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State Data Coordinators Receive Accolades for Public Libraries Survey

December 10, 2009 ET


IMLS Press Contacts
Jeannine Mjoseth,
Mamie Bittner,

SDCs and other participants attending Annual SDC meeting December 2009
State Data Coordinators and other
participants attending a session
at the SDC Conference.
Click on image for larger view.

Washington, DC—Every year, more than 9,000 libraries are surveyed in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands, answering questions on population, library collections, services and programs, staff numbers, revenues and expenditures and other electronic information. The Public Libraries Survey’s 97.5 percent response rate makes the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which oversees the survey, the envy of all other federal agencies, commented IMLS Director Anne-Imelda Radice at the annual meeting of the state data coordinators. The state data coordinators met in Washington, D.C., Dec. 2-3, to discuss new survey data elements, to welcome and train five new state data coordinators, and to receive some much deserved accolades.

"We are grateful for the state data coordinators close attention to the Public Libraries Survey. It is a painstaking and labor-intensive job, and their efforts make a profound contribution to the national conversation on the value of public libraries," Radice said.

"The Public Library Surveys are an important national resource and an essential tool for monitoring and improving library services nationwide," noted Carlos Manjarrez, Associate Deputy Director of the IMLS Office of Planning, Policy, Research, and Statistics. "To help showcase the important contribution libraries make, we have leveraged this resource, making it available to many more stakeholders in a variety of different formats." For example, IMLS has uploaded the library survey data to, a federal clearinghouse of government data that provides users the opportunity to rate the usefulness of the data.  Making data available on the Web site makes it easier for the public to combine library data with other government economic, education, and social data.

Suzanne Miller, Director of Minnesota State Library Services, added, "You are important and what you do makes my job easier. I need your data when I go to the state legislature and when I talk to local librarians who are communicating with city administrators." She also noted that adding new data elements, under discussion at the meeting, is important "because our world is changing and will continue to change."

Through an interagency agreement with IMLS, the U.S. Census Bureau processes and analyzes the data for use in a report published annually by IMLS. Working together, IMLS and the Census Bureau’s efforts have made data available more quickly than previous years.

For example, Johnny Monaco, Chief of the Education & Related Statistics Branch at the U.S. Census Bureau, announced that the FY 2008 PLS data files will be released in spring 2010, eight months earlier than previous years. Recent reports and data released by IMLS include:

At the conference, 45 states received the Keppel Award for submitting prompt, complete, and high-quality public library data for FY 2008 data submissions. The award was presented to 12 first-time State Data Coordinators and five first-time Chief Officer winners. This is the 19th year for the Keppel Award, which is named after Francis Keppel, a U.S. Commissioner of Education, who served from 1962 to 1965. He also served as a distinguished member of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) from 1978 to 1983. Click here for a list of winners.

In addition to the annual meetings, state data coordinators communicate through two listservs: SDC listserv and PLRSnet. In March, IMLS transferred the Public Library Statistics Cooperative (PLSC) Blog to a wiki

Library Statistics Working Group Meets

Following the SDC meeting, IMLS convened on Dec. 4 the Library Statistics Working Group (LSWG), which advises IMLS on the conduct of national public libraries and state library agencies data collections.

The Working Group reviewed the LSWG process, received updates on IMLS activities, including current research projects on libraries and museums, and reviewed the Public Libraries Survey (PLS) and the State Library Agency (StLA) Survey cycles. It also evaluated State Data Coordinator conference activities including the new data elements and survey enhancements, and considered ways to improve the reporting and impact of the PLS and StLA data. Members of the group identified priorities, policy areas, and issues for future IMLS data analysis and briefs. They also discussed methods for improving the data’s usefulness and new library statistics products.

The Working Group, which meets twice a year with bi-monthly conference calls, will assemble again in summer 2010. Members of the 2010 LSWG, together with two newly-elected SDC* members, include:

  • John C. Bertot, Professor and Director, Center for Library Innovation, University of Maryland;
  • Hulen Bivins, State Data Coordinator, Alabama Public Library Service;
  • Howard Boksenbaum, Chief of Library Services, Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services;
  • Ira Bray, State Data Coordinator, California State Library;
  • Denise Davis, Director, Office for Research and Statistics, American Library Association;
  • Peter Haxton*, State Data Coordinator, Kansas State Library;
  • Edythe "Edie" Huffman*, State Data Coordinator, Indiana State Library;
  • Martha Kyrillidou, Senior Director of Statistics and Service Quality Programs, Association of Research Libraries;
  • Suzanne Miller, Director, Minnesota State Library Services;
  • Frank Nelson, State Data Coordinator, Idaho Commission for Libraries;
  • Wayne Onkst, State Librarian and Commissioner, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives;
  • Peggy Rudd, Director and State Librarian, Texas State Library and Archives Commission;
  • Chris Walker, Research Director, Local Initiative Support Corporation; and
  • Jan Walsh, State Librarian, Washington State Library

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit