Archive for the Technology Category

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

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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.

 

Just 20% of teens are purchasing e-books, according to Nielsen study

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Last month, we reported on Library Journal’s and School Library Journal’s survey of public and school libraries, which indicated that e-book acquisition continues to rise steadily in both settings. However, demand for e-books was found to be lackluster in public libraries and downright disappointing in school libraries. Nielsen recently conducted a study that sheds some more light on e-book usage, specifically among teens. Although teens today are more technologically adept that ever before, 13-17 year olds are slightly more likely to be reading print than adult age groups.

For the study, Nielsen combined data from two separate online surveys that together represent 9,000 book buyers from across the U.S. The study found that despite teens’ openness to new technologies and e-books in particular, just 20% of teens are actually buying their reading material in this format, compared to 23% of 18-29 year-olds, and 25% of 30-44 year olds. Economic and parental restraints are cited as possible causes, in addition to the fact that libraries and bookstores are still the primary outlet for obtaining books for more than half of teens.

Though the study does come with the caveat that it appears teens today are reading less for pleasure than previous generations of young people, selection of materials among teens who read remains a very social process that is aided by newer technologies and social media. For example, nearly half (45%) of teens are at least moderately swayed by how books are portrayed on sites like Facebook and Twitter. And the rampant success of many YA series could be partially explained by the finding that three-fourths (76%) of teens cite the author’s previous works as an influence on future selections. With 80% of YA readers over the age of 18, however, both public and school libraries should be concerned with how to capture young readers in all of today’s available formats.

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 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

Digital Inclusion

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.

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