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Public Libraries Survey: Overview

Public Libraries Survey (Annual Report)

Annually, public libraries throughout the country are required to submit a statistical report to their respective state libraries. The Public Libraries Survey (PLS) examines when, where, and how library services are changing to meet the needs of the public.

Once the data is collected at the state level, it is reported at the federal level to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). These data, supplied annually by over 9,000 public libraries across the country since 1988, provide information that policymakers and practitioners can use to make informed decisions about the support and strategic management of libraries. The national data is available on the IMLS website. If you want to compare states, check out Library Search & Compare.

The annual collection on statistics from the state's public libraries serves two purposes:

  • to compile data on North Dakota's public library services on a statewide basis
  • to report data on North Dakota's public library services to IMLS in Washington, DC

A Public Libraries Survey must be completed and submitted electronically to the North Dakota State Library (NDSL) each year for public libraries to remain eligible to qualify for State Aid.


All surveys must be submitted to NDSL via Counting Opinions by the deadline. The 2022 reporting period will be February 1, 2024–March 31, 2024.

When reporting data, please follow these guidelines:

  • Report data for the calendar year that has just ended.
  • Adherence to definitions is important to ensure comparability of data; for the definitions, click on the number to the left of each question.
  • All fields (questions) must have data entered in them or the report will not be able to be submitted—Enter "0" if the appropriate entry for an item is zero or none.
  • All edit checks must be annotated in order for the report to be submitted.
  • Some fields (questions) will be prefilled with data that cannot be modified by the individual completing the report. If this information is incorrect, contact the State Data Coordinator.

Previous Public Library Survey Data

These annual spreadsheets (XSLX) include the raw data for every question asked on the PLS from every public library that submitted.

PLS Webinars for Calendar Year 2023


Please note: As of June 2021, NDSL is no longer tracking individual library interlibrary loan statistics. Libraries will need to keep track of their own ILL statistics for reporting purposes.

Contact Information

State Data Coordinator:

Monica Struck
North Dakota State Library

Counting Opinions

Tracking Statistics

Public libraries should be tracking and retaining statistics on a regular basis. Browse the resources listed below for guidance.

The Connecticut State Library has created this spreadsheet to help calculate the programs and activities a library does in a given year. It is customized for CT. If your library wishes to use it, you may need to alter some fields to make sure it is tabulating correctly for your library. Contact the State Data Coordinator with questions.

IMLS logo

Many of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.