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2012 U.S. Academic Librarian Salaries: The West & Southwest Region Remains Competitive

As the country slowly recovers from the latest economic recession, librarians and future librarians are looking to salary comparisons to better understand their current and potential earnings. The ALA-APA Salary Survey provides this information annually for positions requiring an ALA-accredited master’s degree. Here, we take a look at some of the highlights from this survey:

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For more information, see our Fast Facts, “2012 U.S. Academic Librarian Salaries: The West & Southwest Region Remains Competitive.”

All data reported here are from the 2012 ALA-APA Salary Survey: Librarian—Public and Academic report from the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association.
The West/Southwest region includes the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
*Insufficient data for this category.

Pleased Patrons: CTBL Maintains Excellent Service Record

In 2012, the Library Research Service (LRS) adminstered a patron satisfaction and outcome survey for the Colorado Talking Book Library (CTBL). This was the fifth time that this survey has been administered since 2004. The survey was designed to assist CTBL in its ongoing efforts to evaluate its services, and the results indicate that an overwhelming majority of patrons are very pleased with the services CTBL provides. Nearly all respondents (99%) rated their overall satisfaction with CTBL as excellent or good, which is consistent with prior years (see Chart 1).

About CTBL
The Colorado Talking Book Library (CTBL) provides free library services to more than 6,000 patrons who, because of physical, visual, or learning disabilities, are unable to read standard print material.CTBL’s collection consists of 58,000 talking books, 7,000 digital titles, 6,000 titles in Braille, 19,000 titles in large print, and about 300 descriptive videos.CTBL is part of the Colorado State Library, a division of the Colorado Department of Education, and is affiliated with the Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS).

318_Chart 1

Features of CTBL Service
In addition to rating their overall satisfaction with CTBL, respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction with selected components of CTBL’s services. Three of these components were rated as excellent or good by at least 98 percent of the respondents: “courtesy of library staff,” “completeness and condition of books received,” and “speed with which they receive books” (see Chart 2).

Although still at very high levels, the 2 lowest rated components of service were “the Colorado Talking Book Library newsletter” (81% excellent or good ratings) and “the book titles we select for you” (65% excellent or good ratings).

CTBL Services

  • Books may be ordered via mail, email, phone, fax, or online.
  • The library loans playback machines free of charge to patrons.
  • Patrons can request specific titles or books can be selected for them based on their reading interests.
318_Chart 2

Outcomes of CTBL Use
Over the years, reading for pleasure continues to be the most frequently valued outcome of CTBL service, selected by more than 4 out of 5 (85%) respondents in 2012 (see Chart 3). Several survey respondents’ comments reflected this as they frequently mentioned how CTBL’s services allowed them to continue enjoying reading despite challenges reading standard print books. The second most popular outcome, chosen by a bit more than one-third of respondents (38%), was “learned more about a personal interest using CTBL services.” Respondents were able to include additional information via an “Other” option, which 15 percent of respondents selected. Remarks included appreciation for materials delivery, book club availability, and services to dyslexic and low vision children and students.

“You provide my sanity and my constant companion-recorded books. I read while doing everything around the house. I cannot imagine my life without CTBL! I really appreciate the great suggestions I get from reader advisors and the great service from everyone else on the staff.”
318_Chart 3

Patron Satisfaction Consistent Over the Years
Overall, the satisfaction level of CTBL patrons has held fairly steady over the years (see Chart 4). The percentage of patrons who have rated CTBL services as “excellent” has fluctuated somewhat between a high of 85 percent in 2006 and just below 80 percent in 2004, 2008, and 2012. There has been a similar fluctuation of about 5 percent in “good” ratings over the 5 surveys. At no time have more than 2 percent of patrons rated overall satisfaction with CTBL as “fair” or “poor.”

“Giving up reading is very difficult. Your service gives my love of reading a new life!”
318_Chart 4

Conclusion
The majority of CTBL patrons responding to the survey indicated that they are very satisfied with the services provided. Nearly all respondents gave high ratings for their overall satisfaction with CTBL and individual service components. In addition to the high ratings, comments left by survey respondents provide insight into the important services CTBL provides to its patrons. Thanks to CTBL, its patrons are able to read for pleasure, learn about personal interests, and stay connected to their communities.

“I have had this service since 2000 because of so many eye surgeries. I don’t know what I’d do without my talking books.”

More Opportunities, Lower Pay: 2012 Insights From Library Jobline

Introduction
An examination of data from Library Jobline, a job-posting website operated by the Library Research Service, provides insight into Colorado’s library job climate. The data from 2012 shows that, for the third year in a row, the number of employment opportunities in the field has increased, but the level of compensation for professional-level library positions1 has decreased slightly since 2011.

Job Postings
In 2012, 393 library positions were posted to Library Jobline, thus continuing the upward trend since 2009, when the number was just 228 (Chart 1).2 On average, 33 library positions were posted to Library Jobline each month during 2012. Compared with other months, June saw the most postings (49), whereas April saw the fewest (25).

