Archive for the The Weekly Number Category

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.

Congratulations to the 10 Colorado Star Libraries!

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Image credit: Library Journal

Congratulations to the 10 Colorado libraries that were named Star Libraries by the 2014 Library Journal Index of Public Library Service! Out of all the states included in the report, Colorado was one of only 9 where 10 or more libraries were named Star Libraries. The 10 star libraries are:

  • Arapahoe
  • Denver
  • Douglas County
  • La Junta
  • LaVeta
  • Limon
  • Ordway
  • Ridgway
  • San Miguel/Telluride
  • Swink

Star Libraries are determined based on output data, which is one of three major types of data that libraries can collect (the other types are inputs and outcomes). Output measures used to calculate the Star Libraries Index are circulation, visits, program attendance, and internet use. These measurements are valuable in determining the volume of various services that a library produces. It is possible that new outputs will be included in the Star Libraries index soon: In 2015, public libraries will begin reporting e-circulation as part of the annual Public Library Survey, and in 2016, data about Wi-Fi access usage.

While output data is required for libraries to collect and provides worthwhile information about how much of a variety of services is being provided, an entirely different, voluntary type of data called outcomes is essential in gaining a better picture of the long-range effectiveness of public library services. Outcome data, as opposed to output data, measures the impact of changes experienced by users as a result of library services, rather than just the sheer number of services produced by the library. Outcomes measure impacts such as knowledge gained or developments in overall attitude, status, or condition. While outcomes can be difficult to quantify because the data largely relies on self-reported surveys from library patrons, outcomes are important because they help to more accurately gauge the library’s economic, social, and cultural import to individuals and the community as a whole. Want to know more about outcomes? This year’s Star Libraries article contains a nice overview on outcomes and how they differ from outputs.

If you want to learn more about how to design compelling evaluations that can demonstrate the value of your library in the community, consider attending the Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) on July 27-30, 2015 in Colorado Springs to learn how effective input, output, and outcome data can do just that.

If you work in a Colorado public library or are a Colorado-based MLIS student interested in working in a public library, the Colorado State Library is offering up to 15 full scholarships to RIPL! Find more information and apply here. Hurry! Scholarship applications are due by 5 PM on Friday, November 14, 2014. Otherwise, enrollment opens on January 5, 2015.

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.

LIS starting salaries are up almost 3% for new graduates according to Library Journal survey

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Image credit: Library Journal

As part of our periodic look at Library Journal’s Placements &Salaries Survey, we found good news rolling out overall for 2013 graduates. The 2014 survey looked at just over 2,000 of last year’s LIS graduates in order to assess changes in job description, salary, and geographic distribution across the profession. The general trend appears to be for positive growth – average starting salaries are up 2.6% across the board compared to 2013, and average starting salaries have risen above $45,000. The graduates also reported a slightly shorter job search, at an average of 4.2 months.

One component driving this improvement was an expansion of responsibilities across the digital sector of the field. Librarians are increasingly taking on responsibilities such as managing social media, digital asset/content, and digital projects. Out of all of the positions reported, those whose applicants garnered the highest starting salaries were data analytics, emerging technologies, knowledge management, and user experience/user interface design, all positions that offered an average starting salary over $55,000. Graduates entering into user experience/ user interface design positions started with salaries a staggering 53% higher than the average LIS graduate, at $70,026.

But here is the catch. Many of these digital positions still only account for a small portion of the total positions being filled by new graduates. For example, digital content management jobs were only a fraction (3%) of the total placements, and while they had a significant concentration in Western states and salaries were slightly higher than average, the overall starting salary for this position actually decreased somewhat from 2013 (by 5%). So what does all of this mean? Positions with substantial digital components are becoming more common, especially in private industry, archives, and public libraries, but this growth is not necessarily consistent across library type and geographical area. In the coming years, we will certainly have to keep an eye on this trend towards the digital LIS professional, as well as how positions and wages compare to those across the field.

Want to see how your library position or region is faring? You can access the full data from the survey 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.

Survey of US public librarians finds that almost half think there is an increased demand for language learning materials

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Image credit: Library Journal

We have all likely felt the pressure, at one time or another, to grow more competent in a foreign language. Now, public librarians across the country are feeling the pressure to provide more diverse and accessible language learning products and services. Library Journal recently conducted a survey of public librarians from 337 libraries across the United States on language learning programs. Not surprisingly, the consensus across the board is that demand for language learning services has at least remained steady (47%), and has likely risen (47%), in recent years.

