Public Libraries in the United States Survey, 2016-2018 (ICPSR 37992)

Version Date: Oct 7, 2021 View help for published

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Institute of Museum and Library Services

https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR37992.v1

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The Public Libraries Survey (PLS) is a voluntary census of public libraries conducted annually by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, 2017, and 2018 surveys are the 28th, 29th, and 30th in the series, respectively. The American Institutes for Research (AIR) served as the data collection agent for all three surveys.

The PLS data files include all public libraries identified by state library administrative agencies in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the outlying territories of American Samoa and Guam. The Northern Mariana Islands participated in FY 2017 and FY 2018, and the U.S. Virgin Islands participated in FY 2018. The reporting unit in each state or territory for the survey is the administrative entity (AE), defined as the agency that is legally established under local or state law to provide public library service to the population of a local jurisdiction. In this survey, the terms public library and public library system mean an AE. The AE may have a single outlet or multiple outlets. The term "outlet" refers to a library point of service, which may be a physical building, bookmobile, or a books-by-mail provider. Each PLS collected the following information:

  • Data from each public library, such as its name and address, population of legal service area, service outlets, collections, full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff, and operating revenue and expenditures (see Appendix F). These data were reported in the AE record.
  • State characteristics data, including the state total population estimate, the total unduplicated population of legal service areas for the state, and the state's reporting period start and end dates (see the survey questionnaire in Appendix F, items 100-103). Each state library administrative agency reported these data in the state characteristics record because they are not library-level data.
  • Data from each public library service outlet, such as its name and address, type, county location, square footage, public service hours per year, and number of weeks it is open (see Appendix F). These data were reported in the outlet record.

This data collection is useful to researchers, journalists, the public, and policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels. These data are used by federal, state and local officials, professional associations, and local practitioners for planning, evaluation, and policy making.

Institute of Museum and Library Services. Public Libraries in the United States Survey, 2016-2018. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2021-10-07. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR37992.v1

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Institute of Museum and Library Services

Census block

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
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2016, 2017, 2018
2017-01-17 -- 2017-08-18, 2018-01-10 -- 2018-08-17, 2019-01-09 -- 2019-08-16

The data provided here were acquired from IMLS and include only the public-use versions of the data. IMLS has suppressed some data in these files, in order to protect privacy and to prevent disclosure of individual information. If users require access to this suppressed information, they should contact IMLS at LibraryStats@imls.gov about procedures for obtaining access to the restricted-use data files.

Users are encouraged to review all documentation prior to using these data. For information on changes made to these data by ICPSR, please see the ICPSR Processing Notes in the ICPSR Variable Description and Frequencies documents.

Numeric fields may contain negative numbers, such as "-1". "-2", or "-3". These indicate that the value is "null" (or "blank"), and may mean that the data are missing, not applicable, or suppressed to protect confidentiality. See the Record Layouts in the User Guide for more information. Check for fields that contain negative numbers before using averages, sums, or other calculations or aggregations of data.

In this survey, the terms public library and public library system mean an administrative entity. The administrative entity may have a single outlet or multiple outlets (single- and multiple-outlet libraries that do not have a central outlet are listed in Appendix E of the User Guide). The data for a multiple-outlet library are combined.

For information on the collection data collection dates, see "Table 2. Reporting Periods of Public Libraries: FY 2016", "Table 2. Reporting Periods of Public Libraries: FY 2017", "Table 2. Reporting Periods of Public Libraries: FY 2018" in the User Guides.

State data comparisons should be made with caution because of differences in reporting periods (see Table 2 in the User Guides) and adherence to survey definitions. The definitions used by some states in collecting data from their public libraries may not be consistent with the PLS definitions.

Since the District of Columbia is not a state, special care should be used in comparing data for a city to state data. Caution should also be used in comparing Hawaii's data to other states as all public library data are reported under one entity, the Hawaii State Public Library System.

The data include imputations, at the unit and item levels, for non-responding libraries. For a discussion of the imputation methodology, see the Imputation section of the User Guides.