317_Chart 1Subscriptions
Library Jobline’s website redesign in early 2012 may have contributed to the influx in its subscriptions. An additional 97 employers registered with Library Jobline in 2012—an increase of 19 percent over the previous year—which brought the total number of registered employers to 602. The number of registered job seekers rose by 44 percent, or 729 members, which propelled Library Jobline’s total number of registered job seekers to almost 2,400.

Views
Despite sizeable increases in the number of job postings and the number of registered job seekers, LibraryJobline.org experienced less traffic in 2012 than in the previous two years. In 2012, Library Jobline postings were viewed 521,655 times—down more than 100,000 views from 2011, and more than 200,000 views from 2010. Curiously, more than one-third (37%) of the 2012 views were of jobs that were posted prior to 2012.

The diminished traffic might be partially attributed to job seekers’ reliance on alternative notification channels. By the end of 2012, Library Jobline (@libraryjobline) had accrued 345 Twitter followers (up from 202 at the end of 2011), and tweeted 616 times—159 times more than in 2011. Additionally, Library Jobline generated 272,243 email notifications in 2012, and individual RSS feeds were accessed 64,737 times.3

Requirements and Preferences
About one-fifth (21%) of the Library Jobline postings for 2012 specified that a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree was required—a decrease from 2011, when one-third (33%) required one (Table 1). An additional 15 percent of job postings in 2012 specified a preference for candidates with an MLIS degree, compared with 13 percent in 2011. The remaining 64 percent either specified that an MLIS degree was not required, or simply included no information about it. The percentage of job postings that listed additional requirements and/or preferences changed little from 2011.

317_Table 1

Starting Wages
Compared to 2011, the average starting hourly wage decreased by $0.34 per hour for Library Jobline postings that specified the requirement of an MLIS/MLS degree, and $0.67 per hour for those that listed it as a preference (Chart 2). Conversely, the average starting hourly wage for postings that did not require an MLIS/MLS degree increased by $0.66 per hour. Although this may be unsettling for those who choose to pursue MLIS/MLS degrees, it is too soon to determine whether the decline in compensation for professional-level library jobs since 2011 is a trend.

317_Chart 2

Conclusion
Library Jobline’s 2012 data offers mixed messages about Colorado’s library job climate. The number of employment opportunities listed with Library Jobline has steadily increased since 2009, and offers hope that it might soon reach pre-recession levels. Unfortunately, average starting hourly wages for library positions posted with Library Jobline do not demonstrate the same upward trend.

Indeed, 5 years of data suggest that starting wages are stagnant overall. Job seekers can likely expect more opportunities for Colorado library employment in the coming years; however, they should not count on higher levels of compensation.

Early Literacy Information on Colorado Public Library Websites

Public libraries have the opportunity to play a central role in educating parents on the benefits of developing children’s early literacy skills.4 With more people accessing information through public library websites, a study was conducted in Spring 2012 to determine the availability of early literacy information on the websites of Colorado’s public libraries.5

Early literacy is “what children know about reading and writing before they actually read and write.”6

Because libraries use literacy-based storytimes to engage both parents and children, and because reading aloud is an essential building block for developing early literacy skills, this study investigated what types of information about early literacy, storytimes, and reading aloud were available on Colorado public library websites.7

This Fast Facts reports highlights from the study, which found that most websites broadly referenced early literacy information and contained storytime information. However, a lower percentage had a specific definition of the term “early literacy,” referenced early literacy skills, or had information on the importance of reading aloud.

Early Literacy Information
More than 4 in 5 libraries (86%) had a broad reference to early literacy (e.g., description of, links to resources, etc.) somewhere on their website (see Chart 1). Eighty-five percent featured programs including storytimes, summer reading, and/or other early literacy initiatives. More than half of libraries (53%) had links to media (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.) or media lists for children ages 0 to 5, such as the Notable Children’s Books List by the American Library Association (ALA) or lists developed by the library itself. Almost 2 in 5 libraries (39%) linked to websites such as Great Websites for Kids by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and children’s e-book sites (e.g., Tumblebooks, StoryHour, etc.). Only about 1 in 7 referenced early literacy research on their website (15%), and/or provided early literacy brochures, tips, or guides (14%). Less than 5 percent had information on early literacy training or workshops.

316_chart1

In addition to the general types of early literacy information discussed above, the websites were also analyzed for specific content about early literacy, including:

  • Discussion of long-term benefits: A small percentage of library websites contained specific information on the long-term positive effects of building early literacy skills. Just about 1 in 10 libraries (12%) linked early literacy skills to improved school readiness. Other benefits of building early literacy skills, such as contributing to healthy early brain development and later success in life, were mentioned even less frequently.
  • Definition of “early literacy” and description of early literacy skills: Only 7 percent of libraries had a brief definition of the term “early literacy,” while 15 percent had a description of early literacy skills on their websites.
  • Information on the importance of reading aloud: Fifteen percent of libraries had information on the importance of reading aloud to children as a way to build early literacy skills. Just 8 percent highlighted the importance of reading aloud to babies beginning from birth and/or reading aloud every day.

