Featured Data: Public Libraries in the United States Survey, 2015 (ICPSR 37119)

The Public Libraries Survey (PLS) provides statistics on the status of public libraries in the United States. It is a voluntary survey conducted annually by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 survey is the 27th in the series.

The data files include all public libraries identified by state library administrative agencies in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the outlying areas of American Samoa and Guam. The reporting unit for the survey is the administrative entity, 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 term public library means an administrative entity.

For Fiscal Year 2015, IMLS collected the following information via a web-based survey for the PLS:

  • Library Data - Data on each public library, such as its name and address, population of legal service area, service outlets, collections, full-time-equivalent staff, and operating revenue and expenditures. State characteristics data, including the reporting period starting and ending dates, the state total population estimate, and the total unduplicated population of legal service areas for the state. These data are contained in dataset 1 and include 9,251 records; 9,231 were public libraries and 20 were administrative entities that closed or temporarily closed for FY 2015.
  • State Data - Each state library agency reported these data on the "State Characteristics" record because they are not library-level data. These data are in dataset 2 and include 53 records, one for each state and outlying area.
  • Outlet Data - Data on each public library service outlet, such as its name and address, type, county location, metropolitan status, square footage, public service hours per year, and number of weeks a library outlet is open. These data are in dataset 3 and include 17,408 total records. The file includes identifying information and a few basic data items for public library service outlets (central, branch, bookmobile, and books-by-mail-only outlets). The file includes 17,328 outlets in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, 8 outlets in the outlying areas, and 72 records for outlets that were reported as closed or were temporarily closed for FY 2015.

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.

For more information, see the study homepage.

Sep 17, 2018

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