Archive for the Public Category

Be a part of the #RIPLeffect: Come to our PLA preconference!


Image credit: Public Library Association

Did you miss out on the inaugural Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) this past summer? Well, now’s your chance to be a part of the #RIPLeffect. RIPL instructors will be offering a full day preconference at PLA 2016 in Denver: Think, Do, Show: Practical Techniques for Analyzing, Using, and Visualizing Data to Improve Practice and Demonstrate Impact. This preconference will take place on Tuesday, April 5, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM. The curriculum is straight from RIPL 2015, refined and improved based on participant feedback!

Here is the program description:

Libraries collect a lot of data: circulation, program attendance, user satisfaction, etc. In this preconference, you will learn how to go beyond simply collecting and reporting on these numbers. Through a series of interactive exercises, you will discover how to analyze your data, use your results to inform your strategic planning, management, and communication with stakeholders, and visually present your statistics in infographics and other formats to demonstrate your library’s impact.


  1. Be able to conduct standard types of public library data analysis
  2. Have increased skills and confidence in using data for strategic planning, management, and communication with stakeholders
  3. Be able to visually present data so that it tells a powerful story about your library

To participate fully in the preconference, you will want to bring a laptop with Excel.


Denise Davis, Deputy Director, Sacramento Public Library
Linda Hofschire, Research Analyst, Library Research Service, Colorado State Library
Jamie LaRue, Consultant, LaRue and Associates Consulting
Zeth Lietzau, Director, Collections, Technology, & Strategy, Denver Public Library
Rochelle Logan, Consultant, Rochelle Logan Consulting
Jon Solomon, Assistant Director, Englewood Public Library
Nicolle Steffen, Director, Library Research Service, Colorado State Library
Meghan Wanucha, Research Assistant, Library Research Service, Colorado State Library
Sara Wright, Director, Berthoud Public Library

Want to sign up? PLA 2016 registration opens today (September 15, 2015) at 12:00 PM CDT. Simply select this preconference as part of the registration process. Hurry! Space is limited.

Interested in getting updates about future RIPL events – including a second RIPL that will be offered in 2016, as well as RIPL curriculum offerings at conferences, webinars, etc.? Go to the RIPL website and sign up for email updates in the “Overview” section.


Colorado ranked 22nd in 0-18 children’s well-being


Image credit: ZERO TO THREE

The nonprofit early development organization ZERO TO THREE recently released updated State Baby Facts factsheets about the status of infants, toddlers, and families across the country. Early literacy is just one piece of the early childhood education and development picture, so these factsheets are useful tools to help libraries and other early literacy organizations to understand current poverty, health, and early learning data and how their states compare nationally.

Here are some highlights from Colorado’s factsheet:

  • More than 1 in 4 (21%) Colorado infants and toddlers live at less than 100% of the federal poverty level.
  • One in 10 babies is born preterm, and 9% of babies have low birth weight in Colorado.
  • More than a quarter (27%) of Colorado children younger than 3 experience residential mobility (e.g., multiple moves).
  • Coloradans are doing better than the national averages for several early learning activities (perhaps libraries have a role to play in that?):
    • Well over half (57%) of parents or family members read to their 0-5-year-old each day.
    • More than 3 in 5 (63%) parents or family members tell stories and sing to their 0-5-year-old each day.
  • At the same time, the cost of infant childcare for Colorado single mothers is nearly half (48%) of their income.

Looking for practical tips to make your library more supportive of families with young children? Check out the research-tested SPELL Blueprint model which outlines activities and recommendations from the Supporting Parents in Early Literacy Through Libraries (SPELL) project.

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.

2013 Public Libraries Survey data now available

Image credit: Public Libraries Survey, IMLS

Image credit: Public Libraries Survey, IMLS

Brand-new national public library data is now available from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Fiscal year 2013 data from the annual Public Libraries Survey has just been added to the IMLS Compare Public Libraries and Search for Public Libraries tools. Try out the compare tool to see how your library stacks up to similar libraries across the country based on characteristics you choose. And the search tool is an easy way to pull together staff, budget, services, and collection information for any public library in the U.S.

Data files for FY2013 should be available soon!

52% of U.S. public libraries have at least one librarian on staff with an ALA-MLS degree

PLS FY2012_print release

Image credit: IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently sent print copies of its Public Libraries in the United States Report for Fiscal Year 2012 to all state libraries. This is the final result of the statistics and data gathered by state libraries into the Public Libraries Survey (PLS), and here in Colorado through the Public Library Annual Report (PLAR) which wrapped up data collection for 2014 earlier this spring.

We’ve shared some highlights with you earlier this year, but these data are too rich not to share more! Here are a few more stats that help show some interesting relationships between library services:

  • Having e-books in the library collection resulted in an average increase of 1.5 visits per capita (and libraries with e-books had significantly higher rates of circulation per capita than those without)
  • For each $1 spent on electronic materials per capita, 1 more item circulated for every 2 people in the library’s legal service area
  • The number of public access Internet computers has gone up 76% in the past 10 years
  • Funding from local governments has gone up by 7% in the past 10 years
  • Suburban (7.1) and rural (6.7) libraries had higher visit rates per capita than libraries in cities (5.6) or towns (6.1)
  • Circulation per capita was significantly higher (9.3) in libraries serving fewer than 2,500 people than in larger libraries

You can check out the Public Libraries in the United States Report for Fiscal Year 12 in full here. And, preliminary data for Colorado’s 2014 PLAR is available now in our interactive tool.

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.

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


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

Digital Inclusion_speed

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


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


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!


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


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

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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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