January 16, 2022

New from the OCLC Library/OCLC Research: The Global Library Statistics Web Page



Here’s a new resource about libraries that will very likely make a lot of people very happy! It’s brand new from OCLC! Make sure to pass this one along to colleagues.

From a Post by Larry Olszewski on the OCLC Cooperative Blog:

As Director of the OCLC Library, I get to see lots of information about libraries from many different sources. Sometimes it’s in a more narrative format that lends itself to reading, thinking and reviewing. Sometimes it’s straight-up “numbers” about libraries. Our library often gets requests for combined statistics of this second kind that don’t take into account the fact that there is no one, single global repository of library data. In order to help provide that kind of comparative information, we’ve created the Global Library Statistics page for the use of the entire library community. The service was originally a joint project of OCLC Research and the OCLC Library, with most of the coding done by Research.

Just choose a region and then a country from the drop-down menus or click on the map arrows to narrow your search. Then click on the tabs at the top of the table below the map for information about a specific category.

The page has information about (as much as possible) the total global library universe. It includes data for the total number of libraries, librarians, volumes, expenditures, and users for every country and territory in the world broken down into the major library types: academic, public, school, special and national. These figures do not represent OCLC membership, although the information is broken down into three regions  that represent those used by the OCLC Global and Regional Councils: the Americas (North and South America), EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India), and Asia Pacific (Asia, Australia and Oceania). The statistics also include available data for languages used, and the number of library schools, publishers, and museums.

The staff of the OCLC Library extracted data from respected third-party sources, both electronic and print, that in their judgment are the most current and accurate sources to which they have access. For many countries, data were either unavailable (indicated in the charts as NA) or sporadic. Also, for a lot of the world, the data were not as current as we would have liked. We felt, though, that a fairly recent figure was better than none at all.

Because of these and other issues, it is possible that the figures represent an underestimate of worldwide totals in all categories; other more current and accurate sources may exist that we’re unaware of. If you know of, or can recommend additional sources, please send an email to us at oclclibrary@oclc.org.

While challenging, putting together this resource was also a great exercise in data exploration and combination. We had a lot of fun working on it, and hope that you find it interesting and useful in your work.

Direct to Global Library Statistics Page

Things to Know About the Statistics

List of Sources Used

We hope OCLC works hard to share the Global Library Statistics page with journalists (including those who don’t cover libraries on a regular basis), educators, LIS students and others whose research and reporting might include the need for this type of information.

We also hope users share with those who maintain the page new and updated info sources so the Global Library Statistics Page can be as current as possible. To put it in 2011 terms, let’s crowdsource useful sources. (-: and the same time work with library organizations to make sure the latest numbers are in the database shortly after they’re released.

In the future we hope that OCLC considers adding “related” statistics on the page or on a new page. For example, total amount of information estimates, relevant social media stats, and numbers from public companies that “play” in the library/online research/publishing worlds.

Kudos to the OCLC Library and OCLC Research

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.