Data & Research

Strong libraries — and a well-supported library workforce — are essential to the recovery of communities devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This collection of tools, developed and updated by units across the American Library Association, will help communities, library workers, and library supporters plot the best course forward for their libraries. Gain insight from the latest research about the impacts of COVID-19 on libraries, library staff, and the work of serving your community.

ALA will undertake original data collection and research efforts to understand library responses and impacts from the COVID-19 crisis and recovery; curate related data and research resources of significant interest and use to library staff from reputable organizations; and synthesize data and research to generate insights and provide thought leadership.

ALA Original Research and Analysis

Libraries Respond to COVID-19 Survey

As a follow up to PLA’s March 2020 Public Libraries Respond to COVID-19 Survey, a new American Library Association (ALA) survey of U.S. libraries documents a shift in services to support students, faculty, and communities at large during the crisis and phased preparations for the months ahead. More than 3,800 K-12 school, college and university, public, and other libraries from all 50 states responded to the survey between May 12–18, 2020.

While virtually all libraries (99%) report limited access to the physical building, survey respondents shared leaps in the use of digital content, online learning, and virtual programs. Several themes emerged from the survey results, including that libraries are: involved in community crisis response, cautiously planning for re-opening facilities, committed to meeting the educational needs of students and researchers, and experiencing ongoing or increased demand for library programs and services.

Detailed findings from the survey:

More that 1500 respondents shared information about their re-opening plans and processes. Additional analysis of those plans, as well as aggregate financial and staffing data and results by library type and peer groups will be available in the future.

Learn more about the Libraries Respond to COVID-19 Survey.

Interactive Data Visualization: PLA Resources on COVID-19

Patron Needs

Libraries anticipate patrons' most urgent needs in the next six months will be:

Libraries anticipate patrons' most urgent needs in the next six months will be: 64%: Access to physical materials and/or special collections; 60%: Public access to computers and the internet; 60%: Government applications and job search support.

"We checked out 143 laptops to students needing devices to do work online. This helped some students persist who may not have in this new learning environment."

— Hawkeye Community College Library (Iowa)

AASL Back-to-School Survey

As the 2020-2021 school year gets under way the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) is collecting data from school librarians across the country to gauge the status of teaching, school library use, and school librarians’ role as school/district plans continue to adapt with changes in population infection rates.

The first back-to-school snapshot survey, conducted August 5 -12, solicited 1,117 responses from all 50 states. The results reveal an increasing reliance on virtual resources. The vast majority of school librarians will encourage more use of e-books and online resources than pre-COVID. However, print materials continue to be essential, with 94% of respondents on the school district level and 85% of respondents on the building level reporting that books would continue to be circulated after quarantine and disinfection.

Read the full report.

The next AASL Back-to-School survey will be open for responses September 10 - 17.

School Library Resources

94% (District level) Books will continue to circulate 88% (District level) Encourage more use of ebooks and online resources

School Library Closure Impact Surveys

Just as school librarians adapt to each shift in the changing education landscape, they are responding to the current remote learning environment to meet the needs of their learners, classroom educators, administrators, and parents/guardians/caregivers according to a series of surveys conducted by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

Three surveys, conducted March 30 through May 12, 2020, gathered data on school library closures, the response from school librarians, and the impact of closure on students. AASL received responses from all 50 states, with representation from every school setting, grade level, and student population.

The results show that while school librarians have been busy expanding online resources, and providing virtual assistance, student access to technology is a challenge, highlighting inequities in education.

If there can be an upside to school closures, it is that school librarians were recognized by their school community as the go-to person for learners, educators, and parents/guardians/caregivers.

Student Challenges

The biggest reported hurdles to student success during school closures:


AASL will use the survey data, comments, and feedback received through the surveys to develop a new suite of advocacy materials and will also be launching surveys specific to district school library supervisors and school librarian educators.

First Snapshot (March 30-April 6)

Second Snapshot (April 15-21)

Third Snapshot ( May 5-12)

Public Libraries Respond to COVID-19 (April 2020)

In the broadest survey of public libraries’ response to the pandemic at the time, the Public Library Association received 2,545 unique responses nationwide between March 24 and April 1, 2020. Most respondents (98%) reported their buildings were closed to the public but, in many cases, library staff were rapidly adapting services. A substantial majority of respondents reported extending online renewal policies (76%), expanding online services like e-books and streaming media (74%), and adding virtual programming (61%). Learn more about PLA's initial Libraries Respond to COVID-19 survey.


93% of public libraries report leaving Wi-Fi on when buildings were closed to the public.

Related Data and Research

Public Libraries and the Pandemic: Digital Shifts and Disparities to Overcome (New America, March 1, 2021)

COVID19 and K-20 Education

Internet and Technology Access