Forming a Public Library Data Alliance

The Measures that Matter initiative began in 2016 to help coordinate a field-wide conversation around library data collection with the aim to develop and implement a related action plan. The Measures that Matter Action Plan was completed in 2018. One of the fourteen prioritized action steps included in the plan (Action Step 3.2: Build Data Governance Capacity) was developed by an Implementation Group (IG) made up of a representative cross-section of library stakeholders who developed the idea into what is now referred to as the Public Library Data Alliance.

The concept for the Data Alliance is to advance public library data gathering and use that aligns with community needs. It was conceived to provide thought leadership, propose strategic actions, and create a communications infrastructure for the field. Please note: the Data Alliance is not intended to duplicate or replace existing bodies, such as IMLS’s Library Statistics Working Group (LSWG) or PLA’s Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment Committee (MEAC).  These, and we hope other, future groups and initiatives, will continue their good work and, we hope, participate with the Data Alliance to continually advance data issues across the field.

In a collaborative effort,the IG moved away from the idea of “governance” or governing body and instead came up with this non-governing alliance. They then identified who the key players should be, as well as what their commitments could be; developed guidelines – including bylaws and a member’s code of conduct; and researched potential organizational support. The IG then developed short- and long-term goals and strategies to be addressed by the Data Alliance and came up with recommendations for moving the Measures that Matter work forward after the IG’s initial charge was complete.

In order to sustain the work started by Measures that Matter, the shared intention is to build the Data Alliance into an on-going national alliance representing a cross-section of library stakeholders that will serve as a permanent successor to the Implementation Group.

The Data Alliance has recently gained initial support fromlibrary association leaders including executives from the American Library Association, Association for Rural and Small Libraries, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, Public Library Association, Urban Libraries Council, and other Measures that Matter stakeholders, such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In addition, the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has offered to provide a year of support for the Data Alliance with administrative infrastructure. As details and agreements are worked out over the summer, it is expected the Data Alliance will be functional by the fall.

We invite you to participate in further discussions about the Public Library Data Alliance and the Measures that Matter initiative by visiting the MtM website, following the MtM Twitter account @libmeasuresmtr, and sharing information on the MtM listserv.  To join the listserv, complete the request form at  For more information, email or

Ken Wiggin, MtM Implementation Group Chair

Measures that Matter is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services RE-00-16-0181-16.

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