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21% of Americans without health insurance do not use the internet

21% of Americans without health insurance do not use the internet

health_insurance_final

Image Credit: Pew Research Center

On October 1, 2013, open enrollment began under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and approximately 2.8 million Americans visited Healthcare.gov to compare and apply for health coverage. For many, the online portal is the easiest and quickest way to accomplish these tasks and find related resources. Unfortunately, this option is not a viable one for the 15 percent of American adults who don’t use the internet for various reasons, as discussed in one of our recent Weekly Number posts. Furthermore, the Pew Research Center recently found that about 1 in 5 (21%) uninsured Americans don’t use the internet.

Forever devoted to the principle of equitable access, libraries are integral in ensuring that these offline parties are not denied the opportunity to obtain affordable health coverage. Those who do not use the internet due to lack of access will find it offered for free at the library, and those experiencing difficulty in navigating the internet might benefit from library programs aimed at teaching basic technology skills. Additionally, libraries across the country have taken special efforts to disseminate information about the ACA, and help interested parties obtain coverage. In Colorado, for example, interested parties can find a list of library presentations on the ACA throughout the state—and elsewhere—via the Connect for Health Colorado portal, or via individual libraries’ websites (e.g., the Denver Public Library’s “Affordable Care Act” page). At other libraries, such as the Waukegan Public Library in Illinois, patrons can “drop in” for bilingual group or one-on-one sessions with library staff to determine their eligibility for certain plans, compare prices, and apply for coverage. The passage of the ACA has afforded libraries another opportunity to demonstrate that they are receptive and responsive toward community needs, and they are surely up to the task.

Additional resources:

 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 3 out of 4 public libraries in the U.S. serve communities of less than 25,000 people

More than 3 out of 4 public libraries in the U.S. serve communities of less than 25,000 people

small_librariesImage credit: IMLS

What’s not surprising: rural and small libraries provide critical resources and serve as community anchors to populations of less than 25,000 and non-urban areas. What is surprising? That small and rural libraries make up more than 80 percent of U.S. libraries as of Fiscal Year 2011, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) brief, “The State of Small and Rural Libraries in the United States.” Across the country, more than 3 out of 4 public libraries serve communities of less than 25,000 people, and nearly half of all U.S. public libraries are in rural areas. The breakdown of “small” and “rural” in Colorado’s 114 public libraries follows fairly closely to national numbers: 54 percent of public libraries are rural while 76 percent are small, according to the IMLS data. (It is important to note that while most rural libraries are also small, not all small libraries are also rural. Get more details about these differences, as well as the breakdown of subcategories within these identifiers, in the full IMLS briefing.)

As might be expected, rural areas have more difficulty obtaining broadband access than their urban counterparts. However, rural libraries are working to ease this divide by increasing the number of public access computers (see the Colorado State Library’s BTOP project for an example of this), up more than 20 percent across 3 years (FY2009-FY2011). Across the same time period, small libraries have had a similar increase in the number of public access computers (18%). Interestingly, libraries serving communities of less than 25,000 provide 21.1 million e-books to their users, or 60 percent of all e-book holdings in the U.S.

And it’s not just technology: both rural and small libraries have seen increases in overall circulation and visitation from FY2009 to FY2011. In fact, visits per capita are higher at rural and small libraries—7.6 visits per year and 5.5 visits per year—than at their more urban and larger (serving 25,000+) counterparts at 5.7 visits per year and 4.5 visits per year, respectively.

Interested in showing how your small or rural library is making an impact? View your library’s annual statistics through our interactive tool, as well as state totals, averages, and ratios. And don’t forget other sources of public library data, such as the Public Library Funding and Technology Access study and the Public Library Data Service study, that also provide useful information.

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.

15% of American adults don’t use the internet

pew_nonImage credit: Pew Internet

Despite the fact that an increasing number of job applications and other important resources are being offered solely online, not everyone in the U.S. uses the internet. This simple fact has been emphasized countless times in years past, through discussion of the “Digital Divide.” Most recently, in the report Who’s Not Online and Why, Pew Internet indicated that, as of May 2013, 15% of American adults don’t use the internet.

