Library Reports

Library Data 

Monthly Circulation Statistics - NWLS provides the following reports for member libraries:

  • Circulation statistics provide annual report data of direct local check-outs to adult and children, nonresident users and loans to libraries. Check-outs to institutions are excluded (schools, senior centers, day care facilities, etc.)
  • Media statistics report on total* monthly check-outs broken down by material type (books, audio, movies, etc.) 
    *Check-outs to institutions and other library systems are included in these totals.
  • Monthly electronic statistics report on usage of shared library databases, including BadgerLink and OverDrive:

    2018 • 2017 • 2016 • 2015 • 2014 • 2013 • 2012 • 2011 • 2010

Annual NWLS Status Report and Budget Planning - The 2015 Status Report & Budget Planning (pdf) compiled by NWLS is an example of data from member library annual reports that can be used to make comparisons and identify trends useful in planning.

Annual Wisconsin Public Library Service DataThe Public Library Development Team compiles annual statistics for Wisconsin public libraries on system and state level, system and county level, county level, and public library level.

Annual National Public Library Statistics - The Institute of Museum and Library Services provides databases useful for searching and creating a comparison group of U.S. libraries based on selected information.

Annual Wisconsin Public Library Report Instructions and Forms:

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Annual Reports 

Annual Reporting Overview

The Division for Libraries, Technology and Community Learning collects library statistics annually in order to:

  • compare information between libraries
  • develop standards between libraries
  • analyze demographics
  • gauge outreach and promotion
  • check for technological and operational viability
  • measure funding equities and reimbursements
  • seek accountability and offset litigation
  • demonstrate that statutory requirements are being met

Library boards are required to file annual reports with the Division and its municipal governing body within 60 days of the conclusion of the fiscal year (the report must be completed and filed by March 1 of the current year.  The information collected will be made available online in the Wisconsin Public Library Service Data, and the Wisconsin Public Library Directory on the Department of Public Instruction’s web site.

The State has a clear message that any data recorded for Annual Report purposes should be accurate.  Collected public library data needs to be (a) valid, (b) reliable, and (c) timely.

  • Valid means we’re measuring what we all agree to measure and are using the same definitions.
  • Reliable means measurement methods are consistent.
  • Timely means within timelines and by due date.

NWLS is committed to its mission of reporting data that is accurate and timely. 

Accurate Reporting

While it is a statutory requirement to gather library data and compile it in the form of an Annual Report, it should be noted that the Annual Report is also a legal document. The report is evidence of the legal existence of the library and its governing structure.  It is a reflection of how the library is operated.  The library board must understand that when authorizing the signing of the annual report, it is certifying that the document is, true, accurate, and complete.  The Annual Report can be and has historically been used in court as formal exhibits to prove and disprove legal issues.

Libraries need to amend annual reports when erroneous data is detected. This requires Division staff to unlock submitted reports, NWLS staff to check over the report again for mistakes, and the library Director to potentially talk with Board and local government authorities to resolve issues before resubmitting an amended report – a time consuming and frustrating process.  

Accurate Records

  • Inaccurate bibliographic records affect searching and match points with other catalogs.
  • Inaccurate item (holdings)records can affect loan rules, searching, verification and checkout, and cross-tab statistics.
  • Inaccurate patron records affect accessibility, library notice delivery, statistics, patron verification, and loan rules

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Merlin Reports

Reporting Tools

The Innovative software provides a few different ways of generating statistics.  Two very powerful tools for running reports include the Sierra Create Lists (Review Files) and Statistics functions, and Web Management Reports (WMR).  The lesser-known Cataloging Session Statistics provides some basic reporting.

  • Cataloging Session Statistics - records created / modified / deleted per session or by user defined dates.  Staff can access these statistics by clicking on Session Stats on the Millennium Cataloging toolbar. 
  • Web Management Reports - Circulation reports on fixed codes or call numbers that can be limited by library collection, physical location, and time period.
  • Sierra Create Lists - Used to run subsets of the database based on record codes and date ranges.
  • Sierra Statistics - useful for gathering current data on authority, bibliographic, item, and patron records (cannot pull data from deleted records).

Reports Provided by NWLS

Listed below are some of the common reports run by NWLS on behalf of the libraries:
  • Annual Report collection, circulation, ILL, patron, and nonresident data
  • Monthly circulation, ILL, and nonresident data
  • Collection weeding reports upon request
  • Collection reports for insurance purposes upon request
  • Inventory reports upon request
  • Collection reports for items based on any given status code
  • Patron Reports upon request

NWLS staff prefers to run statistical reports on behalf of libraries whenever possible, for several reasons:

  • There are a limited number of available Review Files.
  • The nature of Web Management Report search criteria can be  cumbersome to navigate and confusing for those unfamiliar with the programs or the records codes.
  • There are two different WMR programs, and one is no longer supported. It uses an outdated plugin, making it a challenge to access with current versions of Java.
  • When Merlin codes change, results from previous years are affected.
  • While libraries feel they lose some control or autonomy from not running their own reports, Merlin members also gain from being provided with accurate data.