Statistics & demographics
All Library locations will be closed on Monday, September 1, in observance of Labor Day.
Stories can be told with statistics and demographics. They explain who we are, what we are doing, and measure our well-being. Numbers can indeed paint a picture of a place, a population or an event. There are many entities that collect data, but not all of it is accessible to everyone. When statistics are compiled by a private organization, the figures usually are not made public.
Businesses will hire research organizations to collect data for them. But these statistics do not become part of the public domain. Likewise, trade associations often gather data but usually make the information available only to their own members. The government’s gathering of data provides us with our greatest sources for statistical research. Government offices need data in order to carry out their mandates. They in turn aggregate the numbers and place the results on their webpages and publish them in documents and reports. Government agencies address the needs of education, health, safety, crime, transportation, pollution, the economy, employment, agriculture, trade, and much more. The guides in this section on demographics and statistics will help you get started on your research.
Some interesting books that have been written about the use of statistics include:
- The Numbers Game: The Commonsense Guide to Understanding Numbers in the News, in Politics, and in Life by Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot
- Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers is the New Way to be Smart by Ian Ayres
- The Numerati by Stephen Baker