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Less than 38% of young Americans can complete tech tasks more difficult than sorting e-mails into folders.

Group of students in library using tablet PC

Although the United States invented the personal computer, its young adults are falling behind many other countries in their technological proficiency, according to a recent article in Education Week. The article cites a study performed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in which young adults aged 16 – 24 years, from 19 countries, attempted to perform tasks of three different difficulty levels, including sorting e-mails into folders, organizing data into spreadsheets, and managing reservations for virtual meeting rooms. Young adults from the U.S. performed the worst, as less than 38 percent could successfully complete tasks more difficult than sorting e-mails into folders; and 11 percent were unable to perform the most basic exercises – the second-highest rate among the participating countries. In comparison, 44 percent of Sweden’s young adults achieved the two highest levels of proficiency.

How can the U.S. facilitate digital literacy among young adults? Educators, in particular, can play a role by introducing students to various technologies, and teaching them to use them. In fact, school librarians are uniquely positioned to work with students to increase these skills, with their emphases on 21st-century instruction strategies such as teaching students to use digital resources and to use technology to organize and share information. Also, Brian Lewis, the chief executive officer of the International Society for Technology Education, an educational technology advocacy group, recommends that educators engage students with technologies they are already accustomed to, such as digital games. Once educators have captured their students’ attention, they can then focus their attention toward using technology for, perhaps, less fun, but more useful, purposes.

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.

2013-14 School Library Survey now open!

Are you a librarian at a public school in Colorado? If so, we hope you will take the annual school library survey! It is available at http://www.lrs.org/slsurvey/. We’re continually working on ways to improve this survey and make better use of the results. Did you know that:

  • In 2011-12, we updated the survey so that the questions more accurately reflect the 21st century learning environment. This helps all of us to better tell the story of Colorado school libraries—their accomplishments, their challenges, and their potential to empower students in today’s global and technology-rich environment.
  • This past spring, we used the survey results, combined with some other research we’ve done, to create an infographic that links school libraries and librarians to student achievement.
  • And, we are in the process of creating new and improved school library profiles, which we will debut in spring 2014 using your results from this year’s survey. While these profiles already exist, we are redoing them so that they will serve as effective tools for self-assessment and promotion.

For these reasons and more, we encourage you to take the survey. The survey deadline is Friday, November 1, 2013.

You should have received your login information in a letter and/or email, but if you need it, please contact us at lrs@lrs.org or 303.866.6900.

Thank you for your participation in this year’s Colorado School Library Survey!

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.

The average copyright year of history/geography books in Colorado’s school libraries is 1995

copyrightIt’s difficult to imagine K-12 schools not teaching students about the tragedies that unfolded on September 11, 2001. Indeed, Colorado K-12 students attending public schools do learn about that day’s events during their history/social studies classes, but they will likely encounter problems if they try to search for additional information about the event in their school library’s history section. According to the 2012-2013 School Library Survey results, the average copyright for books that fall in the 900 range (history and geography) of the Dewey Decimal System is 1995—when Bill Clinton was still serving his first term.

Are you looking for funding sources to update your school library’s resources? Check out this blog post for links to possible grant opportunities.

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.

In 2011-12, 52% of US public school library staff had a master’s degree in a library-related field

In 2011-12, 52% of US public school library staff had a master’s degree in a library-related field

nces

According to survey results from the 2011-12 National Center for Education Statistics Salary and Staffing Survey, two-thirds of US library media centers in traditional public schools and one-third of public charter schools had at least one paid full-time state-certified library media center specialist. About 20 percent of all public schools with library media centers operated with no full-time or part-time paid, state-certified library media center specialists.

On the surface, these are straightforward facts taken from these survey results. In reality, school librarians and libraries are notoriously difficult to define, count, and report. For example, New York City’s 1,700 public schools now employ 333 certified librarians—however not all of them are working as librarians. It is also worth noting the term “state-certified” is a very specific phrase indicating a staff member who has achieved state certification as a school library media specialist as deemed by the state’s licensure office (see Colorado’s endorsement requirements here). This is not equivalent to the staff member having an MLIS, despite the American Association of School Librarians’ position statement on Preparation of School Librarians that states “the master’s degree is considered the entry-level degree for the profession.” So, while more than 4 out of 5 full-time or part-time paid professional library staff were state-certified according to the NCES survey, only 52 percent had a master’s degree in a library-related major.

