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2000

The Status of Library Media Center Support of Student Achievement

How School Librarians Help Kids Achieve Standards, a.k.a. the second Colorado Study, found that well-staffed, well-stocked, and well-funded library media (LM) programs are an essential component of successful schools. This issue of FAST FACTS examines the status of school library media services that support student achievement.

Highlights

  • Two out of 5 public schools have either no library media specialist or one less than half-time. That proportion is almost half for elementary schools.
  • The same proportions of all schools and elementary schools have less than one staff member dedicated to the LMC.
  • Since 1994, LMS staffing relative to enrollment has dropped more than 10 percent and total staffing more than 25 percent.
  • During the same interval, the size of LMC collections and annual spending on them has dropped by one-third. Relative to total per pupil spending, expenditures on LM collections have dropped by half.
  • While more and more information is available electronically, the limited number of networked computers in most schools does little to compensate for shrinking collections.

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Service to Seniors: Meeting the Needs of a Growing Segment

A recent PublishersWeekly.com feature states that one American turns 50 years old every 7 minutes. Although it is not news that a large segment of the population is “graying,” it may be surprising to learn how large the mature adult population in Colorado grew recently and is projected to grow in the next 5 years. People tend to think of Colorado as a “young” state. While it is true that Colorado ranks 47th in the country in its resident population older than 65, it will still soon see a major population shift. Since 1997, Colorado’s population older than 60 increased by 5 percent. In the next 5 years the over-60 group is projected to increase over 17 percent! See Table 1 in full report.

With the senior population comprising 13 percent of the total in Colorado, public libraries already notice an increase in services to this segment of the community. Results from a USA Today survey in 1999 showed that people older than 65 spend more time reading than any other age group—more than 1 hour and 15 minutes per day. Many seniors on fixed incomes rely on their public libraries to supply this reading material, often in large print editions.

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The State of Intellectual Freedom in Colorado Public Libraries and School Library Media Centers

Every year the Library Research Service surveys public libraries and school media centers in Colorado. These surveys include items concerning the number of challenges received and policies and practices related to Internet filtering. Such data have been collected from school library media centers for the last two years and from public libraries since 1994. Chart 1 (see full report) shows the history of Colorado public library challenges. The 1994-95 peak was largely attributable to the Madonna book, Sex.

Highlights

  • Public libraries saw the number of challenges almost double from 1996 to 1998.
  • A similar jump in school media center reconsiderations was observed from 1998 to 1999.
  • The majority of items challenged remained in collections with no change in status.

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Public Library Statistics: How Colorado Ranks

In 1997, Colorado ranked in the top half of the states on most public library statistics. Five of the top-ranked statistics clearly demonstrate how popular public libraries are with Coloradoans.

  • Colorado ranks in the top tier of statistics that demonstrate how much and how often residents use their libraries:
    • 7th in the number of visits per capita
    • 8th in the number of reference questions per capita
    • 11th in the circulation transactions per capita
  • Coloradoans back up their enthusiasm with local dollars, as shown by these national rankings:
    • 8th in local income per capita
    • 11th in operating expenditures per capita

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Trends in Library Paraprofessional Employment

The outlook for paraprofessionals in the library field is favorable in Colorado and most of the region. While employment opportunities are expected to grow faster than average for technical assistants and library assistants, wages remain low (see full report for occupation definitions).

In 1994, average wages for Colorado library technicians and assistants were $10.75 and $9.20 per hour, respectively. By 1998, a technical assistant in Colorado earned an average wage of $11.24 for an increase of only 4.6 percent in a four-year period. A library assistant’s mean wage in 1998 was $8.71 for a LOSS of 5.3 percent! The average annual wage for technical and library assistants in 1998 was $23,390 and $18,110, respectively.

Highlights

  • While wages remain low, the average paraprofessional in Colorado earns more than staff in the surrounding states.
  • Demand for technical assistants is high in Colorado.
  • A significant undersupply of library assistants is estimated to occur through 2006.

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POPULAR RESOURCES

  • Public Library Statistics & Profiles
    Dive into annual statistics from the Colorado Public Library Annual Report using our interactive tool, results tailored to trustees, and state totals and averages.
  • School Library Impact Studies
    School libraries have a profound impact on student achievement. Explore studies about this topic by LRS and other researchers in our comprehensive guide.
  • Fast Fact Reports
    Looking for a quick rundown of library research? Check out our Fast Facts, which highlight research and statistics about various library topics.

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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.

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

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