Why not? About one-third (34%) of non-users just don’t believe the internet has any relevance to their lives. These non-users are not interested in using the internet, and some think using the internet is a waste of time. Another one-third of non-users (32%) cite usability issues as reasons for not using the internet. Some of these non-users deem using the internet as too difficult or frustrating, while others claim they are “too old” or physically unable to use the internet. About one-fifth (19%) do not use the internet because of the expense it entails, and 7 percent cite a lack of access to the internet.

Pew’s report provides libraries with a better understanding of non-users and how to serve them. Some non-users might never develop an appreciation for the internet—no matter the efforts of others to demonstrate its utility—and will continue to rely on libraries to provide information in non-digital formats. Other non-users, however, might simply need more incentive to use the internet, and libraries can seize this opportunity to demonstrate why it is beneficial and, in many cases, a necessity. For the non-users who simply do not have access to the internet, or do not know how to use it, libraries can, of course, serve as an important resource, providing free high-speed access and technology-oriented classes. For a great example of this, see LRS’s Fast Facts series on the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP), and its positive effects in Colorado:

Libraries: What attempts have you made to reach non-users to market your technology resources and classes? Have they been successful?

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.

72% of online adults use social networking sites

72% of online adults use social networking sites

Pew_Adult Social Media Use

You suspected it, but here’s the proof: nearly three-quarters of online adults use social media, according to a May 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center. And more and more older adults are using them, too: adoption rates have jumped to 43 percent among those 65 and older.

So what does this mean for libraries? Meet your users where they are – in this case, on social networking sites. Preliminary data from an LRS study of public library websites and social media use suggest that libraries are getting there: almost 3 in 4 public libraries from our national sample were on Facebook and 2 in 5 were on Twitter. Stay tuned to LRS.org for final results from our biennial study. In the meantime, take a look at what we found in 2008 and 2010 on our page devoted to this study: http://www.lrs.org/data-tools/public-libraries/u-s-public-libraries-and-the-use-of-web-technologies/.

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.

Nearly 50% of library workers say the economic downturn would lead them to retire later and/or stay in their current job

Nearly 50% of library workers say the economic downturn would lead them to retire later and/or stay in their current job

Retirement_school libsImage credit: Library Leadership & Management

A new study published in Library Leadership & Management dives into results from a national survey of current library workers regarding their retirement plans, particularly after the economic downturn. Analysis suggests that while more than one-fourth of respondents ages 50-59 and almost three-fourths of respondents in their 60s and 70s plan to retire in the next 5 years, close to half of all respondents said that the economic downturn would lead them to retire later and/or stay in their current job. For three-fourths of respondents, pay and health benefits were “very important” or “critical” factors in their decisions to keep working. As might be expected, those at school libraries were far more likely to leave the field or retire early than their public and academic library colleagues, perhaps alluding to the vulnerable status of school libraries.

Learn more about the changing library workforce here in Colorado at our webpage devoted to publications, presentations, and research on the topic.

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 5 Unique Tools Loaned by Libraries

leak_detector

Image credit: Ann Arbor District Library

1. Thermal leak detector – Ann Arbor District Library (Michigan)

2. Table saw – Berkeley Public Library (California)

3. Hedge shears – Fletcher Free Library (Vermont)

4. Wood carving tool set – Grosse Pointe Public Library (Michigan)

5. Energy meter – Jefferson County Public Library (Colorado)

Libraries have been getting some national love recently! NPR’s Keys To The Whole World: American Public Libraries series, an NBC Nightly News piece on unique lending items, not to mention the newly opened BiblioTech digital public library in San Antonio—it’s always refreshing to see libraries talked about in a positive way, especially by those outside Library Land. To highlight some of the amazing services libraries are providing beyond what’s traditionally been expected of them, we’re introducing a new feature called “Beyond Books.” From time to time, we’ll be sharing examples of unique lending programs, events, and outreach that libraries are offering, and we’ll be asking for your input, too! Share your library’s stories with us, and tell us what we’ve missed.

First up? Tools. Of course this is not a new service for libraries to provide, but one that’s been reinvigorated thanks to unique community needs and savvy librarians who know how to respond. What’s the most popular tool lent at your library?

