The Public Library Blueprints: Laying the Foundation

Welcome back, library friends! We are already well on our way into 2023, and the new year has brought big changes to the LRS website! Along with the updated site, our blog posts will also take on a new look. In 2023, we will provide blueprints for analyzing and constructing visualizations from the Public Library Annual Report (PLAR) data. This spinoff of our ‘Between a Graph and a Hard Place’ blog series will be distributed through the Colorado Public Library Data Users Group mailing list, so if you would like to receive these posts along with other LRS news and PLAR updates click here to subscribe!

At the Library Research Service one of our main objectives each year is to survey Colorado public libraries for the PLAR. All of the data we collect lives on our site and is available for public use. Here you can find data from as far back as 1987. That’s 35 years’ worth of library data at our fingertips! Of course, the PLAR has evolved throughout the years. The data we collect now is much more robust than it was in 1987, and we are continually reviewing our questions to improve them for the upcoming year. Some of the questions are required nationwide by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), but some questions are specific to Colorado. For example, in 2023 we are partnering with the Colorado Broadband Office to include questions on broadband internet services.

Our next several posts will walk through how I am working with this large data set, deciding what to share, and creating effective visualizations from this data. I hope you are as excited as I am to delve into 35 years’ worth of public library data in 2023, to share some interesting findings and learn a few things about data analysis and visualization along the way…

Click HERE to continue reading or check out more posts on research in a library context from the Library Research Service.


LRS’s Colorado Public Library Data Users Group (DUG) mailing list provides instructions on data analysis and visualization, LRS news, and PLAR updates. To receive posts via email, please complete this form.