Information on Storytimes on Library Websites
Of the 104 libraries that offered storytimes in 2011,8 98 had websites. Of these 98, 85 percent posted their storytime schedule or calendar on their websites (see Chart 2). Nearly half of these libraries (46%) offered all-inclusive family storytimes for all age groups, and a similar percentage (44%) offered separate storytimes for different age groups, e.g. baby, toddler, and preschool. Some libraries offered both. Almost 1 in 3 libraries (29%) offered storytimes for babies beginning from birth. About 1 in 6 libraries offered storytimes with a certified animal (17%) and/or in Spanish or bilingual English and Spanish (16%), and 15 percent offered themed storytimes (e.g., pajama). Just 1 in 20 libraries (5%) offered storytimes in languages other than Spanish, including American Sign Language, Russian, and French. Less than 5 percent linked to a video example of storytime (4%),9 or contained “other” storytime information (e.g., outreach storytimes, etc.) (3%).

Almost 1 in 3 Colorado public libraries (29%) offer storytimes specifically for babies beginning from birth, based on schedule information available on their websites.

316_chart2

Early Literacy Information in Languages Other Than English
One in 6 libraries (17%) provided early literacy information on their websites in Spanish. In contrast, just 1 in 16 libraries (6%) provided early literacy information in other languages besides Spanish on their websites. Examples of information resources included links to ¡Colorín Colorado! and the International Children’s Digital Library, early literacy handouts in Spanish, and a button on the homepage to translate the website into another language.

Link to StoryBlocks Videos
In 2008, Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL) launched www.clel.org to bring together information about library early literacy programs and services in Colorado and to provide tools and resources for library staff. In 2009, CLEL developed StoryBlocks in partnership with Rocky Mountain PBS. StoryBlocks is a collection of 30- to 60-second videos designed to model songs, rhymes, and fingerplays in both English and Spanish to parents, caregivers, and library staff. Each video clip includes helpful early literacy tips to increase caregivers’ understanding of child development and pre-literacy needs. Close to 1 in 5 libraries (18%) provided a link to StoryBlocks videos on their websites.

Conclusion
Results of this study indicate that Colorado’s public libraries have the possibility of promoting substantially more early literacy information on their websites. There is a real opportunity for Colorado’s public libraries to more fully use their websites to demonstrate the library’s critical role in educating parents, caregivers, and early childhood educators on the benefits of developing children’s early literacy skills.

The Colorado State Library has an online early literacy resource guide with a selection of recommended best practices that libraries can copy and paste onto their own websites that includes:

  • A definition of the term “early literacy”
  • Descriptions of the Every Child Ready to Read @ your Library® (ECCR) early literacy skills and activities10
  • Research-based information about the long-term effects and benefits of building early literacy skills
  • Information about the importance of reading aloud everyday to both children and babies beginning from birth
  • Links to StoryBlocks videos of songs and rhymes in both English and Spanish
Copy and paste early literacy resources onto your library’s website from the Colorado State Library’s Online Early Literacy Resource Guide: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdelib/LibraryDevelopment/YouthServices/downloads/pdf/EarlyLiteracyOnlineResourceGuide.pdf

Colorado School Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies, 2011-2012

For the 2011-2012 school year, the annual Colorado School Library Survey included a new section to assess the degree to which school libraries use technology to communicate with students and assist them in accessing library resources. A total of 442 endorsed school librarians11 participated in the survey. Their responses show how prevalent various web technologies are in school libraries staffed by an endorsed librarian, as well as which types of schools are more likely to adopt these technologies.

While almost all Colorado public school libraries staffed by CDE-endorsed librarians have OPACs (99%) and 9 in 10 have websites (93%), fewer than 1 in 10 have Facebook and Twitter(8%).

Use of Web Technologies – All Schools
Of those Colorado public school libraries with endorsed librarians who completed the survey, almost all (99%) have online public access catalogs (OPACs), 93 percent have links from their schools’ homepages to their libraries’ websites/resources, and 92 percent have wireless Internet access available for students (Chart 1). Also, nine in ten (90%) of these libraries have websites. Collaborative software, such as Sharepoint, is used by almost one-half (47%) of school libraries with endorsed librarians. However, just over 1 in 4 of these libraries have blogs (27%), 1 in 5 have wikis (21%), and fewer than 1 in 10 have Facebook pages (8%) and Twitter accounts (8%). Clearly, school libraries are selective in this area, bypassing social media tools—or at least those asked about in this survey—in favor of other types of online presence.12

315_chart1

Use of Web Technologies by Grade Level
With the exception of libraries at combined schools (i.e., schools that combine multiple grade levels, such as K-8, within a single facility), Colorado public school libraries are on the same playing field in their use of basic web technologies. Approximately 9 out of 10 high school, middle school, and elementary school libraries with endorsed librarians have OPACs, websites, links from their schools’ homepages to their libraries’ websites/resources, and wireless internet access for students (Chart 2). However, middle school libraries outpace all other school library types in their use of Web 2.0 technologies. More than one-half (57%) of middle school libraries use collaborative software, two-fifths use blogs (42%), almost one-fourth (23%) use wikis, and slightly more than 1 in 10 have Facebook pages (14%) and Twitter accounts (12%). Libraries at combined schools are the least likely to have 5 of the 9 web technologies discussed here: OPACs (98%), links from their schools’ homepages (83%), websites (78%), collaborative software (38%), and Facebook (4%).

