More than two-thirds of Americans are wielding smartphones today, Pew finds


After taking a look around you, it will likely come as no surprise that smartphone ownership has been skyrocketing in recent years. Pew Research conducted a technology device ownership survey this year, and found that more than two-thirds (68%) of Americans now own smartphones, a 35% increase since 2011. Tablets are the only other device that saw a strong increase in ownership – almost half (45%) of U.S. adults own a tablet computer today, compared to just 3% in 2010.

What’s more, of the 1,907 U.S. adults that were surveyed, it was found that this sharp increase in smartphone and tablet ownership was accompanied by steady or even declining ownership in many other digital devices. For example, after years of steadily increasing ownership, e-book devices have begun to decline in popularity, with only one-fifth (19%) of U.S. adults owning one in 2015. Meanwhile, the ownership of MP3 players, game consoles, and desktops and laptops have stagnated in recent years. Among U.S. adults under 30, though, the ownership of a desktop or laptop has declined by 11% since 2010.

What does this information mean for libraries and library services? Pew suggests in its report that the boom of smartphone ownership may correspond to a decline or stagnation in other device ownership as more people use smartphones and tablets as a primary source for a variety of their information needs. These trends mean that it will likely be very important for libraries to continue improving their mobile websites and services so that patrons can easily access resources and information about services from the devices they are most likely to use to stay connected.

Check out all of the device ownership trends from Pew here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Congratulations to the 7 Colorado Star Libraries for 2015!


Image credit: Library Journal

7 libraries in Colorado have been named Star Libraries by the 2015 Library Journal Index of Public Library Service. Colorado ranks 11th out of 41 states with star libraries, and is tied with three other states (Indiana, Alabama, and Missouri) that also have 7 star libraries. The 7 star libraries in Colorado are:

  • Arapahoe Library District
  • Denver Public Library
  • Douglas County Libraries
  • Holyoke/Heginbotham Library
  • La Veta Regional Library District
  • Limon Memorial Library
  • San Miguel Library District #1 (Telluride)

Although a few libraries that were Colorado star libraries last year are no longer represented on the list, Holyoke/Higenbotham is a new addition to the star library cohort this year.

The LJ Index, which is used to determine star libraries around the country, is a measure that compares public libraries with others that have similar expenditures based on the output measures of circulation, library visits, program attendance, and public internet computer use. Output measures (as opposed to other measures used for library assessment, inputs and outcomes), are quantifiable measures of various services that the library renders. These outputs are based on data provided by public libraries in the IMLS Public Library Survey.

The kinds of outputs measured by the LJ Index have begun and will continue to change over the next several years. For example, the 2015 star library ratings are the first to include e-circulation as part of its measures, and the 2016 ratings will be the first to account for all reference transactions, including virtual. This is an attempt to control for the fact that many library visits and services today are virtual as opposed to physical. Another factor that will affect the star library ratings in the coming years is increasing competition; more libraries than ever before, a whopping 7,663, were scored on the LJ Index in 2015.

This year’s report also includes a handy how-to on DIY LJ Index projects, so you can figure out how to leverage the index data to evaluate how your library stacks up against its peers. Whether or not your library was named a star library this year, you can find all of the data here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.


RIPL 2016 Facilitator Opportunity


Are you interested in attending the 2016 Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL)? Do you have facilitation skills that you want to use at RIPL?

We will be selecting up to 10 RIPL participants to serve as facilitators during the institute.  Facilitators should…

  • already be planning to participate in RIPL because of their interest in strengthening their skills in data and evaluation,
  • have experience facilitating small group activities and discussions, and
  • be committed to encouraging participant involvement in group activities and discussions and fostering connections among participants, instructors, and staff.

Prior experience with data and evaluation is a bonus, but is not required.


RIPL is designed to be an immersive and highly participatory learning experience, and RIPL facilitators play a vital role in insuring that participants are actively engaged in the hands-on activities and discussions that occur throughout the institute. Facilitators are assigned to groups of 6-7 participants, and they sit with their groups during general sessions and some meals to facilitate group work. Groups change several times during the institute, so facilitators will work with 2-3 groups across the 3-day event.

RIPL facilitators have the full participant experience. Facilitators will participate in the same sessions as everyone else, be able to choose which breakouts to attend, etc. The only difference is that facilitators will have some added benefits and responsibilities, as described below.

Facilitator Benefits:

Benefits to facilitators include:

  • Reduced registration fee: $1,165 (20% discount). This fee includes the curriculum, three nights lodging, and most meals.
  • Guaranteed spot at RIPL 2016.
  • Enhanced experience because of the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the institute design and curriculum.

 Facilitator Responsibilities:

Pre-institute responsibilities include the following:

  • Attending two 60 minute pre-institute webinars to learn more about the facilitator role and to become familiar with the group work that instructors have planned.
  • Reviewing any discussion guides, activity instructions, etc. that instructors provide ahead of time.

