Technology

Computers in Colorado’s Public Libraries

Colorado’s 115 public library jurisdictions provide their communities with access to technology and web
services. From wireless connectivity to always-accessible databases, public libraries are humming with
21st-century tools. Highlights from the 2012 Public Library Annual Report offer the details:

Technology Services Available Inside the Library

PDF version of this infographic.

Trends in Colorado Public Library Websites and Social Media Use

In 2008, the Library Research Service launched the biennial study, U.S. Public Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies, with the intent to document the use of various web technologies on the websites of public libraries throughout the nation. From its inception, it was conceived as a longitudinal study, with plans to revisit the sample libraries every two years to track changes in libraries’ uses of web technologies. The study is conducted as a content analysis: researchers analyze a random sample, stratified based on legal service area (LSA) population, of public library websites throughout the United States (584 in 2012), as well as the websites of all public libraries in Colorado (114—9 of which are in the national sample). The results of the 2008 study set a baseline for the adoption of web technologies nationwide. The study was repeated in 2010 and 2012, and these iterations expanded upon the 2008 findings by tracking the trends in U.S. public libraries’ use of web technologies over time as well as by examining new technologies as they emerged. Highlights from the Colorado portion of the 2012 study are presented below, in both graphical and text format:

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In 2012, 9 in 10 Colorado public libraries had websites, including:

  • all of those serving LSA populations of 100,000+ and 10,000-24,999;
  • 93 percent of those with LSA populations of 25,000-99,999; and,
  • more than 4 in 5 (85%) of those serving LSA populations less than 10,000 (up from 79% in 2010).

Over time, Colorado public library websites were analyzed for the presence of several web features that enable interactivity with users (for example, virtual reference, blogs, etc.). Some notable findings included:

  • Technologies that increased from 2010 to 2012 included: online library card sign up (9% to 17%), online account access (75% to 80%), email newsletter (18% to 27%), AddThis/ShareThis interface (18% to 24%), chat reference (59% to 67%), and text reference (1% to 4%).
  • Technologies that decreased included blogs (21% to 15%) and email reference (25% to 22%).
  • However, these trends varied depending on the library’s LSA population. The smallest libraries increased their adoption of many of the web technologies, with the exceptions of blogs (12% to 5%), AddThis/ShareThis interface (15% to 11%), and email reference (13% to 5%). The largest libraries decreased their use of online account access (100% to 92%), non-blog RSS feeds (67% to 58%), and chat reference (100% to 75%), while showing the biggest gains in online library card sign up (33% to 67%),  AddThis/ShareThis interface (33% to 75%), and text reference (0% to 25%).

A little more than half (53%) of Colorado public libraries had social media accounts:

  • Almost all (92%) of the largest libraries, close to three-fourths (71%) of libraries serving between 25,000 and 99,999, more than half (57%) of those serving 10,000 to 24,999, and 40 percent of the smallest libraries had at least one social media account.
  • Of the 9 social networks that were analyzed, libraries were most likely to be on Facebook (51%). From 2010 to 2012, libraries serving 25,000-99,999 had the biggest jump in adoption of this social network, from 36 percent to 71 percent.
  • About 1 in 5 (21%) Colorado public libraries were on Twitter and 1 in 10 were on YouTube or Flickr. However, Flickr decreased in all population groups; for example, 36 percent of libraries serving 25,000-99,999 used this social network in 2010 versus 14 percent in 2012.
  • One-fourth of the largest libraries were on Pinterest, 17 percent each were on Foursquare and Vimeo, and 8 percent were on Tumblr.
  • The largest libraries were on an average of 3.50 social networks out of the 9 included in the analysis, whereas the smallest libraries averaged less than 1.

Since 2010, the number of Colorado libraries that catered to mobile devices has increased dramatically, from 3 percent to 36 percent:

  • More than 9 in 10 (92%) of the largest libraries, 71 percent of libraries serving between 25,000 and 99,999, nearly half (48%) of libraries serving between 10,000 and 24,999, and 15 percent of the smallest libraries offered some type of mobile-friendly website access.

In terms of the specific type of mobile access,

  • About one-fourth (26%) of Colorado public libraries offered mobile applications (apps);
  • 1 in 5 libraries had mobile versions of their sites (i.e., the URL redirects to a mobile version of the website when viewed on a mobile device); however,
  • just 3 libraries used responsive design.

