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After School and Weekend Hours of Library Media Centers in Colorado Public Schools, 1997

Time is precious during the school day, whether one is a student, a teacher, a staff member, or an administrator. All too often sufficient time cannot be found to visit the school library media center (LMC) during regular school hours. What’s a person to do? One commonly used alternative is the local public library; but in many small and outlying communities public libraries are open even fewer hours than LMCs. Besides, few public libraries anywhere in the state develop staff and collections with the intention that they serve as adequate substitutes for their school counterparts. Ideally, then, students, teachers, and others—including parents—would be able to visit their school’s LMC at some time beyond the regular school schedule, either after school on weekdays or on the weekend. Of course, such “after hours” access requires a variety of resources, including staff, funding, training, and a secure facility. The number and schedule of such hours will vary based on the school and the community.

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The Status of School Library Media Programs in Colorado, 1994-97

Library Media Staffing
The practice of librarianship is becoming de-professionalized in Colorado schools. From 1994 to 1997, the number of library media staff per 100 students dropped only slightly from .31 to .30 full-time equivalents (FTEs). During the same interval, the number of endorsed library media specialists per 100 students for the typical school library media program fell from .12 FTEs to .08 FTEs—a 33 percent cut. Library media specialists have been displaced by other staff, such as library media aides—who are not endorsed—and BOCES and contract library media staff—who may or may not be endorsed. In 1997, the statewide total hours per typical week for BOCES and contract staff was 61 hours. Barely 1.5 FTE statewide, these staff served 65 schools. That amounts to 56 minutes of “professional” staff attention per typical week to the library media program in each school.

1994-97 Highlights

  • Overall staffing static. Endorsed library media specialists cut. BOCES/contract staff spread thin.
  • Book collections holding in size, but periodical collections declining.
  • Reduced spending and inflationary prices of books and periodicals mean aging collections.

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Public Libraries, Education, Technology, and Colorado Kids

Ninety-five percent of Colorado households report having one or more members who used the services of a public library within the past year, according to a 1996 public opinion poll by MGA Communications, Inc. For households including children younger than age 18, that figure is 96 percent—a negligible 1 percent difference. Beyond that basic fact, however, there are many noteworthy differences in the responses from households with children and those without children.

  • Families with kids use public libraries more often. Households with children are more than twice as likely to visit libraries on a weekly basis and more than 20 percent more likely to visit libraries once or twice a month.
  • Families with kids are more likely to use library technology. Two out of 3 households with children report using library computers to find information not available locally. Less than half of households without children report such use.

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ACLIN & Internet Services in Colorado Public Libraries, 1997

While many still think of libraries primarily as warehouses for books, almost all of Colorado’s public libraries now provide electronic access to information. The two primary channels of such access are ACLIN, the Access Colorado Library and Information Network, and the global Internet. ACLIN includes OVER 230 library catalogs and other informational databases.

Electronic Access to Information
The most ubiquitous form of electronic access to information in Colorado public libraries is to ACLIN. All Coloradans living in public library service areas of 5,000 or more can consult ACLIN at their libraries. The overwhelming majority of the state’s smallest public libraries also provide ACLIN access.

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Selected Policies and Practices of School Library Media Programs in Colorado, 1997

The 1997 Survey of School Library Media Centers (LMCs) in Colorado included, for the first time, items about a variety of issues including: LMC development plans, the Colorado Information Literacy Guidelines, policies on materials selection and challenges, and the relationship of the school library media center to the local public library.

LMC Development Plan

  • Seven out of 10 LMCs report having a plan for the development of the library media program.

Information Literacy

  • Eight out of 10 LMCs use the Colorado Information Literacy Guidelines.
  • Of that group, 2 out of 3 use them as part of an integrated curriculum, while the remaining third use them with the library media program alone.

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Technology in School Library Media Centers in Colorado 1997

A first look at 1997 data on school library media centers in Colorado reveals some new insights about the role of technology in Colorado’s school library media programs.

From 1994 to 1997, the number of library media centers (LMCs) making various technologies available to their clients—both teachers and students—increased dramatically.

Highlights:

  • Since 1994, Internet access for students has more than tripled. While only 1 in 6 LMCs provided Internet access for students in 1994, 7 out of 10 provide such access today. While 1 in 5 teachers could access the Internet via their LMC in 1994, 3 out of 4 teachers have such access today. And, practically all of these LMCs provide access to the World Wide Web.
  • In 1994, only 2 out of 5 LMCs provided access to the Access Colorado Library and Information Network (ACLIN). Today, 2 out of 3 LMCs provide such access.

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Information: THAT’S Entertainment!

We hear a lot about the role of information in the economy these days, but the focus is usually on its increasingly critical role in business, industry, and government. What about the role of information in the consumer sector of the economy? How big a part of the U.S. economy is it as an entertainment product?

Highlights
Americans spend …

  • four times as much on books as on tickets to movies or sporting events.
  • more on books and periodicals combined than on children’s toys or adult “toys,” such as cameras, boats, and exercise equipment.
  • twice as much on electronic information and the equipment it requires as on amusement parks, bowling alleys, bus tours, dance halls, golf courses, skating rinks, and swimming pools combined.

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Electronic Services in Academic Libraries, Colorado & U.S., Fall 1996

For the first time, in Fall 1996, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Academic Library Survey included questions about electronic services in academic libraries. In addition to such familiar services as the library catalog, online databases, and—more recently—Internet access, these libraries now offer a wide variety of additional electronic services, such as electronic full-text of periodical articles, interlibrary loan/document delivery services, and e-mail reference service. The prevalence of these service varies, however, among university, college, and community college libraries. It also varies frequently between Colorado institutions and their peers nationwide.

Catalogs of Library Holdings
Virtually all academic libraries in Colorado and their peers nationwide provide electronic catalogs of their holdings for use in the library. Virtually all university libraries and the majority of college and community college libraries also provide remote access to these catalogs both on campus and beyond.

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The Status of School Library Media Centers in Colorado, Neighboring States, and the United States 1993-94

The youngest of the national statistical surveys on libraries is the one for school library media centers. The first installment of this survey, which is scheduled for every 5 years, was conducted during the 1993-94 school year. Some preliminary results have just been published in SASS by State, 1993-94 Schools and Staffing Survey: Selected State Results. Though certainly dated, these results provide some important insights into the status of school library media centers in Colorado. To give those results context, they are also compared here with the results for neighboring states as well as the nation.

Highlights

  • Elementary schools more likely to lack library media specialists.
  • Poorer Colorado schools more likely to have understaffed LMCs, particularly to lack library media specialists.
  • Smallest Colorado schools more likely to have understaffed LMCs.
  • Colorado teachers indicate higher awareness of library media specialist’s role in instructional process.

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Librarian Internet Use Survey Results

In 1995, the High Plains Regional Library Service System administered an Internet Training and Use Grant for Colorado librarians. The goal of the project was to provide librarians without previous Internet experience with a cost-free, short-term account on Colorado SuperNet. Two years later, the Library Research Service conducted a survey of the grant participants to assess their present Internet usage, effectiveness of their initial and ongoing training, and the overall impact on their professional relationships with their patrons.

Surveys were sent to 184 grant recipients in early May 1997; 70 percent returned a completed survey. Eighty-six percent of the respondents continue to use the Internet. Of the 14 percent who no longer subscribe to the Internet, the main reasons given for not continuing the accounts were high Internet costs and not having enough time or help to become proficient in its use after initial training.

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