Archive for the Technology Category

Pew Survey finds that two-thirds of Americans would like to do more to protect their personal data

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Image credit: Pew Internet Project

Librarians have long been advocates for the privacy rights of ordinary citizens, whether they are protecting citizens from the government, corporations, or even libraries themselves. While it is not news that Americans are increasingly concerned about the status of their personal information, the extent to which they are concerned about their privacy across various media platforms, delineated in a new survey by Pew Research Internet Project, is staggering.

Pew surveyed 607 American adults about their perceptions of their own data security (“security” being the word most closely associated with “privacy” in Americans’ minds for this study), and almost all (91%) of the respondents agreed that they felt a lack of control over what information is collected by the government and commercial entities. Combine this with the fact that nearly all survey respondents (95%) have heard at least “a little” or “a lot” about government surveillance programs, and that those who have heard “a lot” are more likely to feel concerned about sharing information. These data imply that awareness of the issue correlates with heightened insecurity about the status of one’s data. Although respondents said they felt most secure communicating over a landline, out of six communication technologies there wasn’t a single one that they considered “very secure” for sharing private information.

It is difficult to discern, however, whom American adults believe should be most responsible for ensuring data privacy. Two thirds (64%) thought the government should be more involved in protecting personal data, and nearly the same amount (61%) felt that they would like to put forth more effort in securing their own personal information.

It should be noted, though, that while the survey indicates overall concern and distrust about how information in online environments is used, very few respondents actually had a negative experience as a result of their data trail. Yet these results clearly demonstrate a need in the American community for more information on how to advocate for and ensure the privacy of personal data.

Find the full Pew report on Public Perceptions of Privacy and Security in the Post-Snowden Era here.

And, are you looking for resources to help educate your patrons about internet privacy? Check out the Internet Privacy group on DigitalLearn.org.

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.

SLJ Survey indicates two-thirds of U.S. schools offer e-books, representing a slow but stable growth in e-book access

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Image credit: School Library Journal

As part of our look at e-book usage in U.S. libraries for 2014, we see in School Library Journal’s latest survey of school libraries that e-books are not faring quite as well in this environment as they are in public libraries. In fact, in the survey of 835 U.S. school libraries, one of the most frequent responses given by librarians is that they are far more enthusiastic about e-books than the students. School librarians report that demand exists but is not astounding, and less than half (44%) have seen demand increase. Although two-thirds of responding schools across the U.S. offer e-books (a 10% increase from last year), a shortage of devices and the cost of e-books were cited as the biggest barriers to access and usage.

One growing trend is for schools to provide e-reading devices in a one-to-one ratio for at least a portion of the students’ day. Nearly 1 in 5 (17%) respondents to the SLJ survey have a 1:1 device program in place, and demand for e-books is higher in these schools than in those that do not provide individual devices for students. Different school grade levels also show fluctuations in demand. While the demand for e-books in high schools seems to have peaked, it is actually increasing slightly in both elementary and middle schools.

While demand and usage of e-books in school libraries has not displayed the same dramatic trends as in public libraries, the SLJ survey indicates that school libraries are slowly warming up to e-books. Even though meager budgets will continue to be an issue for most school libraries to grapple with, librarians expect e-book spending to quadruple from its current rate by 2019, up to 13% of the total budget. How to get more devices into the hands of students and how to convince them that e-books have something to offer that print books do not, though, will be hurdles that school libraries will continue to face in future years.

Do you want to know about e-book collections and usage in Colorado schools? Check out our 2013-14 Annual Colorado School Library Survey Fast Facts, which reports that e-book collections have risen by 557% since 2008-09.

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 Survey reports median size of e-book collection in U.S. public libraries exceeds 10,000

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Image credit: Library Journal

In their fifth annual study of e-book usage in U.S. public libraries, Library Journal found that while e-book demand is still on the rise, there has been a significant waning in its intensity, based on the responses from the 538 libraries that participated in their survey. LJ suggests that a strong possibility for this apparent tapering off of enthusiasm is the fact that nearly all (95%) of public libraries now offer e-books, so their widespread adoption may mean that they have successfully integrated into mainstream reading practices. The rise of tablets seems to have helped, as tablets have edged out dedicated e-book readers as the most popular devices on which to access e-books.

