Meet the Public Library Data Alliance: Ryan McCrory

Ryan McCrory is the director of the Lititz Public Library in Lititz, Penn. He holds a master’s degree in Information Science from Clarion University, a master’s degree in History from the University of Alabama, and a bachelor’s degree in History from Athens State College. 

I’ve worked in libraries of all sizes, from a large public urban library in Seattle to a small rural library in Pennsylvania. They’re the same in that they all keep statistics and everyone is very interested in keeping them, but they all do it differently.

Coming from a history background, I’ve been trained in research and analysis to study long-term trends from a historical perspective and measure change over time. But, as I moved around the country, I found it difficult to compare one library to another because they keep statistics differently or they change which ones they collect. I’m interested in having a national clearing house for data so we can collect and use information to gauge whether we are doing better, the same, or worse from year to year.

Although numbers aren’t the whole story, they remain an important tool for tangible benchmarking of goals and achievements. The world in which we work has changed drastically, but the tools by which we measure that work has not kept pace. I hope the PLDA can gather input from libraries of various types and sizes to recommend new metrics, or new ways of using metrics, to better tell our story, both internally and externally.

I’m glad to see this coming together because it’s necessary. We’re all in this together to promote libraries and make sure people understand what services and values libraries bring to communities.

Now, because of the pandemic, it’s important to understand how we can measure our impact in physical realms and in virtual environments. I’m interested in understanding how libraries are dealing with this and how we can come out of it, not just intact but with new opportunities, and tracking these statistics is part of it.