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2006

Early Literacy Initiative Impacts Public Library Services for Young Children

Since early 2004, the Colorado State Library (CSL) has been encouraging and supporting public library efforts to teach pre-reading activities and skills to young children, their parents, and childcare providers. Through its multifaceted early literacy initiative, CSL:

  • Provides resource materials about reading readiness for parents and caregivers
  • Encourages outreach and visibility through partnerships with community, education, and business organizations
  • Assists libraries that wish to train staff, volunteers, and parents and further develop their early literacy services
  • Trains librarians to teach and model skill-building techniques.

Integral to this mission, in November 2004 and February 2005, CSL conducted a series of seven training workshops around the state. Based on the Public Library Association’s program, Every Child Ready to Read @ your library (http://www.ala.org/ala/pla/plaissues/earlylit/earlyliteracy.htm), each workshop provided attendees with early literacy research materials and hands-on skill building techniques. Approximately 125 individuals—librarians, child care providers, and others—participated in these workshops.

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Remote and On-Site Use of Colorado Academic Libraries

As computers and digital technologies continue to play a greater role in the lives of college students and faculty, the ways in which these two groups utilize their academic libraries will certainly continue to change. In order to provide insight into the nature of academic library usage, the 2005 Colorado Academic Library Impact Study asked undergraduate students and faculty from 9 Colorado colleges and universities about their experiences and attitudes relating to their institutions’ libraries. Students and faculty members were asked to estimate what proportion of their time using library resources was spent at their college or university libraries, and what proportion was spent accessing library resources remotely from other locations.

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The Average Copyright of Colorado School Library Books is (Still) 15 Years Old

In 2001, the average copyright of a book collection in Colorado school libraries was 1986—over 15 years old. Although the average copyright has increased to 1991, the age of Colorado school library collections has not. In schools, access to information is essential, but the information students are retrieving is often older than they are.

Consider some of the major events that have occurred since 1991:

  • Bill Clinton is elected as the 42nd president (1992).
  • The World Trade Center is bombed the first time (1993).
  • Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president (1994).
  • The Oklahoma City bombing occurs at the Alfred P. Murrah federal building (1995).
  • The first version of Java programming language is released (1996).
  • Dolly the sheep is the first mammal to be successfully cloned (1997).
  • Google is founded (1998).
  • The Columbine High School shooting occurs Littleton, Colorado (1999).

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Home-Based Education and Colorado Public Libraries

Home-based education is defined as an education program whose instruction takes place at home, is implemented by “the child’s parent or by an adult relative of the child designated by the parent” and is not managed by a school district. The homeschool population is small within Colorado and across the nation, however, as Colorado’s home-based education numbers decrease, the nation’s numbers are rising.

According to the Colorado Department of Education, in Fall 2003, 8,591 children were educated at home in Colorado and those numbers dropped by 18% to 7,081 in 2004. Between 2000 and 2004 there has been a steady decrease in reported homeschooled students—the only exception being 2001, in which there was a 3.2% increase. Conversely, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports in Homeschooling in the United States: 2003 that “the percentage of the entire student population who were being homeschooled increased from 1.7 percent in 1999 to 2.2 percent in 2003.”

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How Librarians Help College Students at Colorado Correctional Facilities

In fall 2005, students taking college-level classes in 10 Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities participated in a study to examine the impact of correctional libraries on students’ academic pursuits, with emphasis on the impact of skills taught by librarians. Earlier the same year, about 3,000 undergraduate students from nine Colorado colleges and universities answered similar questions.

When comparing the answers of DOC students with these students, some notable differences are apparent.

In both correctional and academic library settings, majorities of respondents were helped by librarians to find resources. This highlights the crucial role the librarian plays in formal education and information access. Fifty-seven percent of respondents in correctional settings reported receiving this service, indicating the importance of the librarian particularly in extremely restricted environments.

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Colorado Public Library Performance Rankings

The mission of a public library is to provide the best service possible to its community. Output measures—which are often per capita statistics—give an individual’s perspective on the services libraries provide. The 6 output measures used here as performance measures are (in no particular order):

  • Registration as Percentage of Population
  • Library Visits per Capita
  • Reference Questions per Capita
  • Program Attendance per 1,000 Served
  • Circulation per Capita
  • Circulation Turnover Rate

Looking at 2004 data on these 6 measures for 5 population categories statewide, many public libraries stand out. Twelve of 114 public libraries came to the forefront, one by ranking in the top 3 in its population group on every measure and the other by ranking in the top 3 on 3 or more measures.

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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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