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Library Statistics

Links to sites with library statistics and reports analyzing those statistics

Highlight: Rural Libraries in America

New Research Brief based on 2018 PLS data
The Use and Cost of Public Library Materials: Trends Before the COVID-19 Pandemic
In FY2017 IMLS made available an infographic and workbook presenting analyses of rural public library services and indicators. Files can be downloaded below or on the IMLS website.
A recent project, led by Southern Tier Library System, and funded by IMLS, also highlights the impact of rural libraries in the United States. The Rural Library Service & Social Wellbeing Project used a mixed-methods approach to demonstrate the impact that rural libraries have on communities. In addition to presenting case studies, the project is also developing qualitative tools for measuring outcomes and impact.
Watch a webinar discussing the project below, or find further information and resources through the Research Institute for Public Libraries blog.

Thanks to Yana Demireva at the Maryland State Library for the Rural Libraries in America info. Maryland statistics are located here.

Finding Public LIbraries

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has created a tool which will let you locate any public library in the United
States. You can look by name, location, or by comparable statistics. The tool is called "Library Search and Compare."
It is possible to compare libraries based on statistical categories as well. Data categories include:
  • Population served
  • Local (Urban, Rural, Town, Suburban)
  • Legal basis (county, municipal, association, etc.)
  • Number of branches
  • Circulation
  • Revenue
  • Staff
  • Visits
  • Library program attendance

US National Statistics

The Public Libraries Survey (PLS) provides statistics on the status of public libraries in the United States. The data are collected from approximately 9,000 public libraries with approximately 17,000 individual public library outlets in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and outlying territories. Data includes information about library visits, circulation, size of collections, public service hours, staffing, electronic resources, operating revenues and expenditures and number of service outlets.
The data has been collected annually since 1988. Currently the data is collected by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) FY2005 and earlier the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducted the Public Libraries Surveys and produced the data files.

Quick links to IMLS data
Recent summary reports using national Public Libraries Survey data, as well as recent Louisiana state profiles, are available for download. Quick links are below to the reports on the Institute of Museum & Library Services website. Historic reports (FY15 and prior) and profiles for all states can be accessed on the IMLS website.
IMLS Annual Reports on Public Libraries

State Profile Infographics for Louisiana

Library Statistics from Other States

Library Research Service logo
The Library Research Service (Colorado) has a page with links to public library statistics published on
state library web sites.

Edge Initiative

Edge Logo
Led by the Urban Libraries Council, the Edge Initiative was developed by a national coalition of leading library and local government organizations and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since 2011, the Edge Coalition has worked to create this professional tool and ensure its value for all libraries and communities.
Launched publicly in 2014, the first generation of Edge focused on public access technology and the activities carried out by the library that support community priorities related to public access technology. Over 2,700 libraries across the U.S. and Canada used Edge to better align their resources and activities to community technology priorities.
In 2018, the Urban Libraries Council completely revised Edge to give libraries the means to better serve their communities in the face of technology’s evolving impacts on society.
Edge is led by the Urban Libraries Council

Project Outcome

Project Outcome logo
Measuring outcomes helps libraries answer the question, “What good did we do?”  Project Outcome is managed by PLA and builds upon a 2013 initiative led by then-PLA president Carolyn Anthony. A description is here:
Project Outcome is a free toolkit offering libraries access to training, data analytics, and standardized surveys that measure outcomes in key library service areas. That web site is here: