Measures that Matter

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) conducted Measures that Matter, a project to examine, evaluate, and map the landscape of public library data collection in the United States. The project will develop a Library Data and Outcomes Action Plan with key library stakeholder groups for a more coordinated approach to the collection of public library data nationally.

The project concluded in 2023.

Thousands of public libraries diligently contribute to data collection efforts each year- participating in one-time, periodic and annual surveys at the behest of a variety of organizations – state library administrative agencies, university researchers and professional associations.  The results are used to create national composites that describe library use, organization health and impact.  But, there is no overarching national plan for the collection, storage, use and dissemination of public library data and service outcomes that equitably engages all stakeholders, validates the purpose and value of public libraries, and provides learning opportunities on the value and use of this data to librarians and library staff.

Members of the project Working Group:

  • Kendall Wiggin, Connecticut State Library; President, COSLA
  • Stacey Aldrich, State Librarian, Hawaii State Public Library System
  • Kurt Kiefer, State Librarian, Division for Libraries, Technology & Community Learning, Wisconsin Dept of Public Instruction
  • Jennifer R. Nelson, Director/State Librarian, Minnesota Dept of Education, State Library Services
  • Annie Norman, Director and State Librarian, Delaware Division of Library Services
  • Timothy Cherubini, (former) COSLA Executive Director

Members of the Measures that Matter Advisory Committee:

  • John Bertot, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Larra Clark, ALA Office for Information Technology Policy
  • Mike Crandall, University of Washington Information School
  • Denise Davis, Allen County Public Library (IN)
  • Vailey Oehlke, Multnomah County Library (OR)
  • Lee Rainie, Pew Research
  • Kathy Rosa, ALA Library and Research Center

Public Library Data Alliance

What is the primary function of the Public Library Data Alliance (PLDA)?
The PLDA grows out of the Measures that Matter initiative which is centered on coordinating conversation and action around public library data gathering and use so that libraries can continuously improve their services to align with community needs and accurately represent the rich story of the 21st-century public library. The vision for the PLDA includes promoting coordination, commitment, resources and momentum among the many and varied parties involved with and interested in public library data.  The PLDA will engage with diverse stakeholders to propose strategic actions and create a communications infrastructure for the field.
As part of its early work, founding members of the PLDA will work initially from ideas and concepts put forward by the Measures that Matter Action Plan Implementation Group, refining them for productivity, relevance, and sustainability.

Who will be on the PLDA?
The PLDA will have standing members from the leadership of 5 public library-focused associations and additional members with rotating, staggered terms.  The target complement of members is 15.
The Standing Members will include one individual each from the leadership of the:

  • American Library Association
  • Association for Rural and Small Libraries
  • Chief Officers of State Library Agencies
  • Public Library Association
  • Urban Libraries Council

The Rotating Members will represent the breadth of public libraries, including urban and rural, large and small. Others we believe can contribute to the PLDA include library directors and administrators, data analysts, state data coordinators, researchers, library funding organizations, and civic leaders, educators, and others not directly working in the library field but who hold interest in public library data, especially the power of it when combined with other data sources.  If you are unclear as to whether your interests in public library data will contribute to the PLDA, please reach out to us for conversation!

How long will members serve?
Founding members will serve terms of one, two or three years to create future staggered terms to ensure continuity and sustainability of the PLDA.  The Measures that Matter Implementation Group has recommended that following initial formation, all terms be three years in duration.  The PLDA will revisit this and other recommendations from the Implementation Group as it begins its work.

What is the overall member commitment?
The PLDA will conduct its work through periodic conference calls and occasional in-person meetings.  PLDA members will be expected to attend and actively participate in a majority of the calls and meetings. As in previous stages of the Measures that Matter initiative, the PLDA will explore topics and issues primarily from a strategic perspective and will encourage and support new working groups or existing organizations to implement tactics in pursuit of shared objectives.  PLDA members may serve on or sponsor working groups and will assist in advising on topics and ideas brought forward by other organizations.  The first meeting of the Alliance will be in person mid-to late 2020 and is funded to ensure that all members can attend.

Who appoints members?
Founding members will be selected by COSLA and IMLS, partners in the Measures that Matter initiative cooperative agreement, through an open call process and with input from library associations, and previously-serving members of the project team and implementation groups.

What are the desired characteristics of PLDA members?
The PLDA is seeking members eager to take active roles in building on the ideas and vision of the Measures that Matter initiative to create a long-term, collaborative, sustainable entity that will serve those interested in library data collection and use well into the future. Members will be asked to think creatively and broadly, keeping not only their own but also the interests of the field at large, and keeping an eye also on others who can benefit from public library data (e.g., municipal leaders; policy makers; educators, etc.)

Are PLDA members compensated?
For at least its first year, the Alliance will be supported through funding provided to Measures that Matter by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and administrative support through the National Information Standards Organizations.  Creating a viable and sustainable funding model for the PLDA will be an important part of the founding members’ work.”

Materials from Measures that Matter

Press Release Announcing the Measures that Matter Project
MtM Logic Model
MtM Action Plan
MtM Landscape

Public Libraries' Role in Workforce and Small Business Development

Final Report

Case Studies
Asotin Case Study
Bangor Case Study
Brooklyn Case Study
Cambria County Case Study
Hartford Case Study
Kenton County Case Study
Memphis Case Study
North Liberty Case Study
San Diego Case Study
South Bend Case Study

Literature Review

COSLA Library Data Think Tank Committee

 The work originated by the Measures that Matter project continues via the COSLA Library Data Think Tank Committee.  This effort is led by Stacey Aldrich, State Librarian of Hawaii.