Archive for the Public Category

Low-income households with children are 4X more likely to lack broadband in the home than their higher income counterparts

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Image credit: Pew Research

Discussions about the digital divide often focus on technology training for adults and career readiness, but as education shifts its focus towards online resources and learning environments, a major concern is the “homework gap” experienced by many school-age children. The “homework gap” refers to the disadvantages faced by children in households that lack access to broadband services.

An analysis of this broadband “homework gap” by Pew Research Center reveals that approximately 5 million American households with children do not have broadband access. Even more revealing is the fact that households without broadband are predominately black, Hispanic, and low income. Households with children that have an income below $50,000 are 4 times more likely to lack a high-speed internet connection than those above that income marker, and among low-income households with children, blacks and Hispanics are 10 percentage points less likely to have broadband access at home than their white counterparts.

While the FCC’s Lifeline Program is working to revamp their telephone subscription subsidy program so that it would include broadband services, it’s not yet clear how much this would hike up costs and how many of those 5 million households would receive assistance. For the foreseeable future, public libraries are extremely important in helping children and families to close that gap by providing them with access to online educational resources. Providing internet access for school-age children not only affects their ability to get homework done today, but also has bearing on the education and job opportunities available to them in the future.

Read the Pew Research Center’s full analysis of the broadband “homework gap” here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Half of public library respondents report internet connectivity speeds of more than 10 Mbps

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Image credit: Digital Inclusion Survey

We’ve shared the Digital Inclusion Survey with you before, and now new research results dive into data specifically about broadband speeds in public libraries. More than 2,200 public libraries from 49 states reported upload and download speeds at their libraries for wired and Wi-Fi connections. City libraries reported median download speeds of 30 Mbps (wired) and 13 Mbps (Wi-Fi), while rural libraries reported medians of 9 Mbps (wired) and 6 Mbps (Wi-Fi).

According to the most recent data, about half (49.8%) of all libraries reported download speeds of more than 10 Mbps, up from just 18% that had achieved those speeds in 2009. The percentage of libraries with the slowest public Internet speeds of 1.5 Mbps or less dropped to 1 in 10 in 2013 from 42.2% in 2009. While the strides being made are exciting, the reality is that just 2% of public libraries meet national benchmarks set by the Federal Communications Commission for minimum speeds serving smaller communities (100 Mbps) and more than 50,000 people (1 Gbps).

Technical issues also abound, as might be expected when it comes to Internet connectivity speeds. Captured speeds—both at individual user’s devices and for uploads—lag behind subscribed network speeds. Peak use times meant reduced speeds, particularly for city libraries which saw direct download speeds drop 69% during heavy usage when compared to light usage periods.

Read the full report, including additional breakdowns by locale and connection type, here. This broadband discussion is even more timely considering Pew’s recent analysis of Census data about broadband access among households with children and the “homework gap” and what this information might mean for libraries. We’ll bring you more on that research soon.

 Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Library Journal reports that public library materials budgets are up by 3%, despite stagnant circulation

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Image credit: Library Journal

Library Journal released its Materials Survey for 2015, a yearly survey that has gathered nationwide data on materials budgets and circulation from public libraries since 1998. They found that across all libraries that completed the survey, materials budgets are up 3%, averaging $807,000 overall for the year.

What’s more revealing about the changing face of public library materials, though, are the circulation statistics. For the past few years, electronic media formats have seen an explosion in circulation numbers. Electronic media now makes up, on average, nearly a quarter (24%) of a public library’s materials budget, and the circulation of downloadable audio, and downloadable movies in particular (with an astounding 50% increase in circulation), are advancing at a sprint. E-books, Audiobooks, and DVD/Blu-Ray, however, still remain the most acquired and circulated non-print media.

Despite the diversification of circulating materials, though, most of the public libraries surveyed saw overall circulation volume remain flat or decline. Only one third of respondents reported an increase in circulation in the past year, and the highest growth was seen in libraries that serve populations under 10,000, where circulation grew by an average of 2.5%. In previous surveys, overall circulation in public libraries had been showing slow but steady growth since 2012, so hopefully this year’s numbers represent an isolated setback rather than an emerging trend.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Pew finds immigrant Hispanics are 3X as likely as Whites to rate library services beyond book lending as important

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Image credit: Pew Research

In a study just released by Pew Research Center, a survey of 6,224 Americans, including 739 Hispanics, found that immigrant Hispanics tend to value library services more highly than other demographic groups, despite the fact that they are less likely to have visited a public library or to indicate that accessing a library would be “very easy.” Just 60% of immigrant Hispanics report having visited a library or bookmobile at some point, while at least four-fifths (80%) of U.S. born Latinos, whites, and blacks reported the same.

