Review of Library Data Reports, September 2002 (v.5, n.6)

The Board of Library Commissioners has been collecting public library statistics since 1890 when there were 362 independent main libraries and 108 branch libraries serving 2,238,943 residents. Today we have 370 independent main libraries and 118 branches serving 6,349,097 people. In FY2001, libraries received a total of $204,917,563 ($32.27 per capita) for operations and in 1890 libraries received $580,096, roughly equivalent to $10,534,543 ($4.70 per capita) in today's dollars. Libraries reported holding 2,759,400 print materials with a circulation of 5,040,629 in 1890. This meant about 1.2 books circulating 2.2 times per person. In FY2001, libraries reported 30,425,434 print materials circulating 34,653,753 times, or 4.8 items circulating 5.5 times per person.

In the early years, the information that librarians provided was included in the Board of Library Commissioners' Annual Report. Today, information reported by library directors is distributed in print and electronic formats (pdf, spreadsheet and database) on the agency website: In addition to public library data, the agency also collects information and issues reports of Special, School and Academic library data. Below is a list of all the reports available from the State Aid and Data Coordination Unit at the Board of Library Commissioners.

Public Library Data Reports

  • Children's Services, FYxxxx Data (distributed in spring)
    Selected statistics related to children's services including staffing, programming, holdings and circulation in public libraries.
  • Circulation and Holdings Report, FYxxxx (distributed in January)
    Various public library circulation and holdings raw data. Also includes circulation per FTE, per hour open and per capita and holdings per capita data.
  • Education & Staffing Report, 7-1-xxxx (distributed in January)
    Public library staffing levels and distribution of the staff's highest educational level. Staffing level data includes: total full-time equivalencies (FTE), number full time and part time, and FTE for MLS, librarian, children's librarian and non-custodian positions as well as total hours open per non-custodian FTE. Director's education level and length of work week are displayed.
  • Electronic Services, FYxxxx Data (distributed in spring)
    Selected statistics of public libraries related to electronic services including: web page hits, uses of electronic resources, electronic subscriptions and materials in electronic format.
  • Featured Reports, FYxxxx Data (distributed in the spring)
    Reports on changing topics present public library data not displayed in other reports.(e.g., Facilities, Peer Rankings)
  • Financial Statistics Report, FYxxxx Data (distributed in February)
    Raw and per capita figures for each reporting public library's (including branches) total municipal appropriation, operating income, and salary, materials, other and total operating expenditures. Also included are percent of total operating expenditures spent for salaries, materials and other expenditures.
  • The FYxxxx Municipal Pie...What's Your Share? (distributed in March)
    Relates the amount expended from the general fund by each city and town on public library service, to the amount expended to operate the entire municipality.
  • Public Library Outlets, FYxxxx Data (distributed in May)
    Selected statistics relating to public library outlets including: staffing, holdings and circulation.
  • Rankings Report, xxxx Data(distributed in March)
    Each municipality's rank within its population group and within the entire state based on its library's per capita values for certain income and expenditure data. For services, the indicators are: FTE per 10,000 population, MLS FTE per 10,000, hours open per week, direct and total circulation per capita and holdings per capita.
  • Salaries Report, 7-1-xxxx (distributed in January)
    Hourly minimum and maximum salaries for up to 17 public library position classifications from Library Director to Custodian. Annual salary for the Library Director is also displayed.
  • Services Report, FYxxxx (distributed in January)
    Services data includes number of terminals with Internet, GUI access, average weekly visits, reference questions and hours open for public libraries. Counts are provided for weekend days open, branches, adult and children's programs and attendance. Average hours open on weekends is also shown.
  • Summary Tables and Graphs, xxxx Data (distributed in March)
    Statewide, population group and regional totals of various incomes, expenditures, holdings, circulation, services and staffing data for public libraries.
  • Massachusetts Academic Library Data, Fall xxxx, Selected Statistics (distributed every other year in the spring)
    Academic library data collected via the National Center for Education Statistics biennial survey.
  • Massachusetts School Library Media Center Report, Fall xxxx (distributed in May)
    Public and private school library data collected on an annual survey.
  • Massachusetts Special Library Statistics Report, FYxxxx Data (distributed in November)
    Special library data collected on an annual survey.

If you have any questions, or would like to receive one of the reports listed above, please contact Dianne Carty, Mary Litterst or Anne Meringolo at the Board of Library Commissioners.

Prepared by Dianne L. Carty, Head of State Aid and Data Coordination

This Web site, and other programs of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, is funded in part with funds from the
Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning.
Page last updated on 08/27/2007