Public library statistics are collected, interpreted, and presented in a way that tells libraries’ stories. State law requires that public libraries report annually. The Mississippi Code 1972 Annotated §39-3 -107 states:
“The commission shall each year obtain from all public libraries in the state reports showing the conditions, growth, development. . .with such facts and statistics . . . as it may deem to be of public interest . . . .”
Federal law also requires the collection of this data under the mandate in the Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Act of 2010 as stated in 20 U.S.C sec. 9108 (analysis of impact of museum and library services, policy research, analysis, data collection and dissemination) in SEC 210. The Library Commission publishes Mississippi’s Public Library Statistics and submits them to IMLS on a yearly basis via the Bibliostat Collect reporting platform. IMLS issues an annual report analyzing public libraries on a national basis.
Reporting Time Line
Each year, the state data coordinator opens the annual statistical report on October 1st and advertises this date to library system directors. Submission deadlines and guidelines are outlined below:
- October 1
Annual Statistical Report opens
- December 1
Due date for submission
- January 1
1st reminder of missed due date
- February 1
2nd reminder of missed due date – Correspondence to director and copy to board chair
- February 16
(Date may change slightly on a yearly basis) “Drop dead” due date. Those systems that have not submitted their statistics will not receive state aid until the report is submitted.
When the report is received at the Library Commission, the state data coordinator will send an acknowledgment of receipt, usually in the form of an e-mail. As the data is reviewed, there may be additional correspondence with questions to specific items reported.
Uses of Public Library Statistics
At MLC, statistical data is used for planning statewide programs, reporting progress of public libraries, and justification of budget requests from the state legislature. At the federal level, IMLS uses the data to study the national progress of libraries. The American Library Association uses the data to answer media and research questions regarding public libraries. Additionally, the data is used to advocate nationally for libraries and library services. The same is true locally. The library director and other advocates use the data to support budget requests, service policy decisions, and to tell the library story.
Library directors may also use statistics to analyze operations and determine their libraries’ effectiveness. When librarians communicate about operations such as those mentioned above, they should do so in a manner that legislators and stakeholders will remember. Creating bright, professional-looking infographics is a key part to the advocacy process. Here are two free resources that libraries can use to create infographics:
For more information, presentations, and handouts related to statistics, follow this link to MLC’s statistics page: http://mlc.lib.ms.us/ms-libraries/library-development/statistics/.
Mississippi Code 1972 Annotated. Charlottesville, Virginia: Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., 1973-2003. (R 348.762023 M678)
Mississippi Library Commission. Public Library Statistics (Mississippi Library Commission). Annual. Jackson, Mississippi: Mississippi Library Commission, 1988 – (245.1:LS)