More than 1 in 3 students in an academic library survey believe e-books make research easier


With the popularity of e-books in public libraries surging, many academic libraries are still tentatively acquiring e-book collections while debating how they might add to or detract from student research methods. Julie Gilbert and Barbara Fister of Gustavus Adolphus College have published an article in College & Research Libraries that tackles this very question though a survey of 417 students. The aim of their study is to investigate the potential impact of e-books on students reading habits through their current e-book use and their perception of how e-books might alter their reading behaviors in the future.

Even though close to half (42%) of students surveyed already have either e-reader devices or e-reading software on their mobile device or computer, the most prominent use for e-readers was for fiction (84%) and recreational reading rather than research (20%). Perhaps not surprisingly, more than half (56%) of the most frequent visitors to the library said they would be likely to use e-books provided by the library, compared to only a third of those who seldom or never visit the library. This, along with the finding that students who already have e-readers are more likely to use the library for non-research purposes, even for print materials, suggests that those most open to e-books are already the most eager readers.

The survey respondents appeared to be split on their feelings about the ease of e-books. A little more than a third (38%) said e-books would make research easier, almost a third (32%) said e-books would make research more difficult, and nearly the same amount (30%) were unsure. The most cited benefit of e-books was their portability and ease of use, and those who preferred print often did so because it was familiar, as well as easier to flip back and forth between several print books while researching. Preference of e-books was also highly variable depending on the survey respondents’ major. Natural Sciences and Business students were much more likely than those in the Arts and Humanities to embrace research in electronic format.

So, it seems that e-books are gaining ground as a viable format for research to some, but they are still primarily seen as most useful for recreational reading or part of an increasingly diverse mixture of research methods.

You can peruse the full article, available via Open Access by College and Research Libraries, 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.

2013 Public Libraries Survey data now available

Image credit: Public Libraries Survey, IMLS

Image credit: Public Libraries Survey, IMLS

Brand-new national public library data is now available from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Fiscal year 2013 data from the annual Public Libraries Survey has just been added to the IMLS Compare Public Libraries and Search for Public Libraries tools. Try out the compare tool to see how your library stacks up to similar libraries across the country based on characteristics you choose. And the search tool is an easy way to pull together staff, budget, services, and collection information for any public library in the U.S.

Data files for FY2013 should be available soon!

3 in 4 TELL survey respondents said teachers & students have access to current, diverse, & ability-appropriate materials through the library

2015 TELL

Image credit: Colorado Department of Education

New results from the Colorado Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL Colorado) survey are now available! Administered through the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), this biennial survey asks Colorado teachers and administrators about teaching and learning conditions in their school. The 2015 iteration included two new questions about school libraries and librarians:

  • Teachers receive appropriate training and guidance from school library staff to help students to become proficient in 21st century skills.
  • Teachers and students have access to current, diverse and ability-appropriate materials through the library.

About 3 out of 4 (74%) respondents agreed or strongly agreed that teachers and students have access to current, diverse, and ability-appropriate materials through the library. More than half—57%—agreed or strongly agreed that teachers receive appropriate training and guidance from school library staff to help students to become proficient in 21st century skills.

These data help demonstrate the broader role school library services are playing in their schools in Colorado and dovetails with extensive existing research on the impact school libraries have on student achievement.

Review the fact sheet about the 2015 results here and check out your local district’s results here, available if the minimum 50% response rate was reached.

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.

Study finds that high-poverty schools with a certified teacher librarian achieve a 5-year graduation rate of 79%


Image credit: Washington Library Media Association

There’s yet more reason to invest in school library programs! Even as the number of endorsed librarians in today’s schools continues its downward trend, studies are consistently finding that there is no substitute for a quality school library program (You can peruse through research done by LRS and other institutions on this subject here). A new study conducted by the Washington Library Media Association (WLMA) and reported by School Library Journal further corroborates these findings. The study, which drew from 1,486 K-12 public schools across Washington state, concludes that students in schools that have a certified teacher-librarian (CTL) are more likely to perform better on standardized tests and to graduate, regardless of whether they live in an urban, suburban, or rural area, and regardless of the income of their household.

While 85% of students in schools with CTLs graduate in 5 years compared to 79% of students in schools without a CTL, the difference is far more profound in high-poverty schools. In areas where poverty is prevalent, nearly four-fifths (79%) of students in schools that have a CTL graduate in 5 years. This five year graduation rate, however, falls to well under half (43%) of students for schools that do not have a CTL.

