Introduction

This page is a work in progress. Suggestions and corrections are welcome. It is my intent to collect links to all such sources I can find on the Internet and I have begun with these. The links are to pages with publications of data. These publications are dynamic and all observations about them are as of this writing. The locations of these datasets change readily so you may have to look around if a link here does not work. I hope I have provided enough context for those cases where a search is necessary. But, things change. Among those are available data. Library data tend to disappear. In many cases, the list of date ranges of data do not include data I collected before they disappeared. In addition, data in obsolete digital formats or paper formats might as well be lost given the difficulties involved in using them.

I have include descriptions of efforts to assess libraries at the bottom. I realize that they don’t go here logically, but there is overlap with the BIX and the FOPL Index and I am working on this subject now.


Statistics from Public Libraries in Canada Comments
Canadian public library data are the responsibility of the provinces and territories Canadian public library data are available from agencies of the various Provinces and one association, the Canadian Urban Libraries Council/Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada (CULC/CBUC). These data vary considerably in scope and coverage. There is no national system of public library data outside the largest urban libraries from CULC/CBUC and there will be questions of comparability of these data between these various sources. That is, they collect different sets of things for different years and publish them in different formats. Those of British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario have the most useful data series.
Alberta Alberta’s Public Library Services Branch is in the Province’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs. This Branch has published annual data on its public libraries available here: https://www.alberta.ca/public-library-statistics.aspx. Data exist at least for 2005-2016. 2005 through 2008 are in PDF and subsequently in XLS. There are also reports on aspects of these libraries.
British Columbia British Columbia’s Libraries Branch conducts the Annual Survey of Public Libraries. The main data page is found in the BC Data Catalogue https://catalogue.data.gov.bc.ca/dataset/bc-public-libraries-statistics-2002-present (that is, 2018.) This page presents something truly excellent: an 17-year compilation of their public library data from 2002-2018. Note the fact that they publish the survey questionnaire.

From previous iterations of their data, I know that they have data back to 1999 but in PDF and the survey questions were published back to 2006 so there are more data from BC if they chose to make them available. Here is a one-page summary Infographic.

In the 2018 data, there are about 235 variables and 71 public libraries reported this year. There are 1,207 observations in the complete dataset (an observation include the data for one library for one year.

Manitoba The Manitoba Sport, Culture, and Heritage Department includes the Public Library Services Branch which is responsible for its data. This is another excellent series. Data are available on these libraries from 2008-2019 “Ready Reports” here: https://mb.countingopinions.com/index.php?page_id=4. The display format is in HTML but one can download XLS files and see graphs. This is an ingenious display method and I would say the best I have seen anywhere. The data are by categories so, for example, circulation statistics are separate from expenditures. If you want to look at them together, you will have work to do. There are also monthly reports available on the most recent month’s eBooks, circulation activity, newly registered users, and the number of checkouts via links at the bottom of the page. Monthly statistics are scarce in the library world but they can be quite useful if one can find them for extended periods.

Also a nice Google Map of libraries in the province: https://mb.countingopinions.com/locations.php?l=14702

