News

Results from the 60-Second Survey: Privatization of Public Libraries

For the past month, library staff have weighed in on our survey about the privatization of public libraries.  More than 2,500 people from every state and 15 countries responded, making this our most popular 60-Second Survey yet.  The nearly 1,500 comments we received with additional thoughts on privatizing the management of public libraries made it even more clear that this is a topic of great interest to library professionals and other stakeholders.

Given an either-or choice, survey respondents overwhelmingly sided with public sector management, with 86% agreeing with a statement that management should remain in the public sector so that profit does not become libraries’ primary objective.  The other 14% agreed that management should be privatized if it means that libraries can do a better job of providing services and materials to patrons at lower costs.

Should management of public libraries be privatized if it means lowering costs, or remain in the public sector so that profit doesn’t become libraries’ primary objective?

Survey respondents identified whether they thought public or private sector management was more likely – or equally likely – to achieve a list of outcomes for public libraries.  Public sector management scored the highest, by far, on all factors but two:  reducing operating costs and making library operations more efficient.  In these areas, respondents were closely split among the three answer choices, with around 1 in 3 voting for each (the public sector, the private sector, or both as equally likely to achieve these outcomes).

What type of management is more likely to achieve the following outcomes in public libraries?

At least 3 in 4 respondents identified public sector management as the best way to improve the quality of library services, increase the relevance of libraries’ collections, employ qualified staff to meet community needs, and protect patron privacy.  Public sector management drew even more support – from nearly 9 out of 10 respondents (88%) – when they considered the library’s ability to serve all the members of its community and the strength of the library’s connection to the community it serves.

What type of management is more likely to achieve the following outcomes in public libraries?

More than half (53%) the respondents reported that a public library should be run like a public service rather than a business, but almost as many (42%) said it should be run like both.  Just 2 percent thought that a public library should be run like a business.

Should a public library be run like a public service or a business?


Eight in 10 (82%) respondents thought that privatization would have a negative impact on library staff’s job security and benefits or retirement plans.  While the majority (66%) thought the negative impact would also extend to job prospects for degreed librarians, a higher percentage were unsure of the potential impact (17%) or thought privatization would have no impact on job prospects (9%).

Stay tuned for a more in-depth report of survey results in an upcoming Fast Facts.  Until then, we’d love to hear your thoughts so far – please leave comments below!

~ Jamie H.

AL Publishes Article: Booking to the Future

American Libraries will be publishing Jamie Helgren’s (DU-LRS Research Fellow) article on the Future of the Book in their January/February issue. See the article, “Booking to the Future” online now at: http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/features/11302010/booking-future

This article is based on the LRS 60-Second Survey: The Future of the Book conducted earlier this year. Several LRS staff members contributed to the analysis of the data and you can see more about the survey results on the LRS blog and in two Fast Facts issues.

 ~Nicolle

1/5/11 UPDATE
Jamie’s is the cover article for the Jan/Feb issue of  American Libraries. Browse the issue and read the article at:  http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/e8e0bcae#/e8e0bcae/1

School Librarians’ Contributions to Student Achievement Continue

The 3rd Colorado Impact Study supports the findings of other studies on the relationship between school libraries and student achievement. For a quick look at the findings, check out these two Fast Facts:
Increased Library Staff Links to Higher CSAP Scores
Endorsed Librarian Positions in Colorado Public Schools Trending Downward

For more on the school library impact studies, including video and podcast interviews with researcher Keith Curry Lance and links to other studies, visit our School Impact Studies Resource page at http://www.lrs.org/impact.php.

~Lisa

Privatization Survey Update: Help Us Represent the Opinions of Library Staff Across the US

So far, we’ve had a great response to our 60-Second Survey on privatization! However, our geographic representation is a bit skewed. Nearly three-fourths of our respondents come from just 9 states–those that are colored in the map above. In contrast, the remaining states–those in white–are each represented by less than 2% of the survey respondents. Do you live in a white state or another country? If so, we need your help! Please take a minute to complete the survey so that the results will more accurately represent the opinions of library staff across the United States as well as internationally (as of now, 2.5% of our respondents are international).