The little resistance to e-books that does remain is due to a lack of funding for e-book collections and concern over the ease of use, according to LJ.   However, a limited collection is no longer a major factor inhibiting e-book usage. U.S. public libraries spent nearly $113 million on e-books in the 2014 fiscal year (on average 7% of each library’s budget), and the median size of e-book collections now exceeds 10,000. Respondents indicated that adult titles account for more than two-thirds of e-book collections, so there is still plenty of room to grow in children’s and young adult titles.

What is next for the future of e-book usage in U.S. public libraries, then? Based on survey responses, LJ predicts that e-books will continue to see increased demand and steady rather than drastic circulation growth. Small and medium sized libraries are still working to catch up to their larger counterparts in terms of e-book offerings, but e-reader lending remains the most popular among this population group. None of the numbers provided by the survey seemed to indicate that e-books were a threat to traditional print. Instead, LJ suggests that e-books are increasingly seen as a complement to other formats. In other words, they are simply becoming more firmly entrenched among the variety of formats that we may interact with on a day to day basis.

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.

ALA report on the impact of CIPA finds that software filtering negatively impacts disadvantaged students

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Banned Books Week and Banned Websites Awareness Day only come around once a year, but for students, learning is affected all year long by the content they are able or not able to access. A report by ALA, Fencing Out Knowledge: Impact of CIPA 10 Years Later, seeks to understand the long-term impact of the law requiring filtering software on school computers, and some of its unintended consequences as revealed through existing research and ALA’s own interviews and symposium.

The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was passed in 2000 with the intention of blocking obscene and pornographic images from school computers. So why does ALA consider it a problem? While there is good reason to prevent children from viewing certain content, ALA argues that much of this filtering is not very effective and needs to be revised.

In fact, software filters are reportedly so unreliable that they over-block useful content or under-block obscene content 15-20% of the time. But the main takeaway from ALA’s report is that CIPA disproportionately impacts already disadvantaged students, giving those who get unfiltered access at home an advantage over those who only have filtered access at school. In a Pew study of AP and National Writing Project teachers, nearly half (48%) of the respondents in urban areas and/or teaching low-income students responded that filtering had a major impact on the effectiveness of student learning. And while much of the filtered content (as shown in the above graph) appears to be entertainment, the fact is that for young people, online platforms such as games, videos, and social networks are a becoming a major component of learning and the establishment of early digital literacy.

ALA argues that school librarians have the ability to promote and teach the ethical and safe use of information technologies, and urges that schools should make better use of them to train teachers to assess the quality of online sources and to collect valuable resources for student use. CIPA is likely here to stay, but school librarians are well positioned to mitigate any negative effects it may have on student learning.

ALA also looked at the effects of CIPA on public libraries. Check out 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.

Public library websites and social media: What’s #trending now?

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We’re excited to have an article in the October 2014 issue of Computers in Libraries, Public Library Websites and Social Media: What’s #Trending Now?, that shares the results from our biennial study of public library website features and social media use. In this study, we analyze the websites of nearly 600 US public libraries to determine what website features and social media networks they are using to promote interactivity with patrons. The article focuses on our most recent (2012) findings, with a look back at our earlier studies to examine trends over time. In addition, it shares highlights from interviews we conducted with social media directors at several public libraries from our sample that we identified as highly active social media users based on their number of Facebook and/or Twitter followers relative to their populations served, as well as how frequent and recent their postings were. We talked with them about their social networking strategies, best practices, and lessons learned.

Want to know more? We’ve compiled all of our publications related to this study–infographics, Fast Facts, Closer Look reports, and more–on our U.S. Public Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies webpage.

1998: Average copyright date of technology books (600s section in Dewey Decimal System) in Colorado’s public school libraries

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These days, it is not uncommon for children to be adept at using the Internet, cellular phones, and/or digital cameras. They might be hard-pressed, however, to find literature in their school libraries that adequately discusses the modern-day use and significance of these technological advancements. Based on results from the 2013-14 Colorado School Library Survey, the average copyright for books that fall in the 600 range (technology) of the Dewey Decimal System in Colorado public school libraries is 1998—when the Internet was a relatively new concept in most households, cellular phones were a luxury item enjoyed by only a select few, and drug stores were still developing camera film for their customers on a regular basis.

Are you a school librarian who needs funding to update your collection? The Colorado State Library website contains information about a variety of grant opportunities, for example, State Grants to Libraries and the Funding Opportunities webpage.

 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.

96% of Colorado public libraries offer general computer skills training

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Image credit: Digital Inclusion Survey

Full results from the new Digital Inclusion Survey are now available! We shared some features of this public library study a couple of months ago, but since then the entire set of 2013 results have been added to the interactive tools, reports, and state details. Even better: A two-page talking points handout outlines key highlights from the study and offers easy advocacy messaging you can use right away.