Through the One Book 4 Colorado program, 74,000 copies of a new book were distributed to all 4-year-olds in Colorado

Through the One Book 4 Colorado program, 74,000 copies of a new book were distributed to all 4-year-olds in Colorado

ob4coIn May 2013, about 74,000 free copies of the book Duck on a Bike were distributed to 4-year-olds across Colorado during the second annual One Book 4 Colorado program (OB4CO), which aims to increase awareness of the importance of early-childhood reading. Parental response to the program was positive, as indicated by survey results. Seventy-five percent of parents responding to the survey claimed that they had read Duck on a Bike with their child multiple times. About half of the responding parents also agreed or strongly agreed that they spend more time reading with their child since participating in OB4CO. Additionally, about half of responding parents stated that their child is more interested in/talks more about books thanks to OB4CO.

A recent report by the Pew Research Center, Parents, Children, Libraries, and Reading, addresses the use of libraries by families, and further examines parents’ perceptions of the importance of libraries in their children’s development. According to the report, 7 in 10 parents (70%) reported that their child had visited a library in the previous 12 months. Of the children who visited libraries, almost half (46%) attended a library event, such as the OB4CO’s giveaway. More importantly, more than 9 in 10 (94%) parents stated that libraries are important for their children, and 84 percent of these parents believe that “libraries help inculcate their children’s love of reading and books.”

Interested in learning more about early literacy and libraries? Check out our Fast Facts, “Early Literacy Information on Colorado Public Library Websites.” This report includes a link to early literacy resources that libraries can add to their websites.

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.

On average, each Colorado resident checked out 12 items from public libraries in 2012

On average, each Colorado resident checked out 12 items from public libraries in 2012

PLAR_circWe know that borrowing books is a very important service libraries provide – 80% of Americans say so. But how does this opinion translate into action? In Colorado last year, libraries circulated more than 66 million items, according to the 2012 Annual Public Library Survey. In other words, each Colorado resident checked out an average of 12 items in 2012, a figure that has generally increased each year since we started collecting these statistics in the late 1980s.

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.

Study shows that one library district’s return on investment to taxpayers was up to 400%

Study shows that one library district’s return on investment to taxpayers was up to 400%

roi

Image credit: Santa Clara County Library District

What value does your library provide to users? A recent return on investment (ROI) study of Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) examined how their community benefited from the library in 5 areas:

  • Enhancing early literacy and youth education
  • Promoting lifelong learning and personal growth
  • Building and bridging diverse communities
  • Providing access to information and technology for all
  • Supporting personal recreation and quality of life

The results showed  that in 2011-12, for every dollar that SCCLD spent, the community received between  $2.50 and $5.17 in quantifiable benefits (computers, programming and community events, materials, etc.). In other words, taxpayers received up to a 400% return on investment. Of course, many library features cannot be easily counted, so stakeholder interviews were also conducted to examine the intangible benefits that users received. A wide range of benefits were identified, including the following:

  • An efficient, environmentally-conscious way to provide shared resources
  • Opportunities for exploration, creativity, and expression
  • A gathering place for diverse communities throughout the library district
  • Individual and community benefits of personal health and wellness
  • Expert guidance in identifying reliable information sources  and the cultivation of information literacy

Are you trying to demonstrate the value of your library to stakeholders? Check out the study report for some ideas on documenting its quantifiable and non-quantifiable benefits.

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.

57% of teens improved their digital media skills through participation in a 21st-century library learning space

57% of teens improved their digital media skills through participation in a 21st-century library learning space

youmedia

Image credit: Cynthia Howe

YOUmedia is a 21st-century learning space for teens located in 5 Chicago Public Library branches. It provides a place where teens can access and learn about digital media (photo and video editing, web design, podcasting, audio recording, etc.), and collaborate with their peers and mentors in a supportive environment.

The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research recently released the findings of a study they conducted of the impacts of YOUmedia on teen participants. A little more than half (57%) of the respondents reported that they improved their digital media skills (making a video, producing a podcast, creating a website, etc.) through their involvement in YOUmedia. In addition, more than half said that YOUmedia helped them with their schoolwork, and improved their writing skills and their communication with adults.

Through an IMLS and MacArthur Foundation grant, learning labs inspired by YOUmedia will be created by 12 organizations (7 libraries and 5 museums) across the country.

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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