315_chart2

*Library website/resources linked from school homepage

Use of Web Technologies by Enrollment
Use of web technologies by Colorado public school libraries with endorsed librarians also varies according to enrollment (Chart 3). Libraries serving schools with enrollments of 1,000 or more (large schools) are most likely to have all of the web technologies except for blogs, wikis, and Twitter. Libraries that serve schools with enrollments between 500 and 999 are most likely to have blogs and wikis, but are either equivalent to or fall behind the large schools in regard to the other technologies. Meanwhile, school libraries serving schools with enrollments of fewer than 500 students (small schools) are least likely to have all of the web technologies except for links from their schools’ homepages, wifi, and wikis.

315_chart3

*Library website/resources linked from school homepage

Conclusion
Maintaining an online presence certainly offers advantages to school libraries, especially in situations when personal interaction is not feasible. Becky Russell, School Library Content Specialist at the Colorado State Library, remarks, “By using and providing leadership in technology, school librarians can help their students and staffs become more digitally literate and provide access to library resources 24/7. In addition, school librarians’ use of interactive web technologies can offer collaborative opportunities and feedback that will help them improve their chances of providing outstanding and essential customer service.” Though few can deny the benefits of maintaining an online presence, not all school libraries can afford to commit to this endeavor, especially when funding—and therefore staff—is stretched thin. During the coming years, it will be important to track web technology adoption trends over time, to determine whether more school libraries are able to overcome budgetary and other obstacles to take advantage of virtual tools and the learning and communication opportunities they afford.

21st-Century Instruction Strategies in Colorado School Libraries

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and the American Association of School Libraries (AASL) have both established standards to guide educators in fostering their students’ development of 21st-century skills. In order to demonstrate the critical role of school librarians in this process, it is important to establish the extent to which they are engaging in activities to meet these standards.

“The term ‘21st-century skills’ is generally used to refer to certain core competencies such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving that advocates believe schools need to teach to help students thrive in today’s world.” -Education Week13

In 2011-2012, 442 school librarians14 participated in the annual Colorado School Library Survey. The survey included a new section that focused on 21st-century instruction strategies. Respondents were asked how often they engaged in the eight strategies listed below, which reflect the CDE and AASL standards.

Teaching Strategies Based on the CDE and AASL Standards
• Teach students how to use digital resources
• Help students to apply critical thinking skills
• Help students to use technology to organize and share information
• Help students to evaluate the credibility of information sources, including the Internet
• Facilitate opportunities for student-led inquiry
• Teach students cooperatively with teachers
• Facilitate learning activities where students work collaboratively in groups
• Plan instructional units with teachers

Results
The most frequent activity across Colorado public school libraries with endorsed librarians, regardless of grade level or enrollment, was “teach students to use digital resources”; 7 in 10 respondents reported helping students develop this skill at least once a week. About 3 in 5 respondents reported that they help students apply critical thinking skills (61%) and use technology to organize and share information (59%) at least once a week.

Respondents engaged least frequently in the activities “plan instructional units with teachers” and “facilitate learning activities where students work collaboratively in groups;” however, close to half of them reported doing these at least weekly. Chart 1 further breaks down how often school librarians engaged in the eight teaching strategies during the 2011-2012 school year.

Chart 1
Frequency of Teaching Strategies of Endorsed School Librarians
In Colorado Public Schools

314_chart1Differences by Grade Level and Enrollment
The three most and least common teaching methods remained more or less consistent regardless of grade level and enrollment, but some differences in the overall levels of library instruction emerged among different types of schools. Endorsed librarians at the secondary level, for example, engaged most often in these activities, with as many as four-fifths (82%) of respondents from high school libraries and nearly three-fourths (72%) of respondents from middle school libraries participating in some type of them at least once a week. Elementary schools and combined schools (schools containing grades within both primary and secondary levels, e.g., K-8 schools) reported conducting library instruction less often than secondary schools. Two-thirds of respondents (67%) from elementary schools and a little more than 3 in 5 respondents (63%) from combined schools reported that they engaged in some type of these activities at least once a week. High school librarians were especially focused on helping students to use digital resources (4 in 5 engaged in this activity at least once a week) and to evaluate the credibility of information sources (3 in 4 taught these skills at least once a week).