The state details neatly organize results for each state and compare them to the national picture. For Colorado, here are a few areas where the state is ahead of the U.S.:

  • Mean number of public computers/laptops: 26.2 in Colorado, 19.8 nationwide
  • Mobile apps: 55% of Colorado public libraries, 43% nationally
  • Offer general computer skills training: 96% of Colorado libraries, 91% nationwide
  • Offer programs on applying for a job: 80% of Colorado libraries, 74% nationally
  • Offer programs on online business information resources: 66% of Colorado libraries, 56% nationally
  • Host creation events like maker spaces: 26% of Colorado libraries, 21% nationwide

You can find the entire Colorado breakdown here. And be sure to check out the executive summary and full report for an in-depth look at the national results, including locale breakdowns (rural, town, suburb, etc.) and emerging trends (maker events, 3D printers, etc.).

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. public libraries had 1.52 BILLION visits in FY 2011

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Image credit: IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) just released its Fiscal Year 2011 Public Libraries in the United States Report, an annual report that aggregates data from all U.S. public libraries to tease out national trends and state-by-state comparisons. For the first time, this analysis included looking at the relationship between public library investments—revenue, staffing, and resources—and usage—visitation, circulation, program attendance, and computer use. Long story short: “When investment increases, use increases, and when investment decreases, use decreases, and these relationships persist over time.”

Want more specifics? When book and e-book volumes, programs, public access computers, and staffing went up, so did physical visits. When libraries offered more public access Internet computers, computer use went up. When programming and staffing went up, so did program attendance. And when collections and programs increased, so did circulation.

With digital and e-offerings, the picture is a little less clear. Physical visits decreased when investments in e-materials increased, which may be expected if patrons can use more library resources without stepping in the building. However, the report points out an issue near and dear to our hearts here at LRS: We need new survey questions to truly understand what’s happening with e-resources and the delivery and services associated with them.

Take a look at the full report, available here. And for a closer look at Colorado and other states, check out the state profile page. You can also access and manipulate Colorado’s data via 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.

Colorado has 7 times as many libraries as Starbucks stores

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Colorado’s public, school, and academic libraries offer their users a blend of technology services, learning opportunities, community activities, and information literacy initiatives. But what do these services and resources actually look like? We’ve sorted through a variety of data—from annual surveys to national reports—to provide a fresh update to our popular Quotable Facts report. We’ve highlighted some of our favorite statistics that we think help convey the importance of libraries of all kinds to the entire state of Colorado.

Did you know Colorado has 7 times as many libraries as Starbucks stores? And those libraries have more than 66 million visits each year, or more than 5 times as many as our state parks. For those technology buffs, 94% of the state’s public libraries offer technology training on tools like photo editing software and social media. With devices becoming more and more common, public libraries are increasingly offering wireless access (see our recent Fast Facts, Computers in Colorado’s Public Libraries) and saw more than 5 million wireless access uses in 2012, or more than 13,000 uses each day. And Colorado’s school librarians are making sure students are well-versed in 21st-century skills: Nearly 75% teach students how to use digital resources at least once a week.

Check out our new Quotable Facts report here. Please share often! And, if you would like printed copies, please contact us.

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 Digital Inclusion Survey results coming soon

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Image credit: Information Policy & Access Center, University of Maryland

The first Digital Inclusion Survey—conducted by the ALA Office for Research & Statistics and the Information Policy & Access Center (iPAC) at the University of Maryland—captured public library services related to digital literacy, economic and workforce development, education, health information, and internet access. Its overall goal is to highlight the role public libraries play in building “digitally inclusive communities.” (If this sounds familiar, the Digital Inclusion Survey picked up the reins from the Public Library Funding & Technology Access Survey, or PLFTAS.)

The 2013 Digital Inclusion Survey closed late last year, and researchers hope to release their national data report during ALA’s Annual Conference in a few weeks. In the meantime, we are having a blast playing around with the national interactive map. It combines demographic, economic, and health data from the American Community Survey and select Digital Inclusion Survey results to illustrate what libraries offer their communities and general attributes of those communities as well. Even better: iPAC is adding features to allow users to print pieces of this excellent tool. And if you’re looking for more help to tell the story of your 21st-century library, check out the issue briefs and map visualizations.

We’re looking forward to seeing the final results from this new survey!

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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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