For both U.S. born and immigrant Latinos, though, public library services are rated very highly. Immigrant Hispanics in particular are 3 times as likely to rate services beyond book lending as important. Services rated the highest by Latinos include help finding and applying for a job and help applying for government programs, permits or licenses. Though Hispanics overall tend to use the library less, they are just as likely (65%) as whites and blacks (63% and 64%, respectively) to say that their library closing would have a major impact on their community.

Pew notes that one possible barrier to access and use among Hispanics, especially those that are first-generation immigrants, is language. Pew’s positive findings about Hispanics’ attitudes toward public libraries underlines the need to continue advocating for Latino populations and opening up avenues of access. The fact that Hispanic library users are disproportionately young compared with other demographic groups – nearly two-fifths (39%) are 16-29 years old – means that public libraries have the opportunity to foster many life-long learners among all Latino groups.

Want to know more? You can read Pew’s full report on public libraries and Hispanics here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Join us at the Pueblo CLiC Workshops!

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LRS staff will be partnering with staff from public and academic libraries as well as CLiC to present at 2 sessions at the CLiC workshops in Pueblo:

Colorado Library Websites and Social Media: What’s #Trending Now?
Monday, April 6, 9:30-10:45
Linda Hofschire & Dave Hodgins, Colorado State Library; Midori Clark, Pueblo City-County Library District; Cathalina Fontenelle & Vivienne Houghton, CU Health Sciences Library
Room: Ballroom Central

Facebook, Instagram, mobile design, virtual reference…Website features and social media choices abound for today’s libraries, but are you curious about how your library compares to the rest of the Colorado academic and public library community? Come to this session to learn about Library Research Service’s (LRS) biennial study where we’ve analyzed every—yes, every!—Colorado public library website for features that enable interactivity with patrons or enhance usability. New for 2014, we added all of Colorado’s academic libraries to the mix. We’ll share the highlights of our latest findings and major trends we’ve found since we kicked off the study in 2008. And there’s more! Staff from Pueblo City-County Library District and CU Health Sciences Library will share their website design and social media strategies, best practices, and lessons learned so you can go back to your library armed with the data and tools you need to bring your website and social media into the 21st century.

Who are the People in Your Neighborhood? Community Needs Assessment 101

Monday, April 6, 1:15-2:30
Linda Hofschire & Meghan Wanucha, Library Research Service; Kellie Cannon, Denver Public Library; and Elizabeth Kelsen Huber, CLiC
Room: ASG Chambers

Who does your public library serve? What challenges do they face? What are their needs and interests? What existing resources—such as nonprofits and government agencies—support your community? Join us to learn how to gather this information and use it to target and tailor library resources and services. We’ll cover approaches ranging from analyzing demographic data and surveying your community to more outside-the-box methods. And, we’ll feature homegrown examples like the Douglas County Libraries Community Reference Project, which embeds librarians in local organizations to learn about the needs and goals of their community, and the Denver Public Library’s Teen Asset Mapping Project, which used interviews with community organizations to discover existing resources for Denver teens and how to refine its services to fit into that landscape.

We hope to see you in Pueblo!

Library Journal survey finds that 73% of public libraries saw overall increase in operating budgets in 2014

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Image credit: Library Journal

After years of generally stagnant budgets for libraries, the numbers public libraries are reporting from 2014 reveal the continuation of an exciting upward trend. A total of 416 libraries across the country responded to Library Journal’s Budget Survey, and nearly three-fourths (73%) saw an overall increase in their operating budget. That’s a 13% increase from the proportion of public libraries claiming an increase just two years ago.

Not all of the news from this past year was completely positive – many libraries saw very narrow margins of victory, some libraries saw persistent budget decreases, and federal funding remained stagnant. And while materials budgets unfortunately aren’t showing much upward growth, the survey did reveal good news all around for library workers.

A large majority (81%) of libraries were able to secure a higher budget for salaries and personnel. However, there were some obvious discrepancies between small, rural libraries, many of which saw decreases in this area, and libraries serving much larger populations. Libraries serving half a million to a million people were the most likely to see increases in salary and personnel budgets (59%), and more than a third (39%) of libraries that serve over a million people received an increased budget for library workers. The increased popularity of programming, as well as better staffing and salaries, reflects a growing recognition of the importance of people to the future success and growth of public libraries.

