May 22, 2022

Conference Paper: “Promoting Public Library Sustainability through Data Mining: R and Excel”

The following paper (14 pages; PDF) will be presented at the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) World Library and Information Congress (WLIC 2015)  that begins on August 15th in Cape Town, South Africa.


Promoting Public Library Sustainability through Data Mining: R and Excel


Sarah Bratt
Syracuse University

Kusturie Moodley
University of Technology, South Africa


IFLA Library


Information professionals have a vested interest in leveraging data to advocate for, justify, and support libraries’ political and financial activities.

This research explores New York State public library data by analyzing the economic and employment disparities among New York State public libraries, affording steps toward a greater balance in terms of data accessibility and transparency. Acquiring and warehousing data is neither meaningful nor useful unless a workflow around data mining and analysis is established to ground assessment, recruiting, budgeting, decision-making, benchmarking, and community empowerment.

The potential impacts of a dearth in best practices for quickly summarizing and interpreting public and enterprise data culminate not only in lost opportunities but also neglected resources. This report documents the workflow and insights from an analysis of the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ (IMLS) voluntary annual survey of public libraries in the United States from 2008-2011 using the statistical analysis tools R and MS Excel.

The authors explored trends in New York State public libraries and found statistical correlations between library location, resources, and employee education with analysis steps that could be reproducible for libraries globally and nation-wide. Libraries may ostensibly seem behind the curve in understanding how to quickly assess the community. Yet librarians can leverage local data and international trends to better serve their respective communities, taking business insights and transforming them into public library ethos.

Direct to Full Text Paper (14 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.