During RIPL, facilitators are responsible for:

  • Sitting with their assigned group (6-7 participants) during general sessions and some meals and facilitating discussions, learning activities, etc.
  • Connecting the members of their group with RIPL instructors/staff if they have questions or want to discuss topics that they aren’t able to address.
  • Connecting with other facilitators at touch points in the institute as necessary.
  • Providing feedback at the end of the institute about their facilitation experience.

How to Apply:

 To be considered for a facilitator position, you must submit an application by 6:00 pm MST on Friday, December 11, 2015. Learn more about the application process and access the online application form here. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance status before the end of December.

The 2014-15 School Library Survey data is now available


The 2014-15 Colorado School Library Survey data has been posted at From this page, you can view individual school library profiles for all schools that completed the survey as well as statewide estimates and benchmarks for selected statistics, and use our interactive tool to explore the data in more depth. There is also a Fast Facts available that presents highlights from the 2014-15 results. Many thanks to all of the Colorado schools who participated in the survey!

LJ reports that more than four-fifths of new library graduates are employed full time, up 19% from 2013


Image credit: Library Journal

Library Journal has released the findings from their 2015 Placement & Salaries Survey, which tracks yearly trends in employment among newly graduated MLIS students. In 2014, out of 4,331 estimated library school graduates, 32% participated in Library Journal’s survey. The results show an overall increase in full-time employment among new graduates, as well as steadily increasing salaries, though many new librarians are frustrated at the rigor of the application process and the number of available entry-level positions that actually require an MLIS degree.

The number of new library school graduates with full-time employment increased from 70% in 2013 to 83% in 2014. What’s more, those new graduates are earning even more starting off; starting salaries increased 2.9% from 2013, to $46,987. Women’s salaries increased slightly more than men’s as well, which represents a modest gain in closing the gender wage gap, though men continue to earn 14.9% more than women.

Of course, all regions and job titles are not experiencing these trends equally. The Pacific reported the highest average salaries, while the Southeast had the lowest, and the Northeast and Midwest were close to the average. These differences did, however, correspond closely to standard cost of living differences. One shift across the board is the fact that the highest paid positions are increasingly ones with non-traditional titles – positions that contain phrases such as “software developer,” “usability designer,” “data analyst,” etc. Meanwhile, many new graduates expressed frustration that some other full-time positions did not appear to require an MLIS at all

You can peruse all of Library Journal’s data on salaries and placement here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Research Institute for Public Libraries – Scholarship Opportunity for Coloradans


The Colorado State Library is offering up to 6 full scholarships to the Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) in fall 2016. This national event, hosted by the Colorado State Library and CLiC, will offer three days of hands-on, intensive workshops about:

  • Evaluation design and implementation
  • Data collection and use for strategic planning
  • Measures for reporting library impact
  • Tips for aligning research efforts with national initiatives such as Edge Benchmarks, the Impact Survey, and Project Outcome

The ideal candidate for this scholarship is:

  • Interested in getting started using data for savvy and strategic planning.
  • Looking for both inspiration and instruction in a hands-on, participatory environment.
  • Seeking to learn about outcomes and how to measure library impact.
  • Committed to leading his/her organization in making data-based decisions.
  • Eager to develop a peer network to support research and evaluation efforts.

To be eligible for a scholarship, you must be:

a) employed by a public library in Colorado OR
b) a Colorado resident either enrolled in a Master’s in Library and Information Science (MLIS) program or a 2016 MLIS graduate at the time of the institute (this opportunity is most appropriate for students intending to work in public libraries)

Special consideration will be given to applicants working in small or rural libraries and/or those working with underserved populations. However, staff working in any Colorado public library and/or Colorado residents enrolled in an MLIS program are encouraged to apply for scholarships.

For more information and to apply, please see Scholarship applications are due by 5 PM on Friday, November 13, 2015.

Join us at CAL for “Data Visualization for the Rest of Us: A Beginner’s Guide”


Will you be at the CAL Conference on Friday? If so, we hope you will join us for:

Data Visualization for the Rest of Us: A Beginner’s Guide

Friday, October 23, 10:30 AM-12:15 PM, Aspen Daisy

You don’t have to be a graphic designer to present your library statistics in a way that effectively communicates value. In this session, straight from the 2015 Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL), you’ll learn quick and easy tips for displaying your statistics in a way that tells a powerful story about your library, whether your data visualization aspirations consist of adding a few Excel charts to a board report or designing a complex infographic for your website. As part of this session, several free and/or low-cost infographic creation software tools will be demonstrated.

The Digital Inclusion Survey finds that 9 out of 10 public libraries offer general Internet usage training


Image credit: Digital Inclusion Survey

The Digital Inclusion Survey recently released new data and issue briefs that deal with a wide range of technology based services in public libraries, from access to e-government. The survey tracks trends and advances in the “access, adoption, and application” of digital resources in their effort to promote the importance of equitable technology access to the future of communities.

