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Improving Data Quality and Reducing Respondent Burden of the U.S. Public Libraries Survey (308143)*Marisa Pelczar, Institute of Museum and Library Services
Lisa M Frehill, Institute of Museum and Library Services
Keywords: libraries, stakeholder engagement, data quality
The Public Libraries Survey (PLS) is an annual voluntary data collection initiated in 1988 in collaboration with state libraries. State Data Coordinators (SDCs) in each U.S. jurisdiction administer an annual data collection and serve as a point of contact with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Since its inception, the survey has had a 97 percent or better response rate among the nation’s more than 9,000 public library systems that operate more than 17,000 branch locations. While this is a U.S. government data collection, data input relies on jurisdiction-specific data systems overseen by the SDCs, which often include data elements of interest within the jurisdiction. This paper reviews the qualitative and quantitative methods IMLS used in a three-year PLS data quality research project, which had several purposes: (1) examine and determine ways to improve data quality; (2) explore methods to reduce respondent burden; and (3) better understand stakeholder data needs given changes in library services in the past decade. Our paper reviews how IMLS worked with key stakeholders, including the SDCs and the Chief Officers of state libraries. Finally, we conclude with potential challenges of balancing the needs of different stakeholders while maintaining the historically high response rate and long-term trend data in the PLS.