What Are States Asking? The 2.1 Report Has Answers

Measures that Matter Publishes Report on Action Step 2.1 “Review State Added Data Elements”

18 June 2019

From the earliest days of Measures that Matter (MtM), questions have percolated around states’ surveys of their public libraries.  A number of questions typically in those surveys are from the Institute of Museum and Library Services Public Libraries Survey but many states ask additional questions determined to be of interest at the state level.  What is the nature of those additional questions?  How are states using data from those questions?  Are any of those questions asked by multiple states, and should any of them be considered for inclusion in the IMLS Public Libraries Survey?

Image of 2.1 report cover with hyperlink to report page
Click image to go to report.

These questions served as the basis for Measures that Matter Action Plan Step 2.1 “Review State Added Data Elements,” and the work of investigating them was taken up by researchers at Ithaka S+R.  Their report, authored by Melissa Blankstein and Christine Wolff-Eisenberg, and accompanying data set are now available on the Measures that Matter website and will soon be available also at   Among the key insights in the report:

  • On average, in their surveys states add 180 additional data elements to the IMLS Public Libraries Survey questions.
  • There is substantial commonality across these elements, especially in the areas of operating expenditure, human resources, services, governance, and operating revenues.
  • Many of the state-added items are components of data elements within the IMLS Public Libraries Survey questions and contribute directly to calculations for data elements within it.
  • Data Coordinators interviewed in nine states reported that they have not made substantial changes to their state’s survey instruments within the last five years and currently have an informal process in place for making changes to their survey.

The report concludes with recommendations for IMLS and State Library Agencies.  These will be reviewed by IMLS and COSLA as well as individual State Library Agencies and, we hope, others engaged in public library data collection.

We encourage your help in continuing the discussion by visiting the MtM website, tweeting @libmeasuresmtr, and sharing information on the MtM listserv.  To join the listserv, complete the request form at  For more information, email or

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

MtM News

Another MtM Milestone Reached!

On April 30th, the Measures that Matter initiative (MtM) reached another important milestone.  That day marked the last meeting in the phase of work during which an Implementation Group “kicked the tires” on the Measures that Matter Action Plan.  Released in 2018, the Action Plan was a document derived from work completed in the initial MtM phase in 2017 that included development of the MtM concept, educational webinars, and a Data Summit on developing a more coordinated approach to the collection of public library data nationally.

The Action Plan resulting from that work was vetted by the library community and others outside the library community but was untested.  The Implementation Group was formed as a time-limited group charged with continuing work on selected Action Plan elements.  Among activities undertaken was a prioritization of the Action Plan’s steps and identification of pilot projects to be taken on by Working Groups comprised of interested individuals extending beyond the Implementation Group.  While the purpose of the Working Groups was focused on advancing specific action steps, or parts of them, they also tested the notion that progress could be made through a distributed work environment.  Between the Implementation Group and the Working Groups, nearly 50 individuals – librarians and non-librarians – engaged around the Action Plan.

This week we’ll begin sharing the results of this engagement.  As one example, the project team will be releasing a research report on Action Plan Step 2.1 (“Review [of] State Added Data Elements”).  We’ll also hear from members of the Implementation Group and others on plans underway to address Action Plan Step 3.2 (“Build Data Governance Capacity”) through the establishment of a Public Library Data Alliance.  Not all the work of the Implementation Group yielded immediate results.  Some of the work-in-progress will be handed off to the Alliance when it is formed later this year, underlining the need and desire for sustaining the MtM initiative well into the future.

An overview of selected work from the Implementation Group will be presented by some of its members at the American Library Association Annual Conference on Sunday, June 23rd at 10:30 am as part of the “News You Can Use” series.  The slide deck from that session will be made available on the Measures that Matter site and listserv, and we’ll be scheduling a repeat of that session in the form of a webinar in July (date tba).

We’ll continue to update the Measures that Matter website, tweet, and share information through the Measures that Matter listserv and hope that we will also hear from you about your interests in Measures that Matter work.  To join the listserv, complete the request form at  Follow MtM on Twitter @libmeasuresmtr, and for more information, email or  

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


Summary of the Measures that Matter Implementation Group Meeting…

Albany, New York

The Measures that Matter Implementation Group (IG) held its first in-person meeting November 28-29, 2018 in Albany, New York. Its charge and roster are below. All members participated (10 in-person and 5 via webinar). The Working Group is co-chaired by Ken Wiggin (COSLA/Connecticut State Library) and Sharon Comstock (Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library (IN). The Measures that Matter Action Plan is available at Final.pdf.

The primary objective of the meeting was to address charge item #1. This was achieved through a combination of small and full group work. Results are being compiled and will be shared in December. In the context of this work, charge item #3 was also addressed. The IG determined that Working Groups (WGs) will be formed to pursue Action Plan steps 2.3 (“Establish Workgroup on Community Impact”), 4.1 (Establish Baseline Considerations for Capacity Building” and 4.2 (“Develop Use Cases”). The process by which this will occur will be determined in December and Working Groups will begin their work in January 2019.

With reference to charge item #3, the IG heard from representatives from Capagemini and Rent the Runway about uses of data and data governance in their settings. The IG will continue to hear from a variety of organizations on these and other data topics to learn from the experience and expertise of others, particularly those from fields other than librarianship.

Finally, the IG also began preliminary planning to address charge item #4, which will become its focus in January 2019.

For more information, contact or COSLA Executive Director Timothy Cherubini at or 859 514 9826.

Measures that Matter Implementation Group Roster

Audrey Betcher, Rochester Public Library (MN) Daphna Blatt, New York Public Library
Todd Carpenter, National Information Standards Organization (NISO)
Timothy Cherubini, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA)
Larra Clark, Public Library Association/American Library Association Sharon Comstock, Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library (IN)
Teri DeVoe, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
Rebekah Garrety, York County Libraries (PA)
Katherine Lovan, Idaho Library Association/Middleton Public Library (ID)
Stacey Malek, Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Michael Norton, Reinvestment Fund
Jennifer Pearson, Association for Rural and Small Libraries/Marshall County Memorial Library (TN)
Alisha Powell Gillis, Urban Libraries Council
Kathy Rosa, American Library Association
Mary Stein, East Baton Rouge Parish Library (LA)
Ken Wiggin, COSLA/Connecticut State Library

Charge: Envisioned as a short-term group, convening through April 2019, the Implementation Group (IG) is charged with several activities including but not necessarily limited to the following:

  1. prioritizing the actions described in the plan, defining successful outcomes, suggesting time horizons, identifying prospective owners for implementation and resources (financial and other) needed to achieve the goals.
  2. engaging data driven organizations from outside the library field to learn from their experience and expertise; exploring ways to realize collective impact efforts using data in and from libraries with community-based organizations.
  3. identifying a limited number of pilot projects (2 – 4) from the Action Plan to be carried out by Working Groups (WGs). Each WG will have an IG sponsor and consist of additional members (6– 10) not on the IG but recruited from a range of stakeholders appropriate to the specific WG’s goals and needs.
  4. Identifying the composition, scope and charge of an on-going national Public Library Data Council which will serve as a permanent successor to the IG.