These examples call attention to the significance of research definitions and how, as savvy research consumers, we must be aware of context and background when considering results. And don’t get us started on how “library” is defined—we’ll dive into that gem soon, so stay tuned!

Tease out the importance of endorsed school librarians with our impact study summary infographic and webpage detailing the impact these staff members have on student achievement.

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.

23% of U.S. teenagers have a tablet device

23% of U.S. teenagers have a tablet device

teens_and_tablets

In March of this year, the Pew Research Center conducted a study on teenage technology use, and found that mobile access to the internet among teens is “pervasive.” According to the study, almost half of teens (47%) own a smartphone, and almost 1 in 4 (23%) own a tablet (which is comparable to the general adult population). Additionally, almost 3 in 4 teens (74%) say that they use mobile devices to check the internet at least occasionally, and 1 in 4 (25%) claim to be “cell-mostly” internet users. This apparent enthusiasm for mobile technologies, such as tablet devices, has not yet been matched by the institutions charged with educating teens—not in Colorado, at least. For the 2012-2013 school year, responses to the Colorado School Library Survey indicate that in Colorado’s public high schools, there is a median of less than one tablet (0.67) with access to library resources per 100 students.

Are you looking for funding sources to purchase tablets for your library? Check out these links for possible grant opportunities:

For more information about technology in Colorado school libraries, see our Fast Facts, Colorado School Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies, 2011-2012, as well as the 2012-2013 Colorado School Library Survey results.

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.

2012-2013 Colorado School Library Survey data now available

2012-2013 Colorado School Library Survey data now available

blog_post

Every year, we conduct a survey of Colorado public school libraries. The results of this survey, which include information about library instruction strategies, collections, web presence, staffing, usage, and budgets, help administrators, school library staff, and other stakeholders with planning and evaluation. These results are also used to market and advocate for school libraries; for example, earlier this year we published a school library infographic that shows the impact of school libraries on academic achievement.

Results from the 2012-2013 survey are now available. We’re excited to present a brand new set of tools for interacting with the survey data. The tools will enable you to:

  • quickly locate data for a single year and statistic group
  • build custom data sets by specifying statistics, grade level, enrollment, etc.
  • visualize data using graphs
  • export data in .csv format

Check them out at http://www.lrs.org/data-tools/school-libraries/annual-statistics/!

60% of Colorado school librarians help students evaluate the credibility of information at least once a week

60% of Colorado school librarians help students evaluate the credibility of information at least once a week

student_skills

Image credit: Pew Internet

According to a Pew Research Center survey of more than 2,400 Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers, digital and web technologies are having beneficial and tangible impacts on student writing and skills needed for the future. When asked to rate the importance of various skills in contributing to their students’ success in life, the ability to judge the quality of information topped the list, with more than 9 out of 10 teachers calling it an “essential” skill for the future. School librarians are vital to building this skill, and the findings of our annual survey of Colorado public school libraries indicate that 60% of certified  librarians help students evaluate the credibility of information and web resources at least once a week.

Other skills deemed “essential” by a majority of teachers in the Pew survey include: behaving responsibly online, understanding online privacy issues, and finding information quickly. School librarians provide the foundation for such skills, by teaching students how to use digital resources, as well as how to use technology to organize and share information. Simply put, skills that teachers believe are important for the future are the same ones being taught by school librarians as part of everyday instruction.

Find out more about what skills Colorado school librarians are teaching with our newly released 2012-13 Colorado School Library Survey results, available at http://www.lrs.org/school/data/.

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.

38% of younger Americans have used computers and the internet at libraries in the past year

pew_younger

Image credit: Pew Internet

The Pew Research Center’s newest stats from its Internet & American Life Library Services Survey dive into younger Americans’ (16-29 years old) library and reading habits and reveal an interesting blend of technology and traditional service expectations. Perhaps most telling is that this group is significantly more likely to have either used technology at libraries or accessed online library services than adults older than 30. For example, 38% of younger Americans have used computers and the internet at libraries in the past year, compared with 22% of Americans ages 30 and older. Such tech-centric use is balanced by the younger generation’s ties to print media, as three-quarters say they have read at least one print book in the past year, well above the 64% of older adults. This mix of preferences extends to library services, with 3 out of 4 younger adults saying it’s very important for libraries to offer free access to computers and the internet as well as books for borrowing.

For more on Americans’ reading habits over time, check out Pew’s interactive tool reporting stats by age group.

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.

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