So what is prompting patrons to seek out language instruction? While travel still hangs on as the biggest reason for a patron to pursue foreign language learning, over half of the librarians surveyed responded that communicating with neighbors and community members (58% of librarians), and furthering business prospects (54% of librarians), were primary reasons. In an increasingly diversifying country, there is a heightened perception that learning a second language is no longer a luxury. Spanish and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) are the most frequently demanded languages, yet only 61% of librarians thought their ESOL programs were satisfactory.

Additionally, patrons want more than ever to be able to do their language lessons on the move. Almost all of the librarians surveyed (90%) noted ease of access as the most important characteristic of language resources, and mobile apps are on the rise. The downside of this trend is that many of the librarians surveyed expressed frustration at the limited means to promote online language software. Patrons are often unaware of services beyond books or audio.

It appears that for the foreseeable future, all kinds of language learning resources but especially online and mobile platforms will see steady if not escalating demand, and librarians will have to determine how to best inform and educate patrons about available resources.

The article by Library Journal also provides a list of offerings for libraries interested in bringing language learning software into their library.

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.

State grants doubled the collection budgets of 41 library recipients in 2013-14

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We recently told you about the State Grants to Libraries Act (CRS 24-90-401) that offered $2 million to Colorado’s libraries and how many libraries were able to purchase materials thanks to the funds. We’ve now received preliminary data for the 2013-14 grant cycle highlighting just how those grants were used, and the impact is clear: State funding played a major role in building collections for libraries across the state.

More than 9 in 10 library recipients used the funds to purchase print books, totaling nearly 140,000 books added to library collections. Nearly 40% of recipients bought about 10,000 e-books. And more than half of library grant recipients purchased access to electronic databases for their patrons.

And it’s not just about the data: Libraries shared great stories showcasing the impact the state funding has had on their library and patrons. Here are a couple of our favorites:

  • It was a new book extravaganza! We were able to weed many aged and ragamuffin books. We refreshed our collection and it reignited our love for reading!
  • We are a 1:1 technology district, and this allowed us to expand our digital resources. It is helping us transform the way students think and learn.
  • We saw circulation rise by 13-29% at two branches because we can offer more targeted resources customers want and need.

Want to see more highlights and quotes from the 2013-14 grant cycle? Check out our new Fast Facts.

Final numbers for the 2013-14 grants will be available later this fall. And the cycle for 2014-15 is well underway with the $2 million appropriation renewed by the 2014 Colorado Legislature and funds scheduled for disbursement this fall. We’re looking forward to seeing how libraries use this year’s awards!

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.

Job posts on Library Jobline were viewed more than 423,000 times in 2013

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In our yearly tradition, our newest Fast Facts reviews the past year of Library Jobline, our popular library jobs posting website. We investigate the kinds of jobs that are posted, what skills are required, and how 2013 was in the larger trends of the library job market. Here’s what we found:

In 2013, 431 jobs were posted on Library Jobline. That’s up almost 90% from 2009, the bottom of the job posting curve thanks to the latest recession. But we’ve not yet recovered completely: 523 jobs were posted in 2007, the first year of the service.

Average starting wages for postings not requiring an MLIS/MLS degree have increased more than 20% since 2007, more than starting wages for postings preferring (up 16%) or requiring (up just 4%) the degree. In fact, the average starting wage for positions requiring an MLIS in 2013 was $22.25 while postings preferring the degree had an average starting wage of $22.08—a difference of just 17 cents an hour.

Another interesting trend is how MLIS degree requirements have shifted since 2007. While other skills requirements, such as library experience or language skills, haven’t shifted much since the service began—within 5 percentage points—the degree requirements have changed quite a bit. In 2007, 35% of job posts that indicated a preference said the MLIS degree was required. In 2013, that figure fell to 18%. This hasn’t been mirrored by the percentage of posts that prefer the degree: In 2007, 12% preferred a library degree; in 2013, 15% did.

Learn more about Library Jobline and last year’s job postings through our new Fast Facts, available here. In the job market yourself? Sign up as a job seeker for to receive personalized job announcements. Responsible for hiring at your library? Join the nearly 750 employers and post jobs that are consistently viewed more than 1,000 times. And get even more job announcements, tips, and strategies by following @libraryjobline.