You can check out all of the 2014 results and budget data collected by Library Journal here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library

Summer reading programs make a difference for Colorado families

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Each year, Colorado public libraries offer engaging summer reading programs to encourage children and teens to read for fun and to prevent summer learning loss. In summer 2014, the Colorado State Library invited Colorado public libraries to ask parents in their communities to help evaluate the effectiveness of these programs by completing a survey. Sixteen libraries chose to participate, and 672 parents/caregivers completed the survey. About half of all respondents reported that their children’s enjoyment of reading, reading skills, and reading by choice increased after participating in summer reading. These outcomes were even more prevalent among families participating in summer reading for the first time and parents of children ages 4-6. About 3 in 5 families participating in summer reading for the first time reported that their children’s enjoyment of reading increased, and about 3 in 5 families of children ages 4-6 reported that their children’s reading by choice increased. Check out our new summer reading Fast Facts to learn more and read in parents’ own words the difference summer reading made for their families.

One-third of African Americans and Latinos have used Wi-Fi access at public libraries

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Image credit: WifiForward

Public, free Wi-Fi access has exploded in recent years – essentially all public libraries now offer it – but only now are we beginning to get a fuller picture of how essential these services are to many communities.

ALA’s District Dispatch recently reported on a survey conducted by WifiForward about Americans’ usage of and attitudes toward public Wi-Fi networks. A majority of Americans have used a public access Wi-Fi network, often in a public library, and also feel that Wi-Fi networks have a positive impact on themselves and the community.

For African American and Latino populations, public Wi-Fi is particularly important, and one third of each of these communities has used the Internet via a public library Wi-Fi network. African Americans and Latinos who do use Wi-Fi also experience more positive impacts of the Internet. Among these communities, well over half indicate that access to the Internet helps them with education, saving time, job searches, and creative activities.

The fact that essentially all public libraries now offer Wi-Fi is clearly a victory, yet there are still many ways in which libraries and other public Wi-Fi providers can improve service and ensure the security of users. In fact, a large majority of all community groups surveyed (86% of whites, 85% of African Americans, and 84% of Latinos) think providers should focus more on the security of users’ information.

So far, this survey is one of the most thorough looks at how access to Wi-Fi networks influences the attitudes and behavior of different communities. You can delve into the full report here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

615 jobs posted on Library Jobline in 2014

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For our popular library job posting website, Library Jobline, 2014 was a spectacular year! In our newest Fast Facts report, we report a total of 615 jobs were posted in 2014—the most ever since we launched the service in 2007—and up a whopping 170% since 2009, the lowest year for job posts in the middle of the recession. Average wages also hit new highs for posts requiring ($25.31 per hour) or preferring ($24.45 per hour) the MLIS degree.

Library Jobline also became an increasingly national tool. In 2014, we had the most-ever posts for positions located outside Colorado, with the year-end picture split nearly evenly between Colorado (51%) and other states (49%). With more than 600 job seekers and more than 130 employers added in 2014 alone, jobs posted on Library Jobline also reached a wider audience. In fact, we sent the most emails ever—more than 617,000—about new job posts, and job posts were viewed nearly 430,000 times.

Are you hiring at your library? In the library job market yourself? Sign up for Library Jobline as an employer or jobseeker. Jobseekers can tell us what jobs they’re interested in and get emails sent straight to their inbox whenever new posts meet their criteria. And employers can reach more than 3,500 jobseekers and more than 600 followers on Twitter @libraryjobline.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

More than 75,000 books given away during One Book 4 Colorado in 2014

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Founded in 2012, One Book 4 Colorado (OB4CO) is a statewide annual initiative that offers free copies of the same book to every 4-year-old in Colorado. In 2014, the book was Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard. More than 75,000 books were given away at more than 500 sites, including public libraries, Reach Out and Read Health Clinics, and Denver Preschool Program preschool classrooms.

LRS surveyed both caregivers and participating agencies to learn more about the impact OB4CO had on families, children, and agencies. As reported in our newest Fast Facts, overall more than 3 out of 5 caregivers agreed that they spent more time reading with their child after receiving the book (64%), their child talked more about books and reading (62%), and their child was more interested in books and reading (64%). Parents with fewer books in their homes had higher levels of agreement with those statements.

Participating agencies also shared positive feedback about OB4CO. Nearly all (99%) of agency respondents agreed that children were excited to receive Grumpy Bird. More than 9 in 10 (92%) agreed that the program helped their agencies promote reading among children, and 88% agreed that OB4CO was an effective use of their time and effort. Agencies also appreciated collaborating with others in the program, with more than 7 in 10 (71%) agreeing that OB4CO provided an opportunity to reach out to other agencies interested in childhood education.

Voting for the OB4CO selection for 2015 is underway now! Watch videos of Colorado celebrities reading the book options here, then vote for your favorite! Voting is open until March 1.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

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LRS is part of the Colorado State Library, a unit of the Colorado Department of Education. We design and conduct library research for library and education professionals, public officials, and the media to inform practices and assessment needs. We partner with the Library and Information Science program at University of Denver's Morgridge College of Education to provide research fellowships to current MLIS students.

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

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