Public Libraries in the United States/IMLS (FY2010)

I’m delighted to note that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has published Public Libraries in the United States Survey: Fiscal Year 2010, the latest in its series of reports based on its national survey of public library statistics.

This is just a quick post, but I should mention that–in my opinion–IMLS has done a particularly good job this year. The report’s split into three parts: A reasonably brief (58-page, I think) overall report, state-by-state profiles that can be individually downloaded or downloaded as a group, and a group of supplementary tables.

If you care about public libraries at all, or think you should know something about them, download and read the main report at the very least, and the state profiles for your own state (and maybe for others: they’re interesting, colorful, informative and very brief).

The one qualm I had on first reading–the two scatterplots in the main report seemed difficult to read–went away when I gave them a little more time. (I’ve grown fond of scatterplots for showing correlation between service metrics and spending, as these two do–although what IMLS does is much more difficult and ambitious than what I’ve been doing. While I’d love to take credit for inspiring IMLS in this regard, I’m about 99.9% certain I had nothing to do with it–they couldn’t have read Graphing Public Library Benefits, since nobody’s purchased that enormously expensive $4.99 PDF, and the examples in my state-by-state posts didn’t really start early enough to have had an influence. By the way, if anybody from IMLS reads this: Send me an email, waltcrawford at gmail dot com, and I’d be delighted to send you a link to a free copy of Graphing Public Library Benefits.)

The IMLS Report and Give Us a Dollar…

Does this report supersede Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13)? Not at all: They’re complementary. The IMLS report includes some enormously useful time studies and a lot of national and state-level information, clearly stated and well worth reading. My book works at a different level, trying to offer a tool for individual public libraries to compare themselves to libraries of similar size and funding. It is, of course, based on precisely the same data as the IMLS report.

Anyway: A great report, even better–in my opinion–than the excellent reports from prior years. And the price is, as usual, right: The downloads are all free.


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