New Brunswick New Brunswick Public Library Service is the province’s department responsible for support of the “network of public libraries in” the province. It’s Website: https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/nbpl.html. There are data in publications linked to at this page: https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/nbpl/about-us/publications.html. The data exist for five years: 2012-2013 to 2016-2017. The data are in the publications which are PDFs of the department’s annual. Extracting these data for analysis will be difficult.
Nova Scotia The Nova Scotia Provincial Library, offers services, among them “Managing the Public Library Data Collection that provides province-wide statistics for Nova Scotia’s libraries.” However, I cannot find any on its Website. There is a colorful Google map: http://library.novascotia.ca/map of those libraries that links to information on libraries including the address and a link to the libraries’ Website
Ontario Ontario’s Ministry of Heritage, Sport Tourism, and Culture Industries conducts the Annual Survey of Public Libraries The data are available at https://data.ontario.ca/dataset/ontario-public-library-statistics for 1999 through 2018. The data were originally published in PDF and in categories by topic (General Information, Key Ratios, Financial, Holdings, etc.) and by eight groups organized by size. There were about 72 separate reports per year. It is a large collection and assembling it into a dataset for analysis has presented a daunting problem until the data were released in CSV format for 1999-2010 by the Province’s open data initiative. The 1999 data have a good bit of data not included in the others but from 2000-2018, the data are in good order and have been assembled into a longitudinal dataset by the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries (FOPL) which has used the resulting “FOPL Dataset” in a variety of ways, including Projects & Reports.
Quebec Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec appears to be the agency for public library data. The link is to its English language page. there are various data compilations and reports here: https://www.stat.gouv.qc.ca/statistiques/culture/bibliotheques/publiques/index.html. Click on “Statistiques et publications” or this site may work. Wait a bit and a spreadsheet formatted display of summary data on Quebec’s public libraries for 2007 to 2017. The drop-down boxes allow varying the output. Nice. I am not sure how to capture these data if I were to want to analyze some aspect of the data that they are not organized for. This question bears investigation.
Saskatechewan Saskatchewan’s Provincial Library and Literacy Office is responsible for managing the province’s library resources. There no longer seems to be a direct link to the statistics page but by entering “library statistics” in the search box in the upper right, you get the list. The data are from 1997 through 2018 and in PDF of the summary publications. The 1997 data are the oldest public library data from Canada which are available on the Web, I believe. Unfortunately, they would be difficult to use for analysis in this format.
Canadian Urban Libraries Council/
Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada (CULC/CBUC)
CULC/CBUC membership is open to urban libraries or urban library districts which have populations over 100,000. There are 47 members currently listed. 42 from across Canada reported data to CULC/CBUC for 2018 as listed on its Key Performance Indicators page http://www.culc.ca/kpis/. The data presented there are for 2000-2018 although the page says that CULC and its predecessor collected data “for more than 20 years” but that language has not changed for at least 6 years. The data are in PDF as a publication. The latest is 2018 Canadian Public Library Statistics.

Canadian Academic Library Statistics Comments
Canadian Association of Research Libraries – Association des bibliothèques de recherche du Canada (CARL/ABRC) CARL currently has 29 university members and two federal government research libraries. Statistics are available in PDF format for the listed years of 1976-1977 through 2017-2018 academic years. CARL ABRC data are available at this page:
http://www.carl-abrc.ca/measuring-impact/statistics/. But “Statistical Spreadsheets” require a login. Note also there are links to spreadsheets for the Council of Atlantic University Libraries (CAUL), Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL), and the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL.) The first two require logins. These are detailed below.
Council of Atlantic University Libraries- Conseil des bibliothèques universitaires de l’Atlantique (CAUL-CBUA) CAUL-CBUA is made of 18 post-secondary libraries in Atlantic Canada. It is one of three other university associations which uses CARL-ABRC for support in its statistics publications and its data requires a login.
Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL) COPPUL has 22 university library members located in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia plus 18 affiliates that participate in e-resource licensing only. It has published data on its members from CARL/ABRC (http://www.coppul.ca/about-us) in PDF. There are four years from 2007-2008 through 2013-2014 academic years. The latest reports data for 21 of those members. These data appeared to be more detailed than the CARL/ABRC data. Now the link on the COPPUL page goes directly to CARL-ABRC to a page that requires a login
Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) OCUL is one of the associations of university libraries that CARL has a link to on its measuring-impact/statistics page but the link does not lead to a page requiring a login, but to a page with data. The range of years is from 1996-1997 to 2018-2019 academic years and the data are in spreadsheets. Data covered are expenditure and salaries most consistently but collections data are reported also.

Statistics from Libraries in Australia Comments
Australian Public Libraries’ Statistics The National and State Libraries (NSLA) publishes the Australian Public Libraries Statistical Report in PDF. This is not a national data series but one compiled for NSLA at the State Library of Queensland. The publications exist from 1996-97 through 2017-18.https://www.nsla.org.au/resources/annual-australian-public-library-statistics. The survey questionnaire for 2018-19 is available https://www.nsla.org.au/sites/default/files/documents/nsla-public-library-stats-survey-2018-19.pdf. There are other publications that exist that are no longer available from this site so the effort has more depth than can be seen here.
Australian Academic Libraries’ Statistics The Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) is the source for these data (“https://www.caul.edu.au/services-programs/statistics-services”.) The data exist in XLS format with various reports in PDF and have since 2009 included data from the Council of New Zealand University Librarians (CONZUL.) The data are available from 1983 through 2018. But read the note: there are two series, pre-2018 and current and there is a bit of confusion about the data’s being embargoed–or not–and several links do not work but the data can be extracted in CSV via a Web interface for 2018 and 2019 (which appears to be in progress as of this writing. There is a discussion of earlier data going back to 1953 but these do not appear to have been converted to digital format. This is a nice series with extras beyond just the data. The documentation looks excellent as well as crosswalks following the changes in variables over time.

Statistics from Public Libraries in New Zealand Comments
New Zealand Public Libraries’ Data Public Libraries of New Zealand has data on the approximately 300 public libraries. The data exist in XLS format for the years 2001-02 to 2015-16 but are not longer freely available from the Website. The spreadsheets are quite interesting and they count several things that no other series seems to count. It is one of the four major public library series that is still current. However, there is no discussion of the extent of the data and they have the right to do some bragging about what they have done. To request the 2018-19 data, one must fill out a form. I filled out the form and not had a reply. A Google map (http://www.publiclibraries.org.nz/FindALibrary.aspx) has links to a Google map of the country’s libraries.
New Zealand Academic Libraries’ Data The Council of New Zealand University Librarians (CONZUL) is a Committee of Universities New Zealand – Te Po-kai Tara. CONZUL published its member’s statistics from 1999 until the 2009 (
http://www.universitiesnz.ac.nz/aboutus/sc/conzul/statisticshttp://www.universitiesnz.ac.nz/aboutus/sc/conzul/statistics
.) In 2010, CONZUL data were included with those of the data from Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL). The data are in XLS format. Included are glossaries of terms and an introduction in PDF.

Statistics from Libraries in the Republic of Ireland Comments
Irish Public Libraries From 2002 through 2012, Irish public library data were compiled by the An Chomhairle Leabharlanna (Library Council) in two series. “Annual Actual Expenditure (2002-2011)” and “Annual Estimates of Expenditure” (2008-2012.) They were published as PDF files and data from 2002-2012 are available here: http://www.askaboutireland.ie/libraries/public-libraries/publications/public-library-statistics/.

The Council also published data for 1988 to 1998 but those data are no longer available on that Website. In October 2012, a reorganization dissolved the Council and its functions were moved under the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) in a new division: “Libraries Development.” The reporting of data seems to have ceased.

It a nicely done series and the publication of budget estimates along with the actual expenditures is an interesting idea. It is a sad fact that results from too many librarians not being numerate that we often have to rely on the kindness of strangers to collect our data and which they do for their own purposes, usually. When they lose interest in our data, the series may die. The library world is littered with discontinued data series.

There are indications in discussions on these sites that the library data collection/reporting was moved to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA) but CIPFA does not collect the data from the Republic of Ireland’s public libraries. [That information came via an email communication with the Senior Data Analyst, CIPFA Analytics and Research, 03/26/2020.]

Before the series was closed, the old Website mentioned the databases extend back to 1978 for actual expenditure and to 1987 for estimated expenditure.” It may be that this data set records annual public library data further back than any other series I am aware of.

Irish Academic Libraries Ireland’s major research libraries are members of the Consortium of National and University Libraries (CONUL). It has 13 members. The data from these libraries are apparently included with those of SCONUL (The Society of College, National, and University Libraries in the UK and Ireland.)

On its membership page it mentions that it has 182 members and that it includes in its range of services “collecting and publishing statistics from our member libraries, enabling benchmarking and other comparative analysis.” Information on the data is limited to a SCONUL statistics reports page which includes links to “Analyses drawn from the SCONUL Annual Statistics.” At the bottom of the page we learn that data are available to members but only available to non-members for purchase.


Statistics from Libraries in the United Kingdom Comments
Academic Libraries The SCONUL data were discussed immediately above with the section on the Irish Academic Library Statistics. Briefly, if your library is a member of SCONUL, you have access to the data as a part of your membership. If your library is not a member, you may purchase access to the data.
Public Libraries The Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA) https://www.cipfa.org/ has conducted a survey of the public libraries of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales for 50 years. At this writing, it is not clear how many of those years are in digital formats but the data have not been organized into a longitudinal dataset. There are so many collections of library data in formats that are pre-digital that it is not clear the extent of the CIPFA dataset. That said, a 50-year set of digital public library data, would be the longest public library series extent.

The data are in annual files and available for paid subscribers. An overview is available here:
https://www.cipfastats.net/leisure/publiclibrary/. The current survey questionnaire available (2019/20 Estimates and 2018/19 Actuals) at this site has a bit over 150 variables for the current ongoing survey.

The latest available annual data: Public Library Statistics 2018/19 Estimates and 2017/18 Actuals are available in an Excel spreadsheet for £450.
Background about CIPFAstats notes that CIPFA has worked for over a century “with local government services, currently undertaking 24 annual surveys of local authority operations.” Public libraries is one of its local authority operations.
https://www.cipfastats.net/cipfastats/ CIPFA also publishes “Profiles” of public libraries and since they are essentially assessment/report cards for libraries to compare their data to others, we discuss these in the Assessment section below.


