PLDS and PLAmetrics

Public Library Data Service

Decision on Future of PLDS

At the end of February, the Public Library Association’s Measurement, Evaluation and Assessment Committee (MEAC) met to discuss the future of its Public Library Data Service (PLDS) survey. As you may be aware, at the 2019 ALA Midwinter Meeting, the 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.

Over the past year, the MEAC gathered input from library staff in town hall meetings and email discussions, as well as soliciting current PLDS subscribers. Library staff reported that they wanted less redundancy in data collection, better peer comparison data about library operations, improved data training related to community indicators, and a user-friendly interface for analysis and reporting.

To that end, the MEAC and PLA are committing efforts toward:

  • Focusing on future data collection work on trending activities, such as technology;
  • developing a set of “typical libraries” that will help libraries better understand who their peers are and what key operational data points look like for those groups; and
  • increasing training opportunities to help library staff gain confidence in their own data skills and build a better understanding of how to use existing tools and data sets to understand their community.

Future announcements with further details about the aforementioned work will be shared as deadlines are confirmed. For questions about how PLA will manage past-PLDS survey data or if you have subscription-related questions, please email Emily Plagman at

Re-envisioning PLA's Public Library Data Service

What stories do you want to tell about your library to your community, board, city council, funders, or other important stakeholders? What data would help you tell these stories?

As part of the re-envisioning of its annual survey of public libraries, the Public Library Data Service, PLA held two virtual town halls to hear feedback from the public library field on how a new tool could better support your needs. This input will be used to develop a new online tool that will help libraries use data better as well as assist PLA in advocating for public libraries nationally.

You can view the recording of each virtual town hall below:

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
1:00–2:00 PM Central

Wednesday, September 25, 2019
1:00–2:00 PM Central

Recent Updates on the PLDS Discussion: Meeting Notes from PLA’s Measurement, Evaluation and Assessment Committee (MEAC)

The Public Library Data Service (PLDS) survey data collection will take a pause next year (in 2020) while PLA and the Measurement, Evaluation and Assessment Committee (MEAC) re-envision the survey and how it could better serve the field. Even though the survey won’t take place in 2020, a new data collection system is being developed which will replace the PLDS. You can still subscribe to PLAmetrics to get access to the FY2018 and prior year data through to July 31, 2020. Beyond July 31, 2020 PLA will make the historical data available to current subscribers. You will still have the ability to run reports, download the data into Excel as well as download all pamphlets and infographic documents. If you have any questions or comments please email PLA at Also, you can sign up for PLA notifications regarding the future of the PLDS.

PLDS fiscal year 2017 data is now available, and includes a special section on value added services. This valuable data from more than 1,590 North American libraries can be accessed and customized through the online data portal PLAmetrics.

The PLDS captures valuable, data (voluntarily submitted annually) on staffing, operating finances, output measures, interlibrary loaning, and technology provisions, from public libraries throughout the U.S. and Canada. In addition, each year's survey contains a special survey highlighting statistics on one service area or public library topic.

PLAmetrics: a PLDS Online Database

PLAmetrics logoPLAmetrics is the online portal to the PLDS. An annual subscription to PLAmetrics offers the most efficient, customized, and user-friendly way to analyze all the data that PLDS provides. With PLAmetrics, subscribers can access not only PLDS data (FY2002–2017), but also public-use IMLS data (FY1998–2016), and then take advantage of unique sorting and reporting features. Data can be employed for peer comparisons, benchmarking and/or trend analyses, as well as to meet local, custom needs.

Subscriptions to PLAmetrics

Subscriptions include 24/7 access to PLAmetrics from any web-enabled device for one year. Subscription costs are:

  • Current PLDS contributors: $200
  • Previous online subscribers: $200
  • PLA Members: $250
  • Nonmembers: $300

For more details visit

Have questions? Contact PLA Support at or 800-542-8963.

Get an Inside Look at PLAmetrics

Whether you’re already a PLAmetrics subscriber or just considering a subscription, check out this free on-demand webinar: "PLAmetrics: How to Make Public Library Data Work for You." Learn how to navigate available data, make the most of reporting templates, and create your own dataset.

Don’t have time to build your own report?

Get a customized PLAmetrics report. The data collected for the PLDS is versatile and can be manipulated to provide a customized report about how your library compares to other libraries. The basic fee is $100/hour for PLAmetrics subscribers, $150/hour for non-subscribers. If you are interested in learning more about customized reports, contact Ryan Patrick, Director, Counting Opinions, or 866-850-8366.

PLDS Statistical Report

PLDS Reports in PRINT once again

A number of library community members asked that the Public Library Data Set (PLDS) be available, once again, in print format. 

Introducing print editions for FY2014–FY2017 data. 

Each annual print edition consists of four or five publications—libraries serving different populations. Each print edition costs $99 + tax and shipping. This covers the cost of production and administration. Order one, or more, or complete sets. 

To order, go to