News

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Library Journal reports that public library materials budgets are up by 3%, despite stagnant circulation

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Image credit: Library Journal

Library Journal released its Materials Survey for 2015, a yearly survey that has gathered nationwide data on materials budgets and circulation from public libraries since 1998. They found that across all libraries that completed the survey, materials budgets are up 3%, averaging $807,000 overall for the year.

What’s more revealing about the changing face of public library materials