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Coloradans–and Colorado Public Libraries–Top National Internet Norms

Recent state and national surveys indicate that Coloradans—and Colorado public libraries—meet or exceed several national norms regarding the Internet. Coloradans are 38 percent more likely to be regular Internet users. Nationwide, 34 percent of American adults use the Internet on at least a monthly basis, but 47 percent of Colorado adults do so. Similarly, the state’s public libraries are 22 percent more likely than libraries nationwide to provide Internet access. Sixty percent of U.S. public libraries provide Internet access, compared with 73 percent in Colorado.

Colorado public libraries enjoy this distinction whether they are in urban (i.e., metropolitan) or rural (i.e., non-metropolitan) areas (see table in full report).

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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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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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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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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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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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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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POPULAR RESOURCES

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  • 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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