This is a cumulative release of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Public Libraries in the United States Survey data. Past Public Libraries in the United States Survey datasets have been released annually as single year releases. The fiscal years present in this release can be found in that format via the IMLS website. The surveys from 2013 (ICPSR 36471), 2014 (ICPSR 36783), and 2015 (ICPSR 37119) are also available from the ICPSR.
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IMLS research for PLS is designed to provide consistent, reliable, complete, and accurate indicators of the status and trends in public library services; and to report timely, useful, and high-quality data to Congress, the states, other policymakers, practitioners, data users, and the general public.

The PLS is designed as a universe survey of the public libraries located in the United States and its outlying areas. IMLS collects these data under the mandate in the Museum and Library Services Act of 2018 (PL 115-410), as stated in section 210. In 2016 and 2017, IMLS collected these data under the mandate in the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010 (PL 111-340), as stated in section 210. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 survey is the 28th in the series. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 survey is the 29th in the series. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 survey is the 30th in the series. The American Institutes for Research (AIR) served as the data collection agent for the FY 2016, 2017, and 2018 surveys.

The fiscal year 2016 survey frame consists of 9,234 public libraries - 9,232 public libraries in the 50 states and the District of Columbia and 2 public libraries in the outlying areas of American Samoa and Guam - as identified by state library administrative agencies. The survey frame includes 175 public libraries that do not meet all the criteria in the FSCS Public Library Definition (see Appendix F, item 203 of the Administrative Entity definitions for the criteria in the User Guide). These libraries are included because they qualify as public libraries under state law. Military libraries that provide public library service and libraries that serve residents of institutions are not included. The FY 2016 public-use data file also includes 18 records for public libraries that were reported as closed or temporarily closed in FY 2016, but these are generally not considered to be part of the survey frame.

The fiscal year 2017 survey frame consists of 9,216 public libraries - 9,213 public libraries in the 50 states and the District of Columbia and 3 public libraries in the outlying areas of American Samoa, Guam, and Northern Marianas - as identified by state library administrative agencies. The survey frame includes 168 public libraries that do not meet all the criteria in the FSCS Public Library Definition (see Appendix F, item 203 of the Administrative Entity definitions for the criteria in the User Guide). These libraries are included because they qualify as public libraries under state law. Military libraries that provide public library service and libraries that serve residents of institutions are not included. The FY 2017 public-use data file also includes 29 records for public libraries that were reported as closed or temporarily closed in FY 2017, but these are generally not considered to be part of the survey frame.

The fiscal year 2018 survey frame consists of 9,249 public libraries - 9,245 public libraries in the 50 states and the District of Columbia and 4 public libraries in the outlying areas of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands - as identified by state library administrative agencies. The survey frame includes 187 public libraries that do not meet all the criteria in the FSCS Public Library Definition (see Appendix F, item 203 of the Administrative Entity definitions for the criteria in the User Guide). These libraries are included because they qualify as public libraries under state law. Military libraries that provide public library service and libraries that serve residents of institutions are not included. The FY 2018 public-use data file also includes 12 records for public libraries that were reported as closed or temporarily closed in FY 2018, but these are generally not considered to be part of the survey frame.

Longitudinal

Public libraries in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the outlying areas of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Public library, State, Public library service outlet
administrative records data, aggregate data, survey data

Each PLS collected the following information:

  • Data from each public library, such as its name and address, population of legal service area, service outlets, collections, full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff, and operating revenue and expenditures (see Appendix F). These data were reported in the AE record.
  • State characteristics data, including the state total population estimate, the total unduplicated population of legal service areas for the state, and the state's reporting period start and end dates (see the survey questionnaire in Appendix F, items 100-103). Each state library administrative agency reported these data in the state characteristics record because they are not library-level data.
  • Data from each public library service outlet, such as its name and address, type, county location, square footage, public service hours per year, and number of weeks it is open (see Appendix F). These data were reported in the outlet record.

For fiscal year 2016, a total of 9,024 of the 9,234 public libraries in the survey frame responded to the FY 2016 PLS for a unit response rate of 97.7 percent.

For fiscal year 2017, a total of 9,042 of the 9,216 public libraries in the survey frame responded to the FY 2017 PLS for a unit response rate of 98.1 percent.

For fiscal year 2018, a total of 9,046 of the 9,249 public libraries in the survey frame responded to the FY 2018 PLS for a unit response rate of 97.8 percent.

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2021-10-07

2021-10-07 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created variable labels and/or value labels.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.
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No weights are present and the data are not weighted.

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Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

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