Friday, March 23, 2012

PL 12/12: Metropolitan statistics

Filed under: statistics — plinius @ 12:32 pm

The section on Metropolitan Libraries at IFLA collects useful annual statistics.

In a digitalized society, libraries need to develop better information systems. Librarians need new skills and greater understanding of statistical and economic analysis. Our metropolitan libraries represent the most powerful community of public library professionals.  Their statistical work deserves to be better known.

Discussions about library statistics often take place in rather closed environments. The discussions in and around ISO is an obvious example. But many other organizations and network tend to do their statistical development work outside the public sphere. Limiting access may be comfortable in the short run, but it harms the profession in the long run.

Understand complexity

Professions develop understanding of complex issues through open professional discussions. Today, the natural arena for such discussions is the open web. All librarians – public, school, academic and special – can benefit from ongoing debates on the use of statistics in library management, planning and advocacy.

Statistics is not a simple subject. As numbers and numerical reasoning become more important in the library, the professional quality of our statistical work needs to be improved. Much valuable work has been done by interested amateurs. But at the current stage of development some input from specialized professionals – statisticians, economists or social indicator experts – is also required.

The Section says

The Statistics collate information from the member libraries including

  • population
  • number of libraries and staff
  • budgets
  • acquisitions
  • fees
  • collections and materials
  • membership 
  • visitors
  • loans
  • opening hours 
  • enquiries
  • internet provision and usage
  • multicultural activities and outreach services

Prior to 2004, the statistics were compiled by Hannover Public Library. Since 2004, Toronto Public Library has assumed responsibility for the compilation of data.



The IFLA Metropolitan Libraries Section Annual statistical survey was approved. Over the summer, Toronto Public Library worked with Counting Opinions to develop a web-based survey tool. In the fall of 2010, Toronto Public Library put out a call for participation in the 2009 Metropolitan Libraries Section online survey.

With the introduction of the automated survey and its expanded benchmarking capabilities, Toronto Public Library staff actively encouraged participation from many international libraries to expand the scope and comprehensiveness of the survey. As a result, the 2009 survey drew participation from fifty-seven international library systems– a 32% increase from 2008 and a 68% increase since Toronto Public Library assumed responsibility for the survey in 2004. …

For analysis purposes, library systems have been organized by the size of the population they serve within four categories:

  • 1,000,000 population and over
  • 750,000 to 999,999
  • 500,000 to 749,000
  • 250,000 to 499,999 (or under 500,000)

Variables included in the metropolitan survey 2009

  • Population

Location [my term]

  • Name of Library (Sorted by population)
  • Name of Library in English
  • Name of Town & Province/State
  • Country
  • Website URL

Administrative [my term]

  • Chief Librarian / Administrator
  • Governing Body
  • Geographic Service Area
  • Period Reported

Service points

  • Total
  • Central/Main Library
  • Branch Libraries
  • Mobile Libraries
  • External Service Points


  • Total
  • Books & Serials
  • Audio Visual Items
  • Electronic Collection


  • Total
  • Books & Serials
  • Audio Visual Items
  • Electronic Collection

Registered users

  • Total
  • New
  • 0‐14
  • 16‐64
  • 65 and over

Circulation [my term]

  • Loans
  • On‐Site Loans
  • Physical Units in Library Use

Information Requests


  • Physical
  • Virtual


Internet Sessions

Opening Hours Per Week

Workstations [my term]

  • Total Public Access Workstations
  • Workstations Connected to the Internet
  • Income and Funding
  • Total Operational Expenditure
  • Library Staff Expenditure
  • Acquisitions Expenditure
  • Capital Expenditure


  • Total
  • Professional Staff
  • Other Staff

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