The frequency with which endorsed school librarians engaged in these activities also differed based on enrollment. Librarians at large schools (1,000 students or more) engaged in these strategies most frequently. More than 4 in 5 respondents (82%) from these schools engage in one or more of these teaching activities at least once a week, while this number drops to 3 in 5 (60%) in medium-sized schools (500-999 students), and to a little under half (47%) in schools with fewer than 500 students.

Conclusion
Overall, according to these survey results, endorsed school librarians in Colorado are engaging in a variety of teaching activities that help students to acquire 21st-century skills. They are most frequently engaging in activities such as teaching students about using digital resources and critical thinking, but are collaborating with teachers less often. Students in large schools and at the secondary level have the greatest advantages in library instruction. In contrast, elementary school students and students in combined and/or small schools are less likely to encounter 21st-century instruction strategies in their school libraries.

When considering these results, it is important to keep in mind the challenges that schools face in the current economy with regards to funding for resources and staffing, and how they limit the extent to which school libraries can implement 21st-century instruction strategies. Small schools may be particularly vulnerable to such challenges. Therefore, stakeholders should carefully consider how access to funding and other resources impact school libraries and student academic achievement.

Looking forward, these results may be used to direct the professional development activities of school librarians to better align their skills with current educational standards. In addition, as these instruction strategies become more fully implemented, the survey results may help to demonstrate the central role of school librarians in imparting 21st-century skills to students.

Participant Satisfaction With Computer Training Classes in Colorado’s Public Computer Centers

In September 2010, the Colorado State Library (CSL) secured a $3.3 million Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) grant including $2.3 million in federal funds, $754,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and $316,234 in matching and in-kind donations from local libraries, CSL, and community organizations. This grant funded 50 grantees to build or enhance Public Computer Centers (PCCs) in 88 high-need urban and rural communities with high poverty rates, ethnic diversity, low broadband penetration, and/or limited access to public computers.

“I needed to refresh my skills on Excel before I took a test for a promotion…[The instructor] showed me how to do charts and graphs and helped me with keyboard shortcuts.” -BTOP Class Participant

One of the key activities of the CSL BTOP grant is for PCCs to offer computer training classes to the public. Class topics include basic internet and computer use (email, internet searching, social networking), office skills (Microsoft Office, presentations), job seeking (resume basics, job search strategies), multimedia (photo editing, website design), and mobile computing (e-books, mobile devices).

A total of 57 PCCs offered 1,364 classes to 8,625 participants between March and December 2011. Of these PCCs, 26 (46%) administered a survey in their classes to receive feedback from participants. Between May and December 2011, 151,755 participants completed the survey, which contained questions about the class, as well as about participants’ previous experience with computers.

This Fast Facts, which is the second in a three-part series about the CSL BTOP project’s first year, highlights the results from these surveys.16

“I have used Craigslist before, but only to browse for buying or renting. Now I feel confident to create postings. I want to sell things and advertise tutoring and gardening services. Thanks for offering this class.” – BTOP Class Participant

Participant Satisfaction
More than 9 in 10 respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the instructor presented the information clearly, that they learned a valuable skill in the class, and that they would be able to use what they learned (see Chart 1).17Overall, respondents expressed satisfaction with the classes, with more than 95% strongly agreeing or agreeing that they would recommend the class to someone else.

Chart 1
PCC Class Participant Feedback

312_Chart 1

Class Level of Difficulty
Regarding the level of difficulty, 9 in 10 respondents (89%) indicated that their class was “just about right” (see Chart 2). The remaining 11% found their class to be either “too easy” or “too hard.”

 Chart 2
Class Level of Difficulty

312_Chart 2

Participant Level of Computer Experience
Prior to the class, close to two-thirds (61%) of the participants determined their level of computer experience to be either first timer or beginner (see Chart 3). The remaining 39% identified their level as either intermediate or advanced.

 Chart 3
Level of Experience with Computers Prior to Class

312_Chart 3

Class Difficulty by Level of Computer Experience
Most of the respondents who found their class to be too hard (83%) identified themselves as first timers or beginners (see Chart 4). Consistent with this data is that 6 in 10 respondents (62%) who rated the class as too easy possessed an intermediate or advanced level of experience with computers.

Chart 4
Class Difficulty by Level of Computer Experience

312_Chart 4

Learning about the Class
Results from the survey showed that 7 out of 10 respondents learned about the class from the library (staff, website, email, flyer) (see Chart 5). The remaining 30% learned about the class from a family member or friend, the community (banner, yard sign, flyer), newspaper, radio, or “other” sources (Workforce center, Denver Green Jobs, iCast, etc.).

“I’ve recommended these classes to my family and friends. Thank you for offering these classes.”
-BTOP Class Participant

 Chart 5
How Respondents Learned About the Class

312_Chart 5

Conclusion
The PCC class participant survey data demonstrates that Colorado libraries and PCCs are providing computer training classes where patrons are learning new technology skills that they value. Having free and reliable broadband internet access at PCCs empowers patrons across Colorado to use their newly learned skills to improve and enrich their own lives. As one participant shared, the class is “excellent in getting started—the rest is up to me.”

