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Public Libraries Survey

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PURPOSE

The U. S. Census Bureau collects the Public Libraries Survey (PLS) data for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to provide statistics on the status of public libraries in the United States. IMLS is authorized to collect these data under the Museum and Library Services Act of 2003.

COVERAGE

The data are collected from approximately 9,100 libraries with approximiately 17,000 individual outlets in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four outlying areas.

CONTENT

The data includes electronic resource users, Internet terminals, reference transactions, public service hours, interlibrary loans, circulation, library visits, size of collections, staffing, operating revenues and expenditures and number of service outlets.

FREQUENCY

Since 1988, data collection occurs annually during December-August.

METHODS

The data are collected over the Internet, via a Web based reporting system. The Web survey application includes a user guide explaining its features and operation, the data entry form and instructions, and an edit check tool. It was designed to minimize response burden, to improve the timeliness and quality of the data and to minimize follow-up for data problems.

PRODUCTS

IMLS provides an annual tabulation report and survey universe file that users can download from the Internet. IMLS also provides Compare Public Libraries and Search Public Libraries data access tools on the Web site. For additional information, visit the IMLS Public Libraries Web page.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Provides the core statistics needed for current and historical analysis of public libraries and their programs.

USES

These data provide the only current, national descriptive data on the status of over 9,100 public libraries. They are used by federal, state and local officials, professional associations, and local practitioners for planning, evaluation, and policy making. These data are also valuable to researchers and educators for developing conclusions concerning the state of public libraries.

RELATED PROGRAMS

Academic Library Surveys

State Library Agencies Survey


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