Data-Driven Librarianship

PLA's data initiatives aim to help public libraries use data to better understand and demonstrate the impact of your library. Libraries can use these tools and resources to compare their library to their peers and leverage those comparisons for planning, improvement, and advocacy.

Project Outcome
Project Outcome is designed to help public libraries understand and share the impact of essential library programs and services by providing simple surveys and an easy-to-use process for measuring and analyzing outcomes. The toolkit also provides libraries with the resources and training support needed to apply their results and confidently advocate for their library’s future.

Benchmark Briefings
To support the public library field’s peer benchmarking needs, PLA has invested in research to identify ways to better communicate and display key metrics related to internal decision-making. These metrics, reported annually by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), are freely and publicly available but the data are not typically utilized to their full potential. The Benchmark Briefings are a first step in PLA’s work to support greater adoption and understanding of this annual data set.

Census Data Literacy
The Census Data Literacy project is an initiative of PLA in partnership with ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office. It aims to build data literacy skills among library staff to enhance their services, programs, and initiatives with the overall goal of promoting awareness and use of Census data in their communities.

Public Library Data and Performance Measures
Evaluation and data analysis can be overwhelming. This resource is intended to raise awareness of data-related resources useful to public libraries, and to assist library staff from all levels in a variety of decision-making moments. It was developed by PLA's Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment Committee (MEAC).

Data Pathways
ALA Emerging Leaders created this guide to pathways for public library staff, administrators, and managers to gain the skills necessary for working with library assessment data. Use the self-assessment to help you determine what data-related skills you want to work on and find resources for professional development.

National Data about Public Libraries
A clearinghouse for datasets about public libraries, public datasets that have a library element included in them, or census-like data sites that could help library staff gather information about their communities.

Impact Survey
PLA is now “home” to Impact Survey, which was originally developed and administered by the University of Washington’s Information School. Impact Survey helps libraries measure patron’s technology needs. The Impact Survey asks patrons about how they use library technology services like public computers, wireless networks, online resources, digital literacy training, as well as outcome-oriented use.

PLDS and PLAmetrics
At the 2019 ALA Midwinter Meeting, PLA’s Measurement, Evaluation and Assessment Committee (MEAC) voted to cancel the FY19 PLDS survey and focus its efforts on measuring the field-reported value of the survey instead. As a result of this work and other data collection efforts PLA has underway, the MEAC voted to sunset the PLDS survey. Subscribers will have access to the FY18 data that was reported and should have received direct notification about their status from PLA and Counting Opinions.