Colorado’s Public Computer Centers: Bridging the Great Digital Divide

In September 2010, the Colorado State Library (CSL) secured a $2.3 million Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) grant through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The CSL BTOP grant, totaling $3.3 million, includes $754,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $316,234 worth of matching and in-kind donations from local libraries, CSL, and community organizations. This Fast Facts, which is the first in a three-part series about the CSL BTOP project’s first year,18 summarizes the CSL BTOP project’s location, equipment, training, and usage data during its first year of implementation (March to December 2011).19

CSL BTOP Grant Goals:

  • Increase public access to high speed broadband services in high-need/low-income communities
  • Serve vulnerable populations (including the unemployed, underemployed, non-English speakers, seniors, and people with disabilities)
  • Support job search and career advancement
  • Increase digital literacy
  • Enhance access to libraries and computers through ADA compliance

Locations
The CSL BTOP grant funded 50 grantees to build or enhance Public Computer Centers (PCCs) in 88 high-need urban and rural communities in Colorado with high poverty rates, ethnic diversity, low broadband penetration, and/or limited access to public computers. The PCCs are located primarily in public libraries, and in a museum, town hall, general store, and other spaces in communities without libraries. In 2011, 54 of the PCCs held launches to publicize their services and to give community members the opportunity to test out and receive training on the new desktop computers, laptops, iPads, and tablets.

311_Image 1Equipment
Over the course of the CSL BTOP grant, the planned equipment purchases will total 1,293 computer devices, including 681 laptops, 59 tablets, 487 desktops, 66 ADA compliant stations, and other equipment for training and public use. By the end of 2011, more than four-fifths of the PCCs (83%) had purchased and installed their equipment for public use. Each grantee used its own discretion on how to allocate funds based on community needs. For example, the John C. Fremont Library in Florence, which serves the rural areas of Coal Creek, Rockvale, and Williamsburg, offers classes at a senior center and kids clubs via a mobile laptop lab. Likewise, the Lamar Public Library partners with community groups and brings their mobile PCC lab to City of Lamar offices, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, and to outlying communities in rural areas of Prowers County. Another PCC, the Literacy Center at Delta County, purchased iPads for computer training and in-library checkout.

Training
The BTOP team at the Colorado State Library provides library staff with computer training and support to develop, market, and launch their PCCs. The BTOP team developed an extensive “Train the Technology Trainer” program for PCC staff and volunteers. In 2011, three full-time members of CSL’s BTOP team provided 470 hours of instruction (127 classes, workshops, webinars, and boot camps) to 2,883 technology trainers. The BTOP team received progressively higher ratings for these trainings over the course of 3 quarters (March to December 2011). More than 4 out of 5 participants (86%) rated the trainings overall as “excellent” or “above average” in Q2, and these ratings increased to 90% in Q3 and 92% in Q4. About 9 in 10 participants indicated that they would “definitely” or “probably” recommend the trainings to others in Q2 (89%) and Q3 (90%), and 94% did so in Q4.

In 2011, staff from 57 PCCs reported offering 1,364 computer training classes to community members (see Chart 1). These classes were attended by 8,625 participants over 2,744 hours of class. Close to two-thirds of the classes (60%) were about basic internet and computer use (email, internet searching). Classes also covered office skills (Microsoft Office, Quickbooks), job seeking (resume basics, job search strategies), multimedia (HTML, Photoshop), and “other” topics (ESL, GED, genealogy, language learning, grant seeking, benefits access, mobile device usage, etc.).

Chart 1
PCC Computer Training Classes, 2011

311_Chart 1

Open Access Usage
The PCCs also kept track of the use of computers during open access times. In 2011, they reported a total of 1.3 million of these types of uses (see Chart 2). Nine out of ten uses (89%) were unassisted, meaning that residents used the computers on their own. The remaining 11 percent included individual tutoring sessions in which users received assistance from PCC staff or volunteers. Of the assisted one-on-one sessions, most (92%) were unscheduled.

Chart 2
Computer Usage, 2011
Assisted and Unassisted
311_Chart 2

Conclusion
Sharon Morris, Director of Library Development and Innovation at the Colorado State Library and the BTOP Project Director, has described the PCC grants as a way for libraries “to re-invent the way they are serving their communities.”20 The 2011 BTOP project data demonstrates that through their PCCs, Colorado libraries are providing computer access and training throughout the state, improving accessibility, and helping residents to more fully participate in and benefit from using the internet. By providing public computers with free and reliable broadband internet access in libraries and other community support centers, PCCs promote small business development, improve job skills, enable lifelong learning, and connect Coloradans of all ages with family, local, and global communities.21

BTOP Workforce Efforts and Partnership

In September 2010, the Colorado State Library (CSL) secured a $3.3 million Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) grant including $2.3 million in federal funds, $754,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and $316,234 in matching and in-kind donations from local libraries, CSL, and community organizations. This grant funded 50 grantees to build or enhance Public Computer Centers (PCCs) in 88 high-need urban and rural communities with high poverty rates, ethnic diversity, low broadband penetration, and/or limited access to public computers.

