Archive for the Public Category

8,956: Number of public libraries in the U.S. in FY2011

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The Institute of Museum and Library Services recently released a preview of its Fiscal Year 2011 Public Libraries in the United States Survey, a compilation of responses of 98% of public libraries in the country. (Here in Colorado, our Public Library Annual Report—which just wrapped up data collection for 2013—contributes data to the IMLS survey). The full report is forthcoming, but here are a few of our favorite stats:

  • 95% of the U.S. population is served by nearly 9,000 public libraries.
  • Libraries saw 1.53 billion visits – that’s more than 4.2 million visits per day! (And it’s important to note that that doesn’t include virtual visits.)
  • 2.44 billion materials circulated, or just over 8 items per person.
  • What’s going up: public library program attendance (for the 8th year in a row), number of programs, number of collection materials, number of public access Internet computers.
  • What’s going down: number of FTE staff, in-person visits, number of usage sessions of public access Internet computers. It’s important to note that in the national survey, wireless access uses are not counted, although some states, including Colorado, collect this information. In Colorado, the number of wireless access uses reported increased by 62% from 2011 to 2012.
  • At the same time, the overall number of public librarians has been pretty stable for the past 10 years, hovering around an average 4.0 librarians per 25,000 people.

We’ll be watching for the full report release here. In the meantime, check out IMLS’s state-by-state profiles, and you can find Colorado’s here. Of course you can always access the most recent results from Colorado’s Public Library Annual Report through our interactive tool right here at LRS.org! We just posted the 2013 preliminary data file.

 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 PLA to learn how to create a data-based elevator speech

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Will you be attending PLA next week? If so, we hope you will join us for our session, “Minute to Win It: Make the Case for Your Library with a Data-Based Elevator Speech.” Here are the details:

Minute to Win It: Make the Case for Your Library with a Data-Based Elevator Speech
Linda Hofschire & Meghan Wanucha
Friday, March 14, 10:45 am-12:00 pm
Indiana Convention Center, room 101

Does your elevator speech sound more like elevator music? Learn how to add meaning and value to it by brainstorming and sharing examples of how to combine statistics with stories to craft a powerful advocacy message for various stakeholders. You are encouraged to bring data from your annual Public Library Survey results and/or any other statistics you collect about your library for use in drafting your own elevator speech.

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A survey of US and Canadian public libraries found that 93% offer digital readers’ advisory

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Image credit: Library Journal

Amid the chatter of new technologies and service models, sometimes more “traditional” library services can be lost in the noise. Library Journal surveyed nearly 700 public libraries in the U.S. and Canada to get a better picture of one of those traditional services: readers’ advisory (RA).

While every single library offered personal RA in the library, the actual service model varied. A strong majority (85%) offered RA at the reference desk, and 59% offered the service at the circulation desk. Nearly all respondents also offered self-directed RA, ranging from book displays (94%) to printed resources (75%) to shelf talkers (39%). Digital RA is also popular—more than 9 in 10 libraries (93%) offered it—with most service taking the form of online resources like book lists and read-alikes. Social media is also a popular outlet, with about half of libraries (49%) using social tools specifically for book recommendations.

Nearly 3 in 5 public libraries (59%) measured RA services in some way, typically through usage statistics from e-resources like NoveList (38%) or tracking the number of RA-related questions (24%). Unfortunately, measuring general RA service success is much more limited, with just 9% of libraries monitoring return RA business and only 4% offer a feedback loop on the quality of staff recommendations.

Interestingly, at 7 out of 10 public libraries, RA services were provided by the entire staff. About a quarter of libraries (26%) had certain staff or subject specialists who offered RA, and less than 1 in 10 (9%) had full-time readers’ advisors on staff. Generally, staff felt challenged when faced with keeping up with new books, authors, and genres, but most (61%) rely on book recommendation databases like NoveList and professional journals (42%) to keep up with trends.

Check out our other recent Weekly Number posts where we discuss reports on adults’ reading habits and children’s consumption of educational media.

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.

Median e-book circulation in U.S. public libraries more than doubled in 2013

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Image credit: Library Journal

Last week, we highlighted some of Pew Internet’s recent findings on Americans’ reading habits, including trends in e-book reading and tablet usage. For the library perspective, Library Journal offers an annual survey on how e-books are being used and adopted in U.S. public libraries. In its fourth year, the 2013 survey includes data from more than 500 libraries about e-book circulation, collection, and acquisition.

Generally, e-book demand has eased off and collections are more stable, all while circulation continues to grow. Of those libraries surveyed, nearly 9 of 10 (89%) libraries offer e-books—the same as in 2012—and a quarter of those who don’t offer e-books planned to start in the upcoming year. Median e-book collection size continues to grow, rising from 5,080 in 2012 to 7,380 in 2013. Median circulation more than doubled from 2012, and it surpassed the 12,000 mark in 2013. This despite that 91% of public libraries’ e-book titles are lent using a one-title/one-user model and the average holds-to-copy ratio was 6 to 1.

