Archive for the Technology Category

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

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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.

Public libraries are making great strides in digital inclusion, with nearly all offering technology training, among other services

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In recent years, librarians and communities have been successfully transforming the image and roles of their local libraries. No longer just an outlet for books, over two-thirds of Americans see libraries as important for the ways in which they improve community life, serve as advocates for literacy and reading, and provide avenues for individual success.

According to ALA’s 2015 State of America’s Libraries Report, one significant way that public libraries are achieving these goals is through technology and digital resource access. In striving for a digitally inclusive society, public libraries have made great strides in ensuring that digital content and literacy instruction is within the reach of everyone. For example, almost all U.S. public libraries offer all of the following services: free wireless internet access (97%), technology training (98%), education and learning programs (99%), and summer reading programs (98%). In addition to this, four-fifths (80%) offer programs that improve job application and interviewing skills, and three-fourths also provide community, civic engagement, or e-government programs.

Public libraries are deploying their services to prepare for the digital present and future, and to ensure the success of the people in their communities in all aspects of their life. While digital literacy initiatives are increasingly important, however, just a little more than a third (38%) of state libraries indicated specific goals related to these initiatives. Moving forward, it is important that all public libraries clearly give voice to how their services contribute to and enhance the goals of digital inclusion and information literacy.

Read the full report here to find out more about current issues and trends in public, school, and academic 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.

Half of public library respondents report internet connectivity speeds of more than 10 Mbps

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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.

Pew study shows almost a quarter of adults change their technology behaviors because of surveillance programs

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Image credit: Pew Research

 

In December, we posted about a Pew Research Center study that found that the more Americans know about government surveillance programs, the more they are concerned about their own data security. In a follow-up report, Pew asked the 475 adults (87%) who had heard at least a little about the programs how this knowledge has changed their technology behaviors.

They found that at least some, but not an overwhelming amount, are altering their strategies when it comes to information and communication technologies. Almost one-fifth (18%) changed how they use their email accounts, which was the most common behavioral modification asked about. Other common ways of responding to insecurities about data included changing how they use search engines, social media, cell phones, and mobile apps.

Overall, close to a quarter (22%) of those surveyed has changed their technology behaviors at least somewhat. Most changes were relatively simple, such as creating a more complex password and reworking privacy settings. But Pew’s findings indicate that not all of those aware of surveillance programs actually know how to protect their own information, since over half (54%) think it would be at least “somewhat difficult” to utilize tools and strategies for data security.

The survey also reveals that American adults are worried not only about government surveillance but also about criminals and systematic hacking threats. In our information driven culture, knowledge about how to properly protect our personal data becomes more important every day.

Find out more about this report and others in the series 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!

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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!

One-third of African Americans and Latinos have used Wi-Fi access at public libraries

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Image credit: WifiForward

Public, free Wi-Fi access has exploded in recent years – essentially all public libraries now offer it – but only now are we beginning to get a fuller picture of how essential these services are to many communities.

ALA’s District Dispatch recently reported on a survey conducted by WifiForward about Americans’ usage of and attitudes toward public Wi-Fi networks. A majority of Americans have used a public access Wi-Fi network, often in a public library, and also feel that Wi-Fi networks have a positive impact on themselves and the community.

For African American and Latino populations, public Wi-Fi is particularly important, and one third of each of these communities has used the Internet via a public library Wi-Fi network. African Americans and Latinos who do use Wi-Fi also experience more positive impacts of the Internet. Among these communities, well over half indicate that access to the Internet helps them with education, saving time, job searches, and creative activities.

The fact that essentially all public libraries now offer Wi-Fi is clearly a victory, yet there are still many ways in which libraries and other public Wi-Fi providers can improve service and ensure the security of users. In fact, a large majority of all community groups surveyed (86% of whites, 85% of African Americans, and 84% of Latinos) think providers should focus more on the security of users’ information.

So far, this survey is one of the most thorough looks at how access to Wi-Fi networks influences the attitudes and behavior of different communities. You can delve into 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.

Student Monitor survey finds that 64% of college students are satisfied with their campus libraries

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Survey results from a in a semiannual study conducted by market-research firm Student Monitor show nearly two-thirds of 1,200 college students surveyed were satisfied with their libraries on campus, with more than a third (35%) saying they were “very satisfied.” Upperclassmen, females, and students who lived on campus reported higher satisfaction levels than their younger, male, and off-campus colleagues.

Almost all (92%) of this group of college students also said they prefer doing research in digital format, but a solid chunk (about 40% depending on the activity) still prefer print when reading, studying, or taking notes for class. About a quarter (26%) said they’ve purchased an e-textbook, and just 10% ever used an e-textbook in high school. Just over 1 in 4 (26%) used Twitter while a whopping 90% used Facebook and 64% used Instagram.