This Fast Facts, which is the third in a three-part series about the CSL BTOP project’s first year, highlights the project’s workforce efforts, partnerships, and statewide initiatives that have focused on addressing critical workforce development issues in Colorado’s rural areas.22

Introduction
With many communities finding libraries to be their only source of free access to the internet, libraries are playing a central role in providing employment-seeking assistance to millions of job seekers affected by the economic downturn:

In Colorado, 56 percent of libraries are located in communities where the library is the only place to provide free access to computers and the internet.23

• In 2011, more than 90 percent of US public libraries reported that providing employment services is important to their communities.24
• Librarians themselves identified employment services to job-seekers as the most important public access technology service that they offer to their communities.25
• Almost half of the respondents (47%) to a 2010 workforce investment boards survey indicated that they had entered into partnerships with local libraries in order to deliver employment and training services.26

In Colorado, 92 percent of public libraries provide access to jobs databases and other job opportunity resources.27 More than 4 in 5 provide access to civil service exam materials, help patrons complete online job applications, and offer software and other resources to help patrons create resumes and other job-seeking materials.28

“Yesterday alone I helped three people format and upload resumes. Without the PCC, where would these people get assistance?” -PCC Staff Member

The CSL BTOP project has positioned Colorado’s libraries to effectively partner locally and regionally, while CSL staff have coordinated statewide efforts for public libraries to be instrumental in creating greater workforce development opportunities for Colorado’s job seekers.

1 PCC, 2 Success Stories
“A hearty congratulations to John Morris on his new employment as an assembler for Kelly Services at Covidien in Boulder. John’s been burning up the hours on our High Plains computers for 3 months. Persistence finally paid off. We’ll be having a mini celebration right here at 3 Coffee this FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, at 9am. Cake, balloons and funk music. All are welcome to stop by.”  Posted on 3 Coffee & Roastery’s Facebook page on January 9, 2012. 3 Coffee & Roastery is a High Plains Library District PCC location in Milliken, CO. (http://snurl.com/pcc-3cr-jm)
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation highlights the story of a 3 Coffee & Roastery PCC patron, Gene Jaramillo, in a video titled “Libraries: More Than Books.” According to Jaramillo, “the company I worked at, which I thought I would retire from, ended up closing after 18 years. So I was out looking for a job. I needed skills.” Jaramillo booked an appointment with the PCC Supervisor. “I was able to create my resume, fine tune my resume, and send my resume” and “because of skills that she helped me with, now I’ll have a job starting next week,” he commented. (http://youtu.be/4pzJEbL2tak)

Colorado’s Workforce Centers
Regional Workforce Centers are located in urban and more populated areas of Colorado. These workforce centers provide a variety of free services to assist both employers and job seekers, including access to online job listings, computers, and high-speed internet. Job seekers can obtain career counseling and training, while employers have access to worker recruitment services such as pre-screening, referrals, training reimbursements, and tax credits.

The Colorado Rural Workforce Consortium
The Colorado Rural Workforce Consortium (CRWC) is comprised of the Colorado Department of Labor and Colorado Workforce Centers and “was formed to meet the collective needs of Colorado’s rural communities relating to workforce vitality.”29 The CRWC consists of 11 workforce regions covering 52 rural counties in Colorado. However, 20 of these counties do not have a workforce center, and the consortium recognized that it needed to devise alternate solutions for providing services to them.30 With 83 public libraries located in the CRWC regions (38 of which are BTOP libraries), libraries were perfectly positioned to team up with the CRWC to help create and implement the Virtual Workforce Center at the Library.

Virtual Workforce Center at the Library
Virtual Workforce Center at the Library (VWFC) provides dedicated workforce stations at libraries with a virtual connection to the nearest Regional Workforce Center. This statewide partnership funded thirty rural libraries to receive equipment and software for computer workstations dedicated to career and economic development. The VWFCs are scheduled to “go live” in fall 2012. Many other partner libraries that are not receiving computer equipment are still benefitting by participating in VWFC training and accessing the VWFC’s YourWorkForceCenter.com portal, an online gateway for patrons who are looking for jobs, business owners who are seeking employees, and residents needing social services.

VWFCs are designed to bring many of the services found at regional workforce centers to employers and job seekers in remote and rural areas. Whereas many public access computers at libraries have a 30- to 60-minute limit per session, the dedicated VWFC workstations allow patrons to use the computers for the time necessary for completing online job applications.

By co-locating the library’s technology resources and the Workforce Center’s career development resources inside of the library’s physical space, VWFCs are able to provide patrons with enhanced access to computers, high-speed internet, and the YourWorkForceCenter.com portal, as well as assistance from Workforce Center staff and library staff—all without having to drive to a distant Regional Workforce Center.

