The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) today released two key information products: the latest data from its annual Public Libraries Survey and a new report on the previous year’s data.The Public Libraries Survey examines key indicators of public library use, financial health, staffing, and resources.The data are collected from approximately 9,000 public library systems comprised of over 17,000 individual main libraries, library branches, and bookmobiles in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.
“These trends tell a story about how public libraries are evolving to match their services, programs, and collections to the needs of their communities,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “We encourage the use of this information to uncover opportunities to improve library services and to demonstrate the continuing value of public libraries in American life.”
“The releases extend IMLS’s most complete dataset on the trends, opportunities, and resources of public libraries in communities across the nation–helping libraries, researchers, and administrators make data-driven decisions,” said Benjamin Sweezy, IMLS Deputy Director of Digital and Information Strategy.The FY 2014 report provides a national overview of trends and a snapshot of a variety of indicators for the year. In particular, it demonstrates how public libraries are faring financially since the last recession (December 2007 to June 2009) and how public library services and resources have evolved over the decade.Key Findings
- From 2013 to 2014, there have been slight increases in the indicators for financial health and staffing of public libraries, however, they remain below 2009 levels. Per capita operating revenue was $39 ($12 billion in total revenue), an increase of 2 percent compared to 2013 and the first revenue increase since 2009.
- Public libraries’ collections are adapting to changing technology. The majority of the total collections (66 percent) were still print materials, but e-books (18 percent), physical and downloadable audio materials (10 percent), and physical and downloadable video materials (6 percent) made up the remainder of our nation’s library collections. The number of e-books per 1,000 people also increased 2,140 percent between 2005 and 2014.
- Although there is a decline in the use of traditional library services, attendance at public programs is increasing. Program attendance reached a high of 332 attendees per 1,000 people in 2014, representing a 10-year increase of 34 percent and a 5-year increase of 14 percent.
- In response to the interest, public libraries offered 4.5 million programs, a 1-year increase of 5 percent and a 10-year increase of 68 percent.
- Over the past 10 years, public-access internet computers increased 55 percent.
FY 2014 Survey Report
80 pages; PDF.
FY 2015 Data
The FY 2015 PLS shows that the trends noted in previous years are continuing. Nearly 311 million Americans lived within a public library service area in 2015, an increase from 306 million in 2014. Libraries offered 4.7 million programs in 2015, attended by 106 million people, 4 million more attendees than the previous year. In addition, the number of electronic materials, including audio, video and e-books, continued to grow, increasing by over 50 percent between 2014 and 2015.
- Data Files – CSV (ZIP), SAS (ZIP), and SPSS (ZIP)
- APIs – State Summary(link is external), Administrative Entity(link is external), and Outlet(link is external) datasets
- Documentation (PDF)
- Supplementary Tables (PDF)
- Data Element Definitions (PDF)