Fact Sheet

Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners

Data Collection & Coordination


As part of its responsibility under Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L., c. 78, § 19), the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is authorized to collect and analyze financial, staffing,and service data about public libraries across Massachusetts. The Board has collected information from Massachusetts public libraries since its formation in the 1890s.

What Type of Data is Collected?

The Board of Library Commissioners collects a wide variety of useful data about library services and operations, including:

  • Staffing numbers and pay rates
  • Library holdings and circulation numbers
  • Number of hours open to the public
  • Number of visits to libraries
  • Library income (municipal, gift, etc.) and expenditures (salaries, materials, capital improvements, etc.)
  • Number of programs offered to the public

How is Data Collected?

Each municipality and its is required to submit data to be part of the State Aid to Public Libraries program. Data is collected through:

  • The Annual Report Information Survey (ARIS) - submitted in Summer of each fiscal year
  • Financial Report  - submitted in Fall of each fiscal yearas part of the State Aid to Public Libraries application
  • Various surveys administered as needed

Why Collect Data?

Data collected from public libraries is used in a variety of important ways:

  • To provide service and fiscal data about public libraries in Massachusetts. This data assists municipalities and their libraries in evaluating and planning library services.
  • To show compliance with Minimum Requirements of Free Public Library Service as part of the State Aid to Public Libraries application.
  • To allow the MBLC to participate in the Public Library Statistic Cooperative administered by the Institute for Museum & Library Services (IMLS). Massachusetts public library data is submitted to the IMLS. The data is then reviewed and included in an annual report published by the IMLS that examines public library services across the United States.
  • To plan and evaluate MBLC services.

After Data is Collected:

  • Data is checked and verified by MBLC staff
  • Data is used to determine if municipalities and their libraries comply with Minimum Requirements of Free Public Library Service
  • Data is made available to the general public via the MBLC website
  • Data is distributed as necessary to various partners and agencies at the State and National level.

Other MBLC Data Coordination

The Board supplies the Department of Revenue with State Aid to Public Libraries local aid amount estimates to assist the DOR in creating Cherry Sheet Estimates.

The MBLC also participates in the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) Academic Library Survey Program. The agency collects data from Massachusetts academic libraries through an NCES created online form.


98 North Washington St., Suite 401 • Boston, MA 02114 • 617-725-1860 • 800-952-7403 (in-state only) • fax: 617-725-0140 • mass.gov/mblc
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 04/2/2010