While these findings are in line with many other recent studies, the WLMA took their research a step further by creating a method for evaluating the overall quality of library services. The Library Quality Scale (LQS) that they use assigns a score from 0-35 to each program based on the number of hours open, visits per week, the inventory of books and databases, and the number of computers available for instruction. Using this scale, the WLMA discovered that while nearly all of the schools (97%) report having some kind of library facility, minimal resources did not equate to higher performance. Programs that achieved a score over 26, however, had higher student achievement. This suggests that in order to see meaningful impact on student achievement, making an investment in library facilities and staff is critical.

Check out the full report from the WLMA 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.

52% of U.S. public libraries have at least one librarian on staff with an ALA-MLS degree

PLS FY2012_print release

Image credit: IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently sent print copies of its Public Libraries in the United States Report for Fiscal Year 2012 to all state libraries. This is the final result of the statistics and data gathered by state libraries into the Public Libraries Survey (PLS), and here in Colorado through the Public Library Annual Report (PLAR) which wrapped up data collection for 2014 earlier this spring.

We’ve shared some highlights with you earlier this year, but these data are too rich not to share more! Here are a few more stats that help show some interesting relationships between library services:

  • Having e-books in the library collection resulted in an average increase of 1.5 visits per capita (and libraries with e-books had significantly higher rates of circulation per capita than those without)
  • For each $1 spent on electronic materials per capita, 1 more item circulated for every 2 people in the library’s legal service area
  • The number of public access Internet computers has gone up 76% in the past 10 years
  • Funding from local governments has gone up by 7% in the past 10 years
  • Suburban (7.1) and rural (6.7) libraries had higher visit rates per capita than libraries in cities (5.6) or towns (6.1)
  • Circulation per capita was significantly higher (9.3) in libraries serving fewer than 2,500 people than in larger libraries

You can check out the Public Libraries in the United States Report for Fiscal Year 12 in full here. And, preliminary data for Colorado’s 2014 PLAR is available now in our interactive tool.

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.

ALA reports close to two-thirds of academic libraries have made changes to their space in the last 3 years


Recently, we posted results from ALA’s 2015 State of America’s Libraries Report about how public libraries are transforming into more digitally inclusive environments in order to better serve the needs of current and future patrons. Public libraries are not the only kind of library undergoing major transformations, however.

ALA’s assessment of academic libraries found that although few libraries have seen increases in funding, many budgets have been re-allocated towards repurposing library space, migrating collections, and increasing staff focus on digital resources. Almost two-thirds (63%) of academic libraries responded that they have found new ways to provide space in the last 3 years, including writing/tutoring centers, quiet study areas, and technology spaces.

These transformational changes seem to have only just begun, too. The academic libraries also reported whether or not they planned on major changes to their library space in the next 5 years, and found that almost four-fifths (79%) of doctoral/research institutions were planning such changes, along with just over two-thirds (69%) of comprehensive institutions, just under two-thirds (65%) of baccalaureate schools, and close to half (45%) of associate-granting institutions.

While academic libraries undergoing major increases or changes in space are hoping for significant increases in usage, initial responses indicate that the libraries are still considered extremely valuable to the academic community. Well over half (59%) of chief academic officers rated library resources as “very effective” – achieving a higher rating than many other campus resources. According to the ALA report, it appears that many academic libraries are well on their way to adjusting to shifting information environments.

Want to know more? Check out the full report detailing school, academic, and public library trends 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.

Low-income households with children are 4X more likely to lack broadband in the home than their higher income counterparts


Image credit: Pew Research

Discussions about the digital divide often focus on technology training for adults and career readiness, but as education shifts its focus towards online resources and learning environments, a major concern is the “homework gap” experienced by many school-age children. The “homework gap” refers to the disadvantages faced by children in households that lack access to broadband services.

An analysis of this broadband “homework gap” by Pew Research Center reveals that approximately 5 million American households with children do not have broadband access. Even more revealing is the fact that households without broadband are predominately black, Hispanic, and low income. Households with children that have an income below $50,000 are 4 times more likely to lack a high-speed internet connection than those above that income marker, and among low-income households with children, blacks and Hispanics are 10 percentage points less likely to have broadband access at home than their white counterparts.

While the FCC’s Lifeline Program is working to revamp their telephone subscription subsidy program so that it would include broadband services, it’s not yet clear how much this would hike up costs and how many of those 5 million households would receive assistance. For the foreseeable future, public libraries are extremely important in helping children and families to close that gap by providing them with access to online educational resources. Providing internet access for school-age children not only affects their ability to get homework done today, but also has bearing on the education and job opportunities available to them in the future.