As is to be expected, respondents reported the major barriers to e-book usage were limited numbers of e-books and availability of popular titles. And the public is still having trouble making the e-book checkout process work: More than 2 in 5 (43%) respondents said they heard patrons ask for help downloading e-books on their devices every day. Resources to purchase e-books are also limited, but libraries seem to be making do, whether by reallocating funds from elsewhere in the materials budget or looking to consortia for help.

Read the full report, available for download courtesy of Library Journal, to learn out more about how public libraries are handling everything from device lending programs to purchasing terms. And check out statistics on e-books in Colorado’s public libraries through our interactive data tool at http://www.lrs.org/public/data/basic/.

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 CLiC Spring Workshops!

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Will you be attending the CLiC spring workshop in Grand Junction next week? If so, we hope you will join us for our two sessions:

Don’t Say Cheese: Take Great Photos for Your Website and Social Media Networks, Monday, March 3 9:45-11:00 AM, Adobe/Escalante, Linda Hofschire & Dave Hodgins

Learn how to take better photos with your digital camera, whether you use the camera on your phone, a point and shoot, or an SLR. In this session, we will discuss exposure, composition, photographing people and objects, and basic photo editing. We will also share examples of how libraries are using photos effectively on their websites and social media networks to attract and engage users.

Minute To Win It: Make the Case for Your Library with a Data-Based Elevator Speech, Tuesday, March 4, 10:45-12:00, Plateau/Dominguez, Linda Hofschire & Meghan Wanucha

Circulation, program attendance, website visits—these are just a few of the statistics you are already gathering at your library. But how do you take these data and turn them into effective advocacy? In this interactive session, learn how to develop an elevator speech about your library, use statistics and stories to add value, and tailor the message to various stakeholders. You will have the opportunity to draft an elevator speech and share it with others if desired. You are encouraged to bring any statistics you collect about your library for use in drafting your speech.

If you aren’t able to make it to Grand Junction, you can also join us for these same sessions at the Pueblo CLiC spring workshop on April 24-25.

In 2012, internet computers at Colorado’s public libraries were used more than 6.8 million times

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In our new Fast Facts, Computers in Colorado’s Public Libraries, we dive into data from the 2012 Public Library Annual Report to offer insight into the state of computer use and technology hardware offered in Colorado’s public libraries. We also examined trend data for the past decade (where available) to demonstrate how libraries have adapted to the growing demand for and changes in technology—from number of computers to wireless availability. So what does this demand look like? In 2012, internet computers were used more than 6.8 million times!

Of course library services don’t end in the building: The library website has increasingly become a portal to 24/7 access to what the libraries have to offer. In Colorado, 89% of public libraries have websites, according to original research completed by the Networking & Resource Sharing Office of the Colorado State Library. And patrons are using this access point: Libraries reported about 25 million unique visitors to their websites in 2012.

Learn more about what services libraries are offering online with our national, longitudinal research project U.S. Public Libraries and Web Technologies. Zoom in on the trends in Colorado in our Fast Facts report and infographic.

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.

U.S. children ages 2-10 spend an average of 40 minutes a day reading

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Image credit: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center

In a recent national survey of parents of young children (ages 2-10), researchers asked parents how much time their kids spent with educational media across different formats and what their kids learned, as well as about their kids’ reading behaviors. (“Educational media” was defined as media the parents thought was “good for their child’s learning or growth or that teaches some type of lesson, such as an academic or social skill.”)

Overall, parents said their children spend just over 2 hours a day (2:07) with screen media, with 44% of that deemed “educational” by the adults. The amount of time spent with educational media decreased as age increased, with the youngest group, ages 2-4, spending 1:16 hours a day and the oldest group, ages 8-10, spending just 42 minutes. As might be expected, TV was the dominant form of educational screen media, with three-fourths (76%) of all educational media in a given day being streamed through a TV.

Parents were also asked to indicate what their children learned by using educational media. Among those who used it weekly, more parents said their child learned “a lot” about cognitive skills and reading/vocabulary (both 37%) and math (28%) than science (19%) or the arts (15%). Interestingly, format mattered: More parents said their child learned a lot from educational TV than from mobile devices. The children who use educational media weekly are also doing something about the media they view: Their parents said they talk about what they saw or did (87%), engage in imaginative play about it (78%), and ask questions about it (77%). Even better? Three of 5 parents (60%) said their children taught them something about what they saw or did.

This group of 2- to 10-year-olds spent an average of 40 minutes a day reading or being read to, of which 29 minutes were spent on print books, 8 minutes on a computer, and 5 minutes on an e-reader or tablet.  The amount of time parents and children spent reading together decreased as age increased, with 2- to 4-year-olds spending 44 minutes co-reading and 8- to 10-year-olds spending 24 minutes co-reading. Differences in reading time were not statistically significant based on race, income, or parent education, or among the age groups; however, there was a significant difference in children’s gender, with girls reading for 46 minutes a day and boys reading for 34 minutes, on average.

Read more about how families are interacting with educational media—or choosing not to—in the full report. This rich report also breaks down the topics by race/ethnicity, education level, and family income to gain deeper insight into how parents view educational media.