Related information:

 

Trends in U.S. Public Library Websites and Social Media Use

blogpost_final3

In 2008, the Library Research Service launched the biennial study, U.S. Public Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies, with the intent to document the use of various web technologies on the websites of public libraries throughout the nation. From its inception, it was conceived as a longitudinal study, with plans to revisit the sample libraries every two years to track changes in libraries’ uses of web technologies. The study is conducted as a content analysis: researchers analyze a random sample, stratified based on legal service area (LSA) population, of public library websites throughout the United States (584 in 2012), as well as the websites of all public libraries in Colorado (114—9 of which are in the national sample). The results of the 2008 study set a baseline for the adoption of web technologies nationwide. The study was repeated in 2010 and 2012, and these iterations expanded upon the 2008 findings by tracking the trends in U.S. public libraries’ use of web technologies over time as well as by examining new technologies as they emerged. Highlights from the 2012 study are presented below:

In 2012, most U.S. public libraries in the sample had websites, including:

  • all of those serving LSA populations of 25,000 and more;
  • 98 percent of those with LSA populations of 10,000 to 24,999; and,
  • a little more than 4 in 5 (83%) of those serving LSA populations less than 10,000 (up from 71% in 2010).

Over time, library websites were analyzed for the presence of several web features that enable interactivity with users (for example, virtual reference, blogs, etc.). Some notable findings included:

  • Generally, the biggest increases in terms of adoption of these features occurred in the smallest libraries. This was true for online account access (45% in 2010 vs. 70% in 2012), blogs (6% vs. 10%), RSS feeds (10% vs. 20%), and catalog search boxes (14% vs. 25%).
  • In contrast, in larger libraries, many of these features either remained relatively constant or declined from 2010 to 2012. One notable exception was text reference, which increased from 13 percent to 43 percent in libraries serving more than 500,000.
  • In most libraries, regardless of size, ShareThis/AddThis features increased, email newsletters and online library card sign up held relatively constant, and chat reference dropped from 2010 to 2012.

The majority of libraries had social media accounts:

  • Almost all (93%) of the largest libraries, a little more than 4 in 5 (83%) libraries serving between 25,000 and 499,999, 7 in 10 (69%) of those serving 10,000 to 24,999, and 54 percent of the smallest libraries had at least one social media account.
  • Of the 9 social networks that were analyzed, libraries were most likely to be on Facebook (93% of the largest libraries, 82% of libraries serving between 25,000 and 499,999, 68% of libraries serving between 10,000 and 24,999, and 54% of the smallest libraries). From 2010 to 2012, the smallest libraries had the biggest jump in adoption of this social network, from 18 percent to 54 percent.
  • Other common social networks were Twitter (84% of the largest libraries were on this network) and YouTube (60% of the largest libraries). Flickr was also common, however, it has decreased in all population groups from 2010 to 2012; for example, 63 percent of the largest libraries used this social network in 2010 versus 42 percent in 2012.
  • Close to one-third (31%) of the largest libraries were on Foursquare, 23% were on Pinterest, and 8 percent each were on Google+ and Tumblr.
  • The largest libraries were on an average of 3.54 social networks out of the 9 included in the analysis, whereas the smallest libraries averaged less than 1.

Since 2010, the number of libraries that catered to mobile devices has increased dramatically:

  • Three-fourths of the largest libraries, about 3 in 5 libraries serving between 25,000 and 499,999, one-third of libraries serving between 10,000 and 24,999, and 17 percent of the smallest libraries offered some type of mobile-friendly website access. In contrast, in 2010, 12 percent of the largest libraries, 3 percent of libraries serving between 100,000-499,999, and no libraries serving less than 100,000 offered mobile-friendly website access.

In terms of the specific type of mobile access,

  • 3 in 5 of the largest libraries, about half (48%-52%) of libraries serving between 25,000 and 499,999, 1 in 5 (19%) libraries serving between 10,000 and 24,999, and 2 percent of the smallest libraries offered mobile applications (apps);
  • 2 in 5 (41%) of the largest libraries, about one-fourth (23-25%) of libraries serving between 25,000 and 499,999, 1 in 5 libraries serving between 10,000 and 24,000, and 14 percent of the smallest libraries had mobile versions of their sites (i.e., the URL redirected to a mobile version of the website when viewed on a mobile device); however,
  • just 9 libraries used responsive design.

Related information:

 

 

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.1 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.2

Early literacy is “what children know about reading and writing before they actually read and write.”3

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.4

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.

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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 2011,5 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%),6 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 activities7
  • 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 librarians8 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.9

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.