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.

62% of Millennials agree there is a lot of important, useful information not available online

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Image credit: Pew Internet Project

The Pew Research Internet & American Life Project continues its deep dive into public libraries, and recently released a comprehensive study of young Americans younger than 30 (i.e., Millennials) that examines their attitudes toward and engagement with public libraries. Fittingly for Millennials, the findings were pretty complex. Pew indicated that there are significant differences in the use and perception of public libraries among those aged 16-29, so much so that they distinguished three separate “generations” among this group.

Among the 6,224 Americans aged 16 + that Pew surveyed, one commonality among Millennials they did find was that reading is still a very important activity among the younger generation, and they remain active users of their local public libraries. In fact, Millennials are more likely to have read a book in the past year than their older counterparts (88% compared to 79%), and more likely than those older than 30 to agree that there is useful, important information not available on the internet (62% compared to 53%).

These findings all seem promising, but there are a couple of clear ways that Millennials diverge significantly from the older population. Although library use appears to be steady for the younger generation, the nature of that engagement might be shifting. While the percentage of 16-29-year-olds who visited a public library in person dropped from 2012 to 2013 (from 58% to 50%), the percentage of that same population who visited a library’s website increased by almost the same amount (from 28% to 36%). Also, while the youngest group of Millennials (ages 16-17) were the most likely to use the library on a regular basis, they were also the most likely to say that libraries were not very important to themselves, their family, or their community.

So even as libraries remain important centers for information and learning among the young, how that information is accessed and perceived seems to be in a state of transition.

You can find the full Pew 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.

160 billion words read in one year via Scribd’s ebook subscription service

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Image credit: Scribd

The book subscription service Scribd recently released some brief stats about its service usage as it nears its one year anniversary. While the results are limited to Scribd’s service alone, it captures a snapshot of reading behavior and choices of its readers over the past year. Romance, Mind, Body, & Spirit, and Business were the top book genres begun by readers; the top finished genres were Romance, Fiction, and Kids & YA. The top book was Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, and the most highlighted sentence was from that work as well.

For us, the most interesting aspect of this report is the infographic. It’s a nice example of using data effectively to talk about usage and services—and even staffing—without simply rattling off large numbers. For example, all the books in Scribd’s Library stacked up would surpass the top of Mt. Everest—a bit more powerful way to talk about a collection than quoting an overall number of books. This basic idea is behind our own Quotable Facts: making data and numbers more approachable for anyone.

Looking to use numbers to tell an impactful story about your library? Want to turn your annual report into an effective marketing tool? Join us at our CAL session next month, If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It! Tell Your Library’s Story with a Data-Based Elevator Speech, on Friday, October 17 from 3-4:45pm. At this interactive and discussion-rich session, you’ll get the inside scoop on how to talk up your library’s numbers to potential stakeholders, use stats and stories to show value, and develop a powerful elevator speech.

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’s public libraries report 29 challenges in 2013

2013 PLAR challenges

Each year, LRS reviews the Public Library Annual Report for information specifically about challenges: How many items were challenged, reasons for the challenges, and what happened as a result of the challenges. In our newest Fast Facts, we take a deeper look into the results as a snapshot of intellectual freedom issues in Colorado for 2013.

What’s the verdict? After a peak of 87 in 2004, overall numbers of challenges have gradually decreased, reaching a 10-year low of just 29 challenges in 2013. As for the challenges themselves, most attributes have held fairly steady over time. For the past 5 years, the most common action taken after a challenge is filed is no action at all—items aren’t moved or reclassified, simply left as is—presumably after library staff provide additional information on collection development policies. Top reasons for challenges have typically included “sexually explicit,” “unsuited to age group,” and “violence.” Books continue to be the most common format of challenged items, while video has consistently held second place for the past 5 years.

However, one shift in the nature of public library challenges is the intended audience of the challenged materials—adults, young adults, or children. Adults have consistently held the No. 1 spot as the intended audience for challenged materials, but No. 2 has gradually shifted from children to young adult. In fact, in 2013 young adults were the intended audience of 29% of challenges with a specified audience—up nearly 180% from 2012.

Check out other trends from 2013’s public library trends in the full Fast Facts report. Did your library have any challenges last year?

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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