Libraries: how do you connect families with educational media resources? Let us know by chatting with us on Twitter.

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.

Top 3 animals and people you can check out at libraries

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Image credit: Harvard Library

Did you know that some libraries loan – or provide access to – animals and people, for the general well-being of their patrons? Students at Harvard, Yale, and Emory can de-stress and momentarily escape the rigors of academic life by checking out a library therapy dog. At Harvard Library, for instance, students can borrow Cooper, a tiny six-year-old Shih Tzu, for 30 minutes at a time. Meanwhile, several public libraries throughout the U.S. and Canada, such as the San Francisco Public Library, have professional social workers and/or outreach workers on staff to provide patrons with information about emergency services (e.g., food, housing), family matters, and immigration. Finally, “human library” programs – offered at places like the Santa Monica Public Library and the Bainbridge Island Public Library – allow patrons to converse, one-on-one, with others who have had unique life experiences. Pioneered in Denmark, human library programs aim to expose patrons to alternative perspectives – thereby increasing their understanding – and produce a sense of common ground. Find out more about these unique programs by following these links:

1.)    Therapy dogs:

Cooper, the Shih Tzu – Harvard Library, Harvard University

Monty, the border terrier mix – Yale University Library, Yale

Multiple therapy dogs – Robert W. Woodruff Library, Emory University

2.)    Professionals (discussed in Multnomah County Public Library’s report, Homelessness, Human Services, and Libraries):

Social worker – San Francisco Public Library

Outreach/social workers – Edmonton Public Library

Outreach worker – Sacramento Public Library

Public health nurses  – Pima County Public Library

3.)    People to converse with, who have had unique life experiences, via “human library” programs:

Santa Monica Public Library

Bainbridge Island Library

Does your library loan animals and/or humans? Let us know by chatting with us on Twitter.

Note: This post is part of our “Beyond Books” series. From time to time, we’ll be sharing examples of unique lending programs, events, and outreach that libraries are offering.

A Multnomah County Library survey found that about 1 in 5 patrons using computers did so for job-related purposes

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Image credit: Multnomah County Library

Libraries have always been known for the information resources they provide; however, for some, they provide much more, and even serve as lifelines. A recent survey conducted by the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon affords insight into the ways in which people rely on public libraries during times of hardship. The survey – administered at two separate locations, on different days, to entering patrons – received more than 1,000 responses. Of those patrons who completed the survey, nearly 1 in 5  were homeless. Some key findings included:

  • About half of the respondents visited the library to use the computers; of these, 26% were homeless.
  • About 1 in 5 respondents using computers were doing so for job-related purposes; of these, 44% were homeless.
  • More than 1 in 10 respondents intended to search for essential services online, such as those related to finding housing, jobs, or counseling for mental health, substance abuse, or domestic violence; of these, 44% were  homeless.

In response to the survey results, Multnomah County Library created a plan to improve its services for patrons coping with hardships like homelessness and mental illness. Within six to twelve months, the Library will designate and train certain employees to serve as Persons In Charge (PICs), who will be responsible for knowing about essential county- and independently-offered services, in order to “facilitate better referrals to patrons.” Within this timeframe, the Library also hopes to have all PICs complete an eight-hour Mental Health First Aid course. At 12 months, the Library will collaborate with the Department of Human Services to develop a training course for other, non-PIC employees likely to interact with patrons in need.

Though impressive, Multnomah’s efforts are just some of the many ways in which public libraries help those in need. How does your library reach out? How can it improve its efforts? Do you know of a particular public library that deserves recognition in this area? Let us know by chatting with us on Twitter.

 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.

A survey of Colorado parents found that 75% read to their young children (ages 0-3) daily

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Image credit: Aurora Public Library Early Literacy Center

The Supporting Parents in Early Literacy through Libraries (SPELL) project recently presented findings from its study on effective strategies for developing early literacy messaging and support to low-income families and parents of children from birth to 3 years old. The project included an extensive environmental scan and literature review to find patterns and major trends across disciplines, the results of which are available here.

The next phase of the project included a survey and focus groups of more than 250 families with children from birth to 3 years old in 2 metro and 2 rural communities in Colorado. Topics covered in this phase included use of library services, information-seeking behaviors, and reading activities.

So what did field research have to say? Public libraries are used by people of all income levels, however low-income families made more use of library services, especially the building itself. Low-income families attended library programs for children less frequently than more affluent families, but they reported attending adult programs more frequently. Library staff were considered valuable resources for encouraging reading, while other resources (such as a doctor’s office or church) were consulted for information on raising and educating children. Every survey respondent believed it is important to read to young children. And, three-fourths of the respondents reported reading to their children daily; however, these results varied based on income, number of children at home, and education levels.

Learn more about the results in the study report. A blueprint of best practices based on project findings is also available to help libraries and community partners implement early literacy initiatives.

Want more early literacy information? Check out our Fast Facts, Early Literacy Information on Colorado Public Library Websites, and visit the Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy website for extensive resources, practical guides, and real stories from Colorado libraries.

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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