Since some workstations will be equipped with a camera, microphone, and an ISDN video line, patrons will even be able to make appointments for virtual face-to-face counseling sessions with Workforce Center staff. There are plans for many VWFCs to offer training sessions for job seekers on creating resumes, preparing for job interviews, and much more. For those who live far from regional offices, the VWFCs are powerful and accessible resources for improving employment prospects.

BTOP Computer Training Classes
In 2011, BTOP sites offered 22 classes on business development and 93 classes on job seeking, including those for the VWFC program. As comments on class evaluations show, these computer training classes met the needs of a variety of participants, including job seekers looking to improve their resumes or perform better on job skills tests, as well as employed patrons looking to update or improve their job skills.

Comments from PCC Computer Training Class Participants
“This was great and the fact that it was free is the most amazing part. I have been at a disadvantage in not being proficient at the MS Office programs while looking for a new job and now I can add these courses to my resume.”

“Thank you very much!!! I am taking a test for the City and County tomorrow, and this class was very helpful. I would come back and access the resources available for future reference.”

“I used to be great with Excel, but haven’t used it since college. I’m starting a new job where I’ll need that knowledge and this was a great way to brush up on those skills.”

“I was thrilled about the helpful instruction of [PCC staff member]. She is a gem and I will be able to use these skills at my job. Thank you for providing this service.”

Conclusion
The Virtual Workforce Center at the Library initiative is a direct result of multiple state agencies partnering and working together toward the same goal to boost statewide economic recovery. Libraries provide a space where technology, trained staff, and equipment physically come together so that employers can find skilled workers and job-seekers can find meaningful employment. With their newly expanded role as career development centers, libraries are clearly full partners in the statewide initiative to power Colorado’s economic turnaround. As Jamie Hollier, BTOP Project Coordinator commented, “These computer centers are much more than just a computer and internet access. They are an education place, a gathering place. They fill a lot of roles, especially in rural Colorado. The [BTOP] program has been integral to giving us the access to resources and tools and training to help make sure that no one gets left behind.”31

“One of the women I talked to in class has been looking for work for a year and finding that every place she talked to requires an online application, but she had never used a computer before. Our class Monday was the first time she’d successfully navigated from one web page to another, and she’s excited about the Word class, because she’s never had a digital version of a resume and she can’t find work without one.” -PCC Staff Member

For more information about CSL’s BTOP project, visit http://coloradovirtuallibrary.org/btop/.

Challenged Materials in Colorado Public Libraries, 2011

In 2011, 60 challenges to materials were reported by 13 of Colorado’s 114 public libraries. The number of challenges was reported through the Colorado Public Library Annual Report, and library staff responded to a follow-up survey to provide details about these items, including the items’ formats, the reasons for the challenges, and the resulting outcomes.32 This information is tracked annually and is also reported to the American Library Association (ALA).33

ALA defines a challenge as an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.

Challenges over Time
2011 was a fairly typical year for the number of challenges reported, with 60 falling slightly below the 10-year average of 69 (see Chart 1).

310_Chart 1

Formats
Books were the most common type of item challenged (63%), followed by videos (28%). Only 1 Internet challenge (information about a library’s matching grant from the Gay and Lesbian Fund) was reported in 2011, marking a change from 2010, which saw Internet challenges rise and book challenges drop. In 2010, a number of requests to have materials unblocked from filtering software were reported; though this was expected to mark the beginning of a trend in rising challenges to computer resources, these challenges were largely absent in 2011. Two periodicals, 1 activity (a Dungeons and Dragons club), and 1 audiobook were also challenged in 2011 (see Chart 2).

310_Chart 2

Audience
Most of the items (77%) challenged were adult items. Just 9 were young adult (YA) items, and 5 were children’s items, numbers more or less consistent with previous years (see Chart 3).

310_Chart 3

Results of Challenges
One book was removed from Colorado public libraries in 2011. The title was The Two Babylons or Papal Worship Proved to be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife, and the basis for removal was that the book relies on faulty research and incorrect information and is also widely available online. Most items (83%) saw no change in status. Another 3 items were moved to a different section of the library; 1 was given new subtitles (the American subtitles apparently being less explicit than the Japanese version of the video); 4 others were either undecided at the time of reporting or not reported by the library; and 1 challenge was dropped by the patron (see Chart 4).

310_Chart 4

Reasons
More items (42%) were challenged based on a religious viewpoint than for any other reason in 2011. Sexual explicitness was the second most frequently cited reason, with 16 challenges. Other reasons for challenges are detailed in Table 1.34 This is the first time in 10 years that “religious viewpoint” has been among the top 3 reasons for challenges. Since 2002, the most common three reasons for challenges have been “sexually explicit” (the number-one challenge for 7 out of 10 years), “unsuited to age group,” and “offensive language.”

310_Table 1

For more information on challenges and intellectual freedom, visit:

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