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, 101,755 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.11

“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).12Overall, 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

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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

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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,13 summarizes the CSL BTOP project’s location, equipment, training, and usage data during its first year of implementation (March to December 2011).14

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
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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.”15 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.16

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.17

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.18

• In 2011, more than 90 percent of US public libraries reported that providing employment services is important to their communities.19
• Librarians themselves identified employment services to job-seekers as the most important public access technology service that they offer to their communities.20
• 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.21

In Colorado, 92 percent of public libraries provide access to jobs databases and other job opportunity resources.22 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.23

“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.”24 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.25 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.”26

“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/.

Web 2.0 and Colorado’s Public Libraries: 2010 Update

In spring 2010, the Library Research Service (LRS) repeated its observational study, first conducted in 2008, of U.S. Public Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies.27 The 689 libraries included in the study were selected as a random sample of public libraries across the country, broken down into 5 population groups and including all 114 public libraries in Colorado. LRS staff members visited the libraries’ websites—if they had one—to see what the libraries were doing with their web presences. The second round of the study led not only to comparisons between Colorado libraries and their counterparts across the country, but also to updates of what changed in the two years between studies.

Web Presence, Online Account Access, and Chat Reference
In general, Colorado results mirrored those of libraries nationwide. The percentage of libraries maintaining a website and offering patrons online access to their accounts showed minor increases over 2008 numbers, as the majority of libraries already provided these services. In 2010, at least 9 in 10 Colorado public libraries serving more than 10,000 people had websites and online patron account access – about the same as the percentages nationwide. The smallest Colorado libraries (those serving fewer than 10,000) are noticeably ahead of their peers nationwide in these two areas, with 8 in 10 maintaining a website and 6 in 10 offering online account access, compared to 7 in 10 and less than 5 in 10 (45%), respectively, nationwide. The ability for small Colorado libraries to maintain their own websites is undoubtedly supported by Plinkit, a turnkey website hosting solution managed and maintained centrally in Colorado by the State Library.

Another collaborative effort that has allowed Colorado public libraries to surpass the national average is AskColorado, a statewide chat reference service mananaged by the State Library. At least half of all Colorado public libraries, and all of those serving more than 100,000, provide chat reference – a much higher percentage than libraries nationwide (see Chart 1). At the time of the study only one Colorado library with chat reference did not use AskColorado. The service remains the most common form of online reference for Colorado libraries, more popular even than email.

296_Chart 1

Social Media and RSS Feeds
While some of the older, more basic web technologies such as blogs and email reference appear to have stagnated in rate of adoption, more interactive tools continue to grow in popularity. An excellent example is Facebook, and social media in general. In 2008, just 5 percent of Colorado public libraries were experimenting with any kind of social media, and those efforts were limited to MySpace and Flickr. None had ventured onto Facebook. Two years later, 1 in 3 (34%) had an account, about the same percentage as libraries nationwide. That increased to 3 in 4 libraries serving more than 100,000 and 1 in 2 libraries serving 10,000-24,999 (see Chart 2). Flickr and Twitter are becoming more common as well, but MySpace—once the most popular social media site for libraries—is now the least used. Colorado libraries’ social media presence reflects that of libraries nationally, with Colorado libraries just edging ahead in use of Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube.

296_Chart 2

In addition to social networking sites, a growing number of Colorado libraries are making use of another tool that requires more user participation: RSS feeds. RSS feeds allow library users to sign up for regular announcements or updates of content from their libraries’ websites, including blog posts and new additions to the catalog. More than 1 in 3 (36%) Colorado public libraries use RSS feeds in some way, up from 13 percent in 2008. The greatest growth came in libraries serving 25,000-99,999, from less than 1 in 10 to 1 in 2. All but the largest Colorado libraries are considerably ahead of the national sample in offering RSS feeds.

Overall Results
Disregarding size, at least half of all Colorado public libraries maintain websites that provide online access to patrons’ accounts, a search box, and chat reference services. About a third use RSS feeds or Facebook, but beyond that, implementation of various Web 2.0 technologies drops to just 1 in 4 libraries or less. National estimates follow a similar trajectory, but Colorado libraries maintain a higher percentage of use for all technologies except MySpace and SMS reference. The same is true when considering the percentage of patrons served by libraries using these tools.

The majority of Colorado public library jurisdictions serve communities of fewer than 10,000 people and are less likely than larger libraries to experiment with Web 2.0 tools. As a result, some Web 2.0 technologies were relatively uncommon on library websites overall; nevertheless, they reached a much larger estimated percentage of patrons.28  All but 2 of the technologies included in the study (text reference and MySpace) reach at least 1 in 3 Colorado library patrons. For instance, just 1 in 3 libraries use Facebook, but 2 in 3 Coloradans are served by a library that has a presence on the social networking site (see Chart 3). When looking at the percentage of patrons served, chat reference again presents a noticeable gap between Colorado and the nation. Nearly 9 in 10 (88%) Colorado patrons have access to a library that offers the service – twice the estimated percentage of patrons nationwide (44%).