Edited to add: Thank you for your interest! The survey is now closed. Preliminary results will be posted to the blog in December.

~Linda

Deadline for Completing the 2010-11 Colorado School Library Survey is Nov. 30

The deadline for completing the 2010-11 Colorado School Library Survey is November 30, 2010. Participation by all public schools in Colorado is vital! The results of the survey provide library professionals with important information for planning, evaluating, and budgeting. If you have not yet responded to the survey, it can be accessed at: http://www.lrs.org/slsurvey. For questions regarding the survey, or to obtain your username and password, feel free to call Library Research Service at 303-866-6900 or email lrs@lrs.org.

~Linda

New 60-Second Survey: Privatization of Public Libraries

Recently, the New York Times published an article about the privatization of public libraries. This article described the trend in some communities to turn over the management of public libraries to private organizations. In response to this article, library staff engaged in spirited online discussions about whether libraries should be privatized. Taking notice of these discussions, Library Research Service at the Colorado State Library has launched a new 60-Second Survey to get your opinions about privatization. Do you think privatization is a good option for libraries? How would it impact library collections, services, staff, and patrons? You tell us.

Edited to add: Thank you for your interest! The survey is now closed. Preliminary results will be posted to the blog in December.

~Linda

Deadline for Completing the 2010-11 Colorado School Library Survey Has Been Extended

The deadline for completing the 2010-11 Colorado School Library Survey has been extended to November 30, 2010. Participation by all public school libraries is vital! If you have not yet responded to the survey, it can be accessed at http://www.lrs.org/slsurvey. The data gathered in the annual school library survey provides library professionals with important information for planning, evaluating, and budgeting. For questions regarding the survey, or to obtain your username and password, feel free to call Library Research Service at 303-866-6900 or email lrs@lrs.org to get your information.

~Linda

Bob Edwards Interviews Keith About School Libraries

Listen to Keith’s latest interview about the impact of school libraries and librarians on student achievement. The interview is part three in a series of reports Bob Edwards has done about libraries. This is a great interview to share with non-librarians that want (or need) to know more about the vital role of school librarians in the 21st Century learning environment.

Hear the podcast “The State of American libraries, Part 3” at: http://podcast.com/episode/64457129/32910/  

Or on iTunes at:  http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/bob-edwards-weekend/id268584710

~Nicolle

Eight CO Public Libraries Listed in LJ Index of Star Libraries

Colorado’s “star” libraries include:

Fleming Community Library
Denver Public Library
San Miguel Library District # 1/Telluride
Swink School/Public Library
La Veta Regional Library District
Douglas County Libraries
Ridgway Library District
Pitkin County Library

 “The LJ Index of Public Library Service 2010, Library Journal’s national rating of public libraries, identifies 258 “star” libraries. Created by Ray Lyons and Keith Curry Lance, and based on 2008 data from the IMLS, it rates 7,407 public libraries. The top libraries in each group get five, four, or three stars. All included libraries, stars or not, can use their scores to learn from their peers, expand service to their communities, and advocate for support.” More at: http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/articlereview/886935-457/americas_star_libraries_2010_top-rated.html.csp

~Nicolle

LRS.org, Nicolle Steffen Win Awards at the 2010 CAL Conference

LRS and its director, Nicolle Steffen, won awards at this past weekend’s annual Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL) Conference. LRS.org, which provides dynamic, on-demand access to statistics for public, school, and academic libraries in Colorado, received the Library Advocate Award. This award recognizes far-reaching, sustained contributions to the promotion and/or support of library and information services to the state of Colorado. Nicolle received the CAL President’s Award for providing superior service and support to the organization in the past year in her position as treasurer.

A number of past and present LRS staff attended the awards banquet, including Nicolle Steffen, Keith Lance, Rochelle Logan, Zeth Lietzau, Jennifer French, Dave Hodgins, Linda Hofschire, and Jamie Helgren.

~Linda

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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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