Their issue brief on digital literacy reports that 9 out of 10 public libraries in the U.S. (90%) at least offer training in general Internet usage. In fact, there is little gap in the number of libraries that provide basic technology services in suburban areas (93%) and those that do so in rural areas (87%).

Public libraries today have an average of 19 public access computers (including laptops), and many trainings now include workforce development and mobile technologies. Overwhelmingly though, libraries favor informal point-of-use interactions – four-fifths (79%) of libraries indicate they use this method, compared to the 39% that offer formal trainings.

Yet public libraries are not without challenges in providing digital literacy service to their communities. A lack of infrastructure, funding, and staff expertise can all be major hurdles. For example, the Digital Inclusion Survey found a direct association between libraries that had undergone major renovations in the past year (21% of public libraries) and their ability to provide technology training. Attention to the space of the library itself, it seems, may be an indicator of the energy and assets put into emerging digital services.

You can access all of the Digital Inclusion Survey’s 2015 issue briefs here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.


Number of materials challenges in Colorado public libraries continues slow decline, falling by 3% since 2013


As part of our yearly investigation into the materials that are challenged in public libraries in Colorado, our latest Fast Facts delves into detail concerning the format, audience, reason, and resolution of the materials challenges that were reported in the 2014 Public Library Annual Report. Information provided about these challenges help us to gauge the climate of intellectual freedom in Colorado public libraries over time.

So how did Colorado libraries fare in 2014? The total number of challenges over the years continues its overall downward trend. This trend has recently leveled out somewhat, however, since the number of challenges decreased by only 3% from 2013 to 2014. Several factors remained consistent from previous years, including the most common audience for challenged materials, adults, which represented the audience for three-quarters (76%) of challenges in 2014. There was also little change in the manner in which challenges were handled by the library; for the majority of challenges, no changes were made at all, meaning that the items were not reclassified, moved, or removed. While “sexually explicit” and “violence” remained two of the most cited reasons for the challenge, “other,” non-categorized reasons continue to rise.

An interesting shift taking place is the most common format of challenged materials. In 2014, videos eclipsed books as the most challenged format, at 36% of the total challenges. Book and computer challenges each represented another third (32%) of the challenges. Yet the percent of challenges to books has declined by more than a third (36%) since 2013. The cause of these changes is not clear, but could be related to an increased diversity in the kinds of formats offered by public libraries, and/or changes in how formats are perceived by individuals.

Take a look at all of the data and trends from 2014 in the full Colorado Public Libraries Challenges Fast Facts report.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Research Institute for Public Libraries 2016


Are you…

… a public librarian, administrator, or other staff interested in getting started using data for savvy and strategic planning?

… looking for both inspiration and instruction in a hands-on, participatory environment?

… seeking to learn about outcomes and how to measure library impact?

… committed to leading your organization in making data-based decisions?

…eager to develop a peer network  to support your research and evaluation efforts?

Launched in 2015, the Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) brings together people from across the country (rural, suburban, and urban public libraries) for an intensive, participatory learning experience. Offered by the Colorado State Library and the Colorado Library Consortium, this year’s institute will take place September 30-October 3, 2016 in Denver, CO. Participants will learn about topics such as:

  • designing outcome-based evaluation of programs and services
  • assessing the needs of your community
  • techniques for tracking public library data and using these data for planning, management, and proving worth to your community
  • using data and stories to demonstrate library impact
  • aligning research efforts with national initiatives such as Edge Benchmarks, the Impact Survey, and Project Outcome

 Mark your calendar!

 Enrollment opens January 26, 2016 – and only 100 participants will take part in this immersive learning experience.

Find out more on the RIPL website.

If your organization would like to be a sponsor, please contact Elizabeth Kelsen Huber at the Colorado Library Consortium.

Here is what 2015 participants had to say about RIPL:

“This was one of the best training situations I’ve attended. It was laid out in a way that promoted optimal learning while still giving opportunities for networking & socializing. Great job!”

 “The curriculum & speakers were so well organized around the overall RIPL themes. It felt like a course in library data instead of individual conference sessions.”

 “…This was, by far, the best conference I’ve ever attended and I think part of that was the fact that it was so focused on one area – we had the time to delve into the various aspects of that, as well as get to know one another and work as a team. I look forward to applying what I learned within my organization.”

 “RIPL was an incredible experience. I learned so much and feel like I came back equipped with new knowledge and skills to implement some relevant data collection and evaluation practices at our library organization.”

 Questions about RIPL? Please contact us.

Want to connect with others who are interested in public library research and evaluation? Join PL-EVAL, a listserv where you can ask questions, share ideas, and learn from experiences across the field.

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  • Public Library Statistics & Profiles
    Dive into annual statistics from the Colorado Public Library Annual Report using our interactive tool, results tailored to trustees, and state totals and averages.
  • School Library Impact Studies
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    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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