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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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Colorado Ranks 6th in Nation on Public Library Use, 1996

According to a recent briefing paper on the 1996 National Household Education Survey, Colorado reports higher levels of monthly and annual public library use than the nation and ranks sixth among the 50 states on annual public library use. Alaska, Utah, Washington, Maryland, and Wyoming rank higher. See table in full report.

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Libraries Nationwide Report Circulation Policies

Do circulation policies vary widely throughout the country? How do the policies of other metropolitan libraries in the U.S. compare with those of Colorado?

To find out, in June 1996, we surveyed two dozen metropolitan public libraries nationwide, 10 of which are Colorado public libraries. These libraries reported their circulation policies for different formats, and told us how they inform patrons of due dates.

Similar Trends Discovered for Different Formats
After compiling results of the surveys, we found a reassuring trend: Circulation policies for most format materials (books,  periodicals, audio cassettes, and audio CDs) are fairly uniform among libraries surveyed.

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Materials Challenges 1995

Challenges to Displays
This year, the single most common reason for a challenge was “homosexuality.” This accounted for almost two-thirds of all complaints. The next most common objection was “unsuited to age group.” Both objections challenged displays in Colorado.

The challenges in Colorado public libraries in 1995 included 3 displays; one by P-FLAG at Mesa County Public Library District, “Banned Books Week” and “Population and Planet Earth” at Jefferson County Public Library.

In Mesa County, the library received 53 challenges against a display by Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians (P-FLAG). The library also received an equal number of supportive comments, after widespread community discussions about the display. The Board of Trustees voted to keep the policy allowing community groups to sign up to use display space.

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School Library Media Centers in Colorado: A 1995-96 Status Report

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Whoever said it, it could not have been truer of Colorado’s school library media centers (LMCs) in 1996. The 1995-96 school year was another year of dramatic changes associated with the information superhighway, but it was also the second year in a row of alarming LMC staff cuts.

Following is a brief summary of the good news and the bad news about LMCs:

The Good News

  • School libraries really have become multimedia information centers. Almost 28,000 CD-ROM products are available via the state’s LMCs—an increase of more than three and a half times since 1994. Video collections have almost doubled in size during the same period.

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Public Information Officers in Selected Public Libraries, 1996

At the request of one of Colorado’s public libraries, the Library Research Service conducted a survey to determine prevailing salaries and related data for public information officers (PIOs) in public libraries. The survey was sent to all Colorado public libraries with budgets of $675,000 and over and to public libraries nationwide serving 75,000-99,999. Sixteen responses were received including 6 from Colorado and 10 from other states.

Position Titles
The PIO function is served by public library staff bearing a variety of position titles. For full-time, professional positions, the following 8 titles were reported by 9 responding libraries.

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Wages of Colorado Librarians & Library Assistants in Context 1994

If you are a professional librarian or a library assistant, you probably feel like your job is a combination of several other types of jobs, most of which are a lot better paid. Perhaps you are right. Consider the following data excerpted from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s February 1996 publication: Occupational Wages in Colorado: Average Wages for Over 700 Occupations.

In 1994, professional librarians in Colorado earned an average hourly wage of $17.33, while library technicians and assistants averaged $10.75 and $9.20 per hour, respectively. The following tables (see full report) provide context for these figures by ranking average hourly wages of librarians and library assistants with related occupations. Note: OES (Occupational Employment Statistics) codes are included to assist readers in other states in replicating these tables using data from their own state labor departments.

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Location, Location, Location

With over half of their outlets in non-metropolitan areas, public libraries are well-situated to be on-ramps to the Information Superhighway for residents of outlying and rural areas.

Public libraries can serve as on-ramps to the Information Superhighway—access points to electronically networked information for those who cannot afford—or otherwise easily obtain—a computer with a modem and a subscription to a commercial online service or a non-profit Internet access provider. The nation’s public libraries are especially well-situated to play this role in non-metropolitan areas where the availability of computers, access providers, and an adequate telecommunications infrastructure cannot be taken for granted.

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