The researchers asked students to rate their experiences with various aspects of college life, including the computer lab, bookstore, dining services, housing, financial aid, and more. As part of a semiannual study, the results also show ratings over time, from fall to spring semester. According to a managing partner from Student Monitor, libraries consistently rise to the top of the value ratings while housing, textbook costs, and campus dining tend to fall to the bottom.

Read more about this study via Library Journal and The Chronicle of Higher Education. For more context, check out our previous coverage of Pew’s research on young Americans’ perceptions of public 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.

EasyBib reports that 12% of K-12 schools have no information literacy instruction

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Image credit: EasyBib

In a follow up to data collected in 2012, EasyBib completed a survey this year of 1,182 school and academic librarians, and 10,471 students, in order to determine how libraries are evaluating and responding to the need for information literacy instruction in schools and in higher education. The report shows there is a wide gap between K-12 schools and academic institutions in both perception of research ability and instruction offered.

Although school libraries are integral to building an early foundation for information literacy, the data indicates that many students are not receiving dedicated or sustained instruction on how to evaluate information across media platforms until they go to college. Though all higher education institutions had at least some information literacy training, 12% of K-12 schools reported having no research instruction whatsoever. If we look just at high school libraries, the number reporting that they have no instruction of research skills jumps up to over a quarter (26%) of that group.

On top of that, half of high school librarians surveyed responded that students’ understanding of website evaluation was merely “basic,” despite the fact that 60% of all librarian respondents said that students prefer Open Web resources and use them “very often.”

It’s easy to recognize that information literacy instruction is likely getting shortchanged at school libraries due to budget and time restraints. However, because all librarians know the importance of information literacy, and know that its value is likely to increase in the future, EasyBib suggests that many school librarians will need to get creative in their approaches to research instruction. Such strategies might include online video tutorials, creating better awareness of subscription databases, and fostering better channels of communication with teachers and administrators. A combination of these and other methods could make a big difference in ensuring the future success of today’s students.

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 Pew survey, three-fourths of Internet users see abundance of information as a benefit, not a burden

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Image credit: Pew Internet

In today’s diverse information culture, libraries play an important role in promoting the many ways that communities stay informed about the world around them. As digital technologies and media become more and more ingrained in everyday life, Americans are increasingly recognizing their value as an educational and creative outlet.

Results out from a new Pew survey indicate that Internet users feel digital technology has had an overall positive impact on their ability to learn and share ideas. This survey is part of a series by Pew to evaluate the impact of the Internet 25 years after its conception. The new study elaborates on a survey done earlier this year by offering new insight into Americans’ attitudes about the ways these media can keep them informed and connected to their communities.

The survey of 1,066 adult Americans found that an overwhelming majority thought the Internet has improved their ability to learn and stay informed (87%), and saw the abundance of information online as a boon rather than a burdensome overload (72%).

In addition, not only are Americans confident in how digital and mobile technologies have improved their own ability to learn new things, three-fourths also believe that access to the Internet has made “average Americans” and “today’s students” better informed (76% and 77%, respectively). Since 2006 and 2007, the number of Americans surveyed who said that the Internet has positively impacted their capacity to create and share ideas with others have steadily increased.

As the Internet and other digital media continue to permeate our lives and the ways we relate to those around us, librarians in the U.S. are well positioned to compliment the optimism of users through information literacy education and improved ways for users to access, create, and share knowledge.

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.

56% of online seniors (65+) use Facebook

Pew_Social Media 2014

Image credit: Pew Internet

Libraries have fully embraced social media as a way of reaching and engaging with patrons in new ways. But social media is no different than any other technology: Trends and usage ebbs and flows as new groups discover existing tools and new tools become popular. One resource for navigating the changing social media landscape is Pew Research Internet Project, which recently released updates to its research based on a survey of U.S. adults who use the internet conducted in September 2014.

Facebook is still king, with 71% of online adults using the site, but this hasn’t changed since 2013. And those who are on Facebook continued to use it often, with 7 in 10 using the site daily and 45% using it several times a day. Another first for Facebook: In the 2014 survey, more than half (56%) of internet users older than 65 were on Facebook (31% of all adults 65 and older).

Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn all saw significant growth since 2013, with usage rates of 23% to 28% of online adults. And more than half (52%) of online adults used two or more sites (up from 42% in 2013). Instagram boosted its usage particularly among young adults (ages 18-29), of whom 53% used the site. While female users continue to dominate Pinterest, 13% of online males also used the site in 2014, compared to just 8% in 2013.

Learn more about the changing demographics of social media users and get updated frequency usage stats with the full report. We’re busy digging into analysis of our own research on how public libraries are using social media as part of our biennial study. Keep an eye out for 2014 results from this study later this year. In the meantime, check out our 2012 results for Colorado and the United States overall.

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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