May 23, 2022

Conference Paper: “Building a Public Library Impact Data Hub: a Global Libraries “Data Atlas” for Storytelling, Strategy Development, and Collaboration”

The following paper (13 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.


Building a Public Library Impact Data Hub: a Global Libraries “Data Atlas” for Storytelling, Strategy Development, and Collaboration

Tyler Schrag
Community Attributes Inc.

Chris Mefford
President & CEO, Community Attributes Inc. (CAI)

Julia Cottrill
Vice President, GMMB

Jeremy Paley
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


IFLA Library


The Global Libraries initiative (GL) of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides access to information through technology in public libraries around the world — with an emphasis on national programs in developing and transitioning countries. The initiative’s multi-year grants fund efforts to understand local community needs, purchase computers and other equipment for libraries to help meet those needs, train library staff, and help libraries build public support for long-term funding.

Building and sustaining public support increasingly requires public libraries to show evidence of their ability to contribute to development—not just through traditional performance indicators, but in measurable, user-focused outcomes like job skills developed, education attained, employment found, money saved, and livelihoods improved.
In 2012-2013, GL grantees worked together to develop a Common Impact Measurement System (CIMS), which they now employ to quantify their individual and collective impact on public library users. Data collected through CIMS enables public libraries to expand their focus from the services they provide to the outcomes they help individuals and communities realize.

The CIMS framework includes required and optional indicators across seven categories: Digital Inclusion, Health, Education, Economic Development, Communication, Culture & Leisure, and Government & Governance.
In 2014 Global Libraries worked with a data management and software development firm, Community Attributes Inc., to build an innovative, dynamic online results reporting and visualization system for the data that grantees collected, called the Data Atlas. This new website presents public library data in an interactive way, giving the Global Libraries initiative and grantees insight into dynamic results as they are reported.

The paper will describe how the Data Atlas was designed specifically for use in global advocacy before concluding with a vision for how the Atlas could become a valuable impact data hub for public libraries – and the institutions that support them – beyond the confines of this cohort of foundation grantees.

Direct to Full Text Paper (13 pages; PDF)

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

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.