Read the Pew Research Center’s full analysis of the broadband “homework gap” 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.

Public libraries are making great strides in digital inclusion, with nearly all offering technology training, among other services


In recent years, librarians and communities have been successfully transforming the image and roles of their local libraries. No longer just an outlet for books, over two-thirds of Americans see libraries as important for the ways in which they improve community life, serve as advocates for literacy and reading, and provide avenues for individual success.

According to ALA’s 2015 State of America’s Libraries Report, one significant way that public libraries are achieving these goals is through technology and digital resource access. In striving for a digitally inclusive society, public libraries have made great strides in ensuring that digital content and literacy instruction is within the reach of everyone. For example, almost all U.S. public libraries offer all of the following services: free wireless internet access (97%), technology training (98%), education and learning programs (99%), and summer reading programs (98%). In addition to this, four-fifths (80%) offer programs that improve job application and interviewing skills, and three-fourths also provide community, civic engagement, or e-government programs.

Public libraries are deploying their services to prepare for the digital present and future, and to ensure the success of the people in their communities in all aspects of their life. While digital literacy initiatives are increasingly important, however, just a little more than a third (38%) of state libraries indicated specific goals related to these initiatives. Moving forward, it is important that all public libraries clearly give voice to how their services contribute to and enhance the goals of digital inclusion and information literacy.

Read the full report here to find out more about current issues and trends in public, school, and academic libraries.

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.

Half of public library respondents report internet connectivity speeds of more than 10 Mbps

Digital Inclusion_speed

Image credit: Digital Inclusion Survey

We’ve shared the Digital Inclusion Survey with you before, and now new research results dive into data specifically about broadband speeds in public libraries. More than 2,200 public libraries from 49 states reported upload and download speeds at their libraries for wired and Wi-Fi connections. City libraries reported median download speeds of 30 Mbps (wired) and 13 Mbps (Wi-Fi), while rural libraries reported medians of 9 Mbps (wired) and 6 Mbps (Wi-Fi).

According to the most recent data, about half (49.8%) of all libraries reported download speeds of more than 10 Mbps, up from just 18% that had achieved those speeds in 2009. The percentage of libraries with the slowest public Internet speeds of 1.5 Mbps or less dropped to 1 in 10 in 2013 from 42.2% in 2009. While the strides being made are exciting, the reality is that just 2% of public libraries meet national benchmarks set by the Federal Communications Commission for minimum speeds serving smaller communities (100 Mbps) and more than 50,000 people (1 Gbps).

Technical issues also abound, as might be expected when it comes to Internet connectivity speeds. Captured speeds—both at individual user’s devices and for uploads—lag behind subscribed network speeds. Peak use times meant reduced speeds, particularly for city libraries which saw direct download speeds drop 69% during heavy usage when compared to light usage periods.

Read the full report, including additional breakdowns by locale and connection type, here. This broadband discussion is even more timely considering Pew’s recent analysis of Census data about broadband access among households with children and the “homework gap” and what this information might mean for libraries. We’ll bring you more on that research soon.

 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.

Pew study shows almost a quarter of adults change their technology behaviors because of surveillance programs


Image credit: Pew Research


In December, we posted about a Pew Research Center study that found that the more Americans know about government surveillance programs, the more they are concerned about their own data security. In a follow-up report, Pew asked the 475 adults (87%) who had heard at least a little about the programs how this knowledge has changed their technology behaviors.

They found that at least some, but not an overwhelming amount, are altering their strategies when it comes to information and communication technologies. Almost one-fifth (18%) changed how they use their email accounts, which was the most common behavioral modification asked about. Other common ways of responding to insecurities about data included changing how they use search engines, social media, cell phones, and mobile apps.

Overall, close to a quarter (22%) of those surveyed has changed their technology behaviors at least somewhat. Most changes were relatively simple, such as creating a more complex password and reworking privacy settings. But Pew’s findings indicate that not all of those aware of surveillance programs actually know how to protect their own information, since over half (54%) think it would be at least “somewhat difficult” to utilize tools and strategies for data security.

The survey also reveals that American adults are worried not only about government surveillance but also about criminals and systematic hacking threats. In our information driven culture, knowledge about how to properly protect our personal data becomes more important every day.

Find out more about this report and others in the series 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.

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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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