296_Chart 3

Early Adopters
By rating all libraries on an index of the number of web technologies adopted, LRS staff identified which were “Early Adopters” (i.e., the top 20 percent of each population group from the national sample). A growing number of Colorado libraries are performing better in regard to this measurement; nearly 1 in 10 (9%) scored half the possible points on the index, whereas in 2008 no libraries in the state reached that benchmark. When compared to non-early adopters, Early Adopters demonstrated higher inputs and outputs in areas traditionally measured to indicate library success, such as visits and circulation (see Chart 4). Additionally, Colorado Early Adopters reported having more librarians and staff and higher revenue. In fact, Early Adopters had higher numbers in all but one measure included in the study—print volumes per capita. Although not all of these differences were statistically significant, more were significant in 2010 than in 2008, supporting previous observations of a trend in tech-savvy libraries being more successful. Interestingly, Colorado libraries that were not Early Adopters reported more electronic users and computers per capita than Early Adopters nationwide, indicating that in some areas, all Colorado libraries are ahead of the curve.

296_Chart 4

Conclusion
Since 2008, Colorado public libraries have shown minor increases in their adoption of basic web technologies, such as maintaining a web presence and offering online access to patrons’ accounts. Chat reference remains a popular feature of Colorado library websites, thanks to statewide service AskColorado, but likewise showed relatively small growth. At the same time, use of social media sites and RSS feeds has skyrocketed. While the Colorado results reflected those of the national sample, libraries in the state tended to be ahead of libraries across the country in most areas. A higher percentage of Colorado libraries, compared to the national sample, use each of the technologies included in the study except MySpace and SMS reference. Furthermore, libraries that utilize these tools reach an even greater percentage of patrons than do libraries nationwide. Colorado Early Adopter libraries—those using more web technologies—reported higher numbers for all but one of the measures typically used to indicate library success. For more details, including results from the national sample, see the Closer Look Report U.S. Public Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies, 2010, on the LRS website http://www.lrs.org/public/webtech/.

Computer Access and Traditional Library Services

Computer access is quickly becoming a staple service of public libraries in the United States. Between 2003 and 2007, the number of public-use Internet computers available in public libraries increased 33 percent. This may cause some to question if other, more traditional library services (such as circulation and reference), are falling by the wayside as public libraries focus on providing computer access.

This is not the case—according to national data from 2007, traditional services are not declining. Instead, as the number of public access computers per 5,000 of legal service area population rises, so do library visits, circulation, reference, and program attendance (see chart). This does not necessarily mean that traditional library services increase because access to public computers increases or vice versa, but it does indicate that libraries that have more public-use computers tend to have a higher frequency of traditional services as well.

Per Capita Service Outputs of U.S. Public Libraries by
Number of Public Library Computers per 5,000 Served, 2007
283_Chart 1

Note: U.S. libraries were divided evenly into 4 groups by the number of computers available per 5,000 served.

The data indicates that traditional services are not disappearing as libraries increase the availability of public access computers.  However, it is not clear if traditional services drive the increase in available computers or if more computers attract patrons and in turn, traditional services thrive. Regardless, libraries are obviously not forced to choose between the two.

Correlations
The correlations between the number of computers and each service output discussed reveal that the relationship between them is significant. The two strongest relationships with the number of computers are with program attendance, with a correlation of 0.106, and library visits, with a correlation of 0.097 (see table). It should be mentioned that although all correlations were significant, the strength of the correlations were rather weak in 2007 and considerably lower than an analysis using 2003 data.29 The decline in these correlations could be evidence that computer access in U.S. public libraries has become independent of these other services.

Correlation between Number of Computers and
Library Visits, Circulation, Reference, and Program Attendance

Number of Computers

2003

2007

Library Visits

0.606

0.097

Circulation

0.299

0.064

Reference

0.292

0.048

Program Attendance

n/a30

0.106

Conclusion
Clearly, increased computer access does not come at the cost of other library services. Providing computer access is no longer the “new kid on the block” and is, in fact, expanding to include Wi-Fi connectivity in most public libraries (76.4% nationally31). Computer access should not be viewed as competing with other traditional library services any more than circulation competes with reference or programming. Instead, it seems, computer access has become one of the traditional services.

Public Libraries and Technology
For more information about public libraries and technology, see the U.S. Public Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies Closer Look report at http://www.lrs.org/public/webtech.
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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.

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