Statistics from Libraries in Germany and Austria German library data is collected through the Deutsche Bibliotheksstatistik (DBS) [German Library Statistics] an elaborate data collection and reporting effort that includes Austrian library data. The collection includes libraries of several types: academic, public, special, and scientific. My German is not up to this but I looks to me like this is the main page: https://www.hbz-nrw.de/produkte/bibliotheksstatistik. The range of years of the data depend on which set of data one looks at. The maximum range appears to be 1999 to 2018. The data are accompanied by documentation, errata, and other related items.

For German library data, go here: https://service-wiki.hbz-nrw.de/display/DBS/DBS+-+Deutsche+Bibliotheksstatistik Note that one collection listed there is in English. 1999-2011 (at least) were also issued in both languages. That looks like the way to match library terminology in German with English. These data no longer appear to be on this site.

Austrian library data are here: https://service-wiki.hbz-nrw.de/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=99811359


Assessment, report cards, new measures

This is a tentative collection of sites and publications discussing methods for assessing libraries or ranking them. This is not an exhaustive treatment but I hope it gives an indication or how important such questions are in the library world. There are ranking schemes more sophisticated and which rank quantitative and qualitative variables together in the same index. It can be done.

BIX (German Library Assessment) Interwoven with the German data collection is BIX (Der Bibliotheksindex) [The Library Index.] BIX covered public and academic libraries thoughout the country and benchmarks libraries by peer group (size). The system covered 2,000 public libraries and 240 academics. Basic information in English is here: Project information.

“BIX consists of 17 indicators for academic and 18 indicators for public libraries. They were divided into four dimensions: services, usage, efficiency and development. BIX-results showed the situation of each library in each of the four dimensions: it is situated either in the top, middle or lower third of all libraries in Germany. The results are represented by a colour code and aggregated to a ‘star’-system, four stars being the maximum result.”

“On 23 July 2015 the board of the German Library Association (dbv) and the management of the North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center (hbz) decided that this year’s BIX, the 16th publication of the index, would be the last one.”

This effort was designed to rate libraries by explicit criteria but not to present the raw data. However, the method is what we focus on here and it uses similar methods to other such ratings. That is, the use of dimensions of library activities and summary rankings of those dimensions.


HAPLR Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings (https://hennenlibrary.org/haplr-overview/. Tom Hennen has many years as a public library employee and director. The Index was based on data from the IMLS US Public Libraries Survey. It included input and output measures.

He developed the Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings (HAPLR 1.0) method in 2010. Hennen’s American Public Library Research (HAPLR 2.0) dates from 2017.

Tom and Valarie Hennen are retiring or have retired. The related notes that the sites are being closed and the HAPLR site has been folded into https://hennenlibrary.org/. Unhappily, it appears that Tom’s analysis is disappearing. It is often thoughtful and original thinking on library data by a practitioner.

The Website had a great deal of information on rankings with an explicit acknowledgement of the BIX in his thinking of the design of HAPLR, how HAPLR is constructed, and also on the LJIndex. The discussion of the on the HAPLR site and the HAPLR Index in the discussions of the LJ Index’s construction was interesting, thoughtful, informative, and gone. There was a good bit of heat over this question but also a bit of light. See below.


LJ Index The 2017 LJ Index of Public Library Service was published in December, 2017, the tenth edition. For the first 8 years, the Index was based on four output measures from the IMLS Public Libraries Survey data: circulation, library visits, program attendance, and public Internet computer use. In the 2016 edition, circulation of electronic materials was added and became the fifth statistic. In the 2019 edition, WiFi sessions became the sixth statistic to be included in the Index.

The index uses star rankings which are assigned to US public libraries in a system similar to the BIX. The tenth edition included a list of all-time stars—libraries that had earned five Stars as well as any Stars all 10 years.

This index was developed by Keith Curry Lance and Ray Lyons. The earlier article contains a discussion of the thinking behind the construction of this index. Ray’s blog Lib(rary) Performance has an article that touches on a methodological issue between this Index and HAPLR: “Ain’t Misbehavin’! Uneven LJ Index Score Ranges Are More Informative.” The LJIndex has been published by Library Journal annually.


The FOPL Index The Federation of Ontario Public Libraries (FOPL) is discussed above. To review: FOPl produced the FOPL Dataset, a longitudinal recompilation of the annual statistics publications by Ontario’s Ministry which compiles and publishes the data. Like HAPLR and the BIX, it has dimensions and variables—including three of the LJIndex variables. But, it differs from the HAPLR and LJIndexes in that it uses the FOPL Dataset which has 402 variables ever reported versus PLDF3 which has 145 variables ever reported. The FOPL Index has a more future-oriented approach in that it uses variables not available in the US dataset. It is used for peer comparisons. The library seeking such a comparision will choose the peers it wishes to be compared to. The criteria can be of the library’s choosing such as size, locality, etc. In addition, often a group of libraries might be added for a second comparison. In addition, if something interesting shows up, an additional analysis may include data from previous years. For more information, write Stephen Abram, Executive Director of FOPL: sabram@fopl.ca.

FOPL Reports are issued after the updates to the FOPL Databases are completed. There are a number of rank order tables where all libraries in Ontario are put in order by a variable such as: circulations per capita, expenditures per capita, and so on. This is a common method of analyzing library data and occurs in several of the efforts listed here.


Rankings and Antonio Balbi We know from very early studies of libraries that data were used to brag about one’s library. Any LIS student who took a history of libraries course would read about the back and forth between the libraries at Alexandria and Pergamom. In living memory, similar discussions occurred about which is the largest library at least in the 1970s: The Library of Congress or the National Library of Russia.

The oldest modern honors must go to Adriano Balbi who wrote A Statistical Essay of the Libraries of Vienna and the World. There are two sources for this seminal work. One is a 1986 translation published by McFarland Publishing and available at Amazon. The second is Public Libraries in the United States of America, Part 1, [The 1876 Report.] Turn to page 745:
https://archive.org/details/publiclibrariesi04unit/page/744/

Balbi’s point was that he wanted to prove that the libraries in Vienna were the best in the world. He thought he would collect data and those data would show that Vienna’s libraries were the biggest and, hence, the best. To that end, he collected data from what I have referred to as “unsystematic” sources. Author A wrote of his travels and in 1820, was in Vienna, visited the library and reported it had X volumes and Y manuscripts. Then, later, Author B came by in 1828 and said there were Z volumes, etc. etc. Most of this article is tables of the various values reported by many different authors of major European libraries over a bevy of years. This is what happens when you don’t have systematic sources—sources that collect data regularly—typically year after year for libraries.

Now, look to page 756 for what I think is one of the signal observations in all of LIS data analysis. After surveying the mess and being no closer to his goal after all that work, he said:

Disheartened by this surprising disparity of opinion, we have more than once been upon the point of abandoning so difficult a subject…

Read on for the rest of that paragraph. I always chuckle at that because anyone who works in data is prone to being disheartened on occasion. I also know that Antonio Balbi walked the walk.


The Gerould Data James Thayer Gerould gave a talk at the 1906 ALA meeting about “A Plan for the Compilation of Comparative University and College Library Statistics.” It being ALA, nothing happened. Undaunted, our hero started publishing his own collection starting for the 1907/08 academic year. He continued on, starting as Director of the University of Minnesota Library and then moving to Princeton as Director there, too. The story is told https://www.libqual.org/documents/admin/2012/1998_Molyneux_Gerould.pdf in greater detail.

The technology used to collect and publish the data varied and the early years are typed. Then came mimeograph. These early typed and mimeograph distribution copies in archives show handwritten ranking by the various variables. In other cases, there are copies retyped locally mostly in order by volumes held. In time, these Gerould data were taken over by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) which to this day publishes tables with its member libraries in order by the various variables.


Rank Order Tables The current Public Libraries Survey is heir to a series that started in 1987. From the data for FY 1995, there has been a series published of “State Ranking Tables” which have, over the years, been surprisingly consistent. They have the libraries of the several states (including DC) ranked by around 20 variables in a manner similar to the ARL data publications. The number of those variables varies from time to time but not much over those years. Why these variables? I posit that the State Librarians have focussed on these key variables because they are a part of the central core of the data that describe libraries’ behavior. These variables are not random and the State Librarians are a critical part of the support for this data effort and these variables are important to them. The published tables exist as ranks, by state, of these 20 or so variables. There are no dimensions or cumulative ranks. Just 20 or so ranks by state and consistently over time.

CIPFA Profiles Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA) was discussed above. One of its initiatives is
“Profiles” to compare libraries. The Profiles page has a discussion of what is involved. Members also have access to an interactive tool to help in comparative analysis with other libraries. Registration is free and gives one access to more information on their profiles. Note the End User License Agreement.