IFLA’s new Statement on Open Library Data calls on governments to ensure, either directly or through supporting others, the collection and open publication of data about libraries and their use.

Accurate and timely data is key for any sort of policy decision-making, including of course around libraries. It makes it possible to plan effectively for the future, as well as to evaluate impacts and track changes over time.

IFLA’s Library Map of the World has brought together library data from around the world, allowing for cross-country comparisons and to start to give a true picture of the strength of the global library field and its activities.

The data on which the Map is based can be downloaded, and used by anyone interested in libraries to carry out analysis and research.

Yet too often, data is either not collected or only collected rarely, meaning that governments and libraries alike lack a basic tool for their work. Sometimes, even when it is collected, it is not available openly, meaning that only those with the resources to buy it are able to access it.

In response, IFLA’s Statement on Open Library Data calls on all governments to collect – or support the collection of – data about libraries and their use, and its open publication.

It highlights that any such collection should not lead to a reduction of library budgets, and that it should be collected in a way that allows for disaggregation. The Statement also calls for questions about libraries to be integrated into household surveys, in order to build a better understanding of how individuals use them.

The statement is available on IFLA’s repository:

IFLA Statement on Open Library Data

Data on levels of library provision and use can play an important role in supporting understanding, evaluation and planning at all levels. Without it, it is far harder to identify successes and needs, and to develop effective strategies for library development. It is also less easy to identify the c...