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Public Libraries in the United States Survey, 2013

Resource Type
Dataset : administrative records data, aggregate data
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services
Other Title
  • Archival Version (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Free Keywords
databases; expenditures; federal government; libraries; literacy; local government; population size; programs; public libraries; revenue; state government; wages and salaries
  • Abstract

    The Public Libraries Survey (PLS) provides statistics on the status of public libraries in the United States. It is a voluntary survey conducted annually by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 survey is the 25th in the series. The data files include all public libraries identified by state library administrative agencies in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the outlying areas of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The reporting unit for the survey is the administrative entity, defined as the agency that is legally established under local or state law to provide public library service to the population of a local jurisdiction. For Fiscal Year 2013, IMLS collected the following information via a web-based survey for the PLS: Library Data - Data on each public library, such as its name and address, population of legal service area, service outlets, collections, full-time-equivalent staff, and operating revenue and expenditures State characteristics data, including the reporting period starting and ending dates, the state total population estimate, and the total unduplicated population of legal service areas for the state. These data are contained in dataset 1 and include 9,309 records; 9,290 were public libraries and 19 were administrative entities that closed in or temporarily closed for FY 2012. ; State Data - Each state library agency reported these data on the "State Characteristics" record because they are not library-level data. These data are in dataset 2 and include 56 records, one for each state and outlying area.; Outlet Data - Data on each public library service outlet, such as its name and address, type, county location, metropolitan status, square footage, public service hours per year, and number of weeks a library outlet is open. These data are in dataset 3 and include 17,554 total records, 17,463 are public library service outlets (central, branch, bookmobile, and books-by-mail-only outlets). The remaining 91 records are outlets that closed or temporarily closed for FY 2012.; This data collection is useful to researchers, journalists, the public, and policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels. These data are used by federal, state and local officials, professional associations, and local practitioners for planning, evaluation, and policy making.
  • Abstract

    IMLS research for PLS is designed to provide consistent, reliable, complete, and accurate indicators of the status and trends in public library services; and to report timely, useful, and high-quality data to Congress, the states, other policymakers, practitioners, data users, and the general public.
  • Abstract

    The PLS is designed as a universe survey of the 9,290 public libraries located in the United States and its outlying areas. The data are collected via a web-based survey under the mandate of the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010 (PL 111-340) as stated in SEC. 210. The U.S. Census Bureau is the data collection agent for IMLS.
  • Methods

    Weights are not included in this study.
  • Methods

    ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection: Created variable labels and/or value labels.; Standardized missing values.; Created online analysis version with question text.; Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes..
  • Methods

    Response Rates: A total of 9,048 of the 9,290 public libraries in the survey frame responded to the FY 2013 PLS, for a unit response rate of 97.4 percent.
  • Table of Contents


    • DS0: Study-Level Files
    • DS1: Public Library Data File, FY 2013
    • DS2: Public Library State Summary / State Characteristics Data File, FY 2013
    • DS3: Public Library Outlet Data File, FY 2013
Temporal Coverage
  • Time period: 2013
Geographic Coverage
  • American Samoa
  • District of Columbia
  • Guam
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Puerto Rico
  • United States
  • Virgin Islands of the United States
Sampled Universe
Smallest Geographic Unit: census block
The survey frame consists of 9,290 public libraries - 9,228 public libraries in the 50 states and the District of Columbia and 62 public libraries in the outlying areas of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands - as identified by state library agencies. The survey frame includes 140 public libraries that do not meet all the criteria in the FSCS Public Library Definition (see Appendix F, item 203 of the Administrative Entity definitions for the criteria in the User Guide). These libraries are included because they qualify as public libraries under state law. Military libraries that provide public library service and libraries that serve residents of institutions are not included.
Collection Mode
  • web-based survey

    The data provided here were acquired from IMLS and include only the public-use versions of the data. IMLS has suppressed some data in these files, in order to protect privacy and to prevent disclosure of individual information. If users require access to this suppressed information, they should contact IMLS at about procedures for obtaining access to the restricted-use data files.

    Users are encouraged to review all documentation prior to using these data. For information on changes made to these data by ICPSR, please see the ICPSR Codebook Notes in the codebooks provided.

    Numeric fields may contain negative numbers, such as "-1". "-2", or "-3". These indicate that the value is "null" (or "blank"), and may mean that the data are missing, not applicable, or suppressed to protect confidentiality. See the Record Layouts in the User Guide for more information. Check for fields that contain negative numbers before using averages, sums, or other calculations or aggregations of data.

    In this survey, the term public library means an administrative entity. The administrative entity may have a single outlet or multiple outlets (single- and multiple-outlet libraries that do not have a central outlet are listed in Appendix E of the User Guide). The data for a multiple-outlet library are combined.

    For information on the collection data collection dates, see "Table A-2. Reporting periods of public libraries: Fiscal Year 2013" in the User Guide.

    State data comparisons should be made with caution because of differences in reporting periods (see Table A-2 in the User Guide) and adherence to survey definitions. The definitions used by some states in collecting data from their public libraries may not be consistent with the PLS definitions.

    Since the District of Columbia is not a state, special care should be used in comparing data for a city to state data. Caution should also be used in comparing Hawaii's data to other states as all public library data are reported under one entity, the Hawaii State Public Library System.

    The data include imputations, at the unit and item levels, for non-responding libraries. For a discussion of the imputation methodology, see the Imputation section of the User Guide.

This version of the study is no longer available on the web. If you need to acquire this version of the data, you have to contact ICPSR User Support (
Alternative Identifiers
  • 36471 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR36471.v1

Update Metadata: 2016-07-21 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2016-07-21

Institute of Museum and Library Services (2016): Public Libraries in the United States Survey, 2013. Archival Version. Version: v0. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.