Locale Codes for Libraries

From time to time, you may need to know your Locale Code for a grant or other funding opportunity (probably a Federal one).

Locale codes are two digit numbers that quantify how urban or rural a location is. The framework was developed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for schools, and is based on proximity to "urban areas" and "urban clusters."

Urban Areas and Clusters

Urban Areas and Clusters are determined by the Census bureau, and are updated after every decennial census. Urban Areas (UAs) have over 50,000 people, while Urban Clusters (UCs) have between 2,500 and 50,000 people. A principal city is the largest city in a metropolitan or micropolitan statistical area. The only urban area in Vermont is Burlington, which includes portions of many of the adjoining towns. The area of an urban area/cluster does not necessarily match up with village or town boundaries, so your code could easily differ from a school or library just a few miles away.

Libraries

Locale codes are determined by IMLS during post-processing, after submission of the annual Public Library Survey (annual report) data. They use the NCES framework and Census data to define a code. The system classifies areas into four types (city, suburban, town, and rural) with the first digit, and three subtypes with the second digit. Here are the twelve codes:

  • 11 - City, Large: Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with population of
    250,000 or more.
  • 12 - City, Midsize: Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with population
    less than 250,000 and greater than or equal to 100,000.
  • 13 - City, Small: Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with population
    less than 100,000.
  • 21 - Suburb, Large: Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with
    population of 250,000 or more.
  • 22 - Suburb, Midsize: Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with
    population less than 250,000 and greater than or equal to 100,000.
  • 23 - Suburb, Small: Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with
    population less than 100,000.
  • 31 - Town, Fringe: Territory inside an urban cluster that is less than or equal to 10 miles from an
    urbanized area.
  • 32 - Town, Distant: Territory inside an urban cluster that is more than 10 miles and less than or
    equal to 35 miles from an urbanized area.
  • 33 - Town, Remote: Territory inside an urban cluster that is more than 35 miles from an
    urbanized area.
  • 41 - Rural, Fringe: Census-defined rural territory that is less than or equal to 5 miles from an
    urbanized area, as well as rural territory that is less than or equal to 2.5 miles from an urban
    cluster.
  • 42 - Rural, Distant: Census-defined rural territory that is more than 5 miles but less than or equal
    to 25 miles from an urbanized area, as well as rural territory that is more than 2.5 miles but less
    than or equal to 10 miles from an urban cluster.
  • 43 - Rural, Remote: Census-defined rural territory that is more than 25 miles from an urbanized
    area and is also more than 10 miles from an urban cluster.

Find your Locale Code