-)  
KIDCIRCL Total annual circulation (including renewals) of all children's materials in all formats to all users ALL KIDCIRCL (1992-)  
ELMATCIR Circulation of electronic materials 2013- ELMATCIR (2013-)  
Inter-Library Loans
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
LOANTO Total annual loans provided to other libraries ALL LOANTO (1992-)  
LOANFM Total annual loans received from other libraries ALL LOANFM (1992-)  
Library Services
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
TOTATTEN Total annual attendance at all library programs. 2004- TOTATTEN (2004-)  
KIDATTEN Total annual attendance at all programs intended primarily for children. Includes adults who attend programs intended primarily for children. ALL KIDATTEN (1992-)  
YAATTEN Total audience at all young adult programs. 2009- YAATTEN (2009-)  
TOTPRO Total library programs. 2004- TOTPRO (2004-)  
KIDPRO Total children's programs. 2005- KIDPRO (2005-)  
YAPRO Total young adult programs. 2009- YAPRO (2009-)  
Electronic Technology
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
ELACCEXP Operating expenditures for electronic access 1995-2002 ELACCEXP (1995-2002)  
ELMATS Number of library materials in electronic format 1995-2002 ELMATS (1995-2002)  
STFTERMS Internet terminals used by staff only 1998-2002 STFTERMS (1998-2002)  
GPTERMS Internet terminals used by general public 1998- GPTERMS (1998-)  
ERES_USR Users of electronic resources per typical week 1999-2005 ERES_USR (1999-2005)  
PITUSR Users of public Internet terminals per year 2006- PITUSR (2006)  
Variable Short definition Years History Notes
STARTDAT Reporting period start date ALL PERIOD_PSM (1992-1997)
STARTDAT (1998-)
Month/year format, for example: "07/2003"
ENDDAT Reporting period end date ALL PERIOD_PEM (1992-1997)
ENDDAT (1998-)
Month/year format, for example: "06/2003"
PUB_FIPS Two-digit FIPS State Code. ALL PUB_FIPS (1992-2008) This is a numerical code (Alabama = 01). STABR uses a character state code (Alabama = AL).
YR_SUB FSCS submission year of public library data in four-digit format (YYYY) ALL YR (1992-97) + 1900
YR_SUB (1998-)
YR is a two-digit year format and YR_SUB is four digits.
OBEREG Bureau of Economic Analysis Code ALL OBEREG (1992-) 00–U.S. Service Schools
01–New England (CT ME MA NH RI VT)
02–Mid East (DE DC MD NJ NY PA)
03–Great Lakes (IL IN MI OH WI)
04–Plains (IA KS MN MO NE ND SD)
05–Southeast (AL AR FL GA KY LA MS NC SC TN VA WV)
06–Southwest (AZ NM OK TX)
07–Rocky Mountains (CO ID MT UT WY)
08–Far West (AK CA HI NV OR WA)
09–Outlying Areas (AS FM GU MH MP PR PW VI)

Distribution and Formats

Available formats
Format Filename Size
CSV pusum.csv 454KB
LibreOffice Calc (ODF) pusum.ods 504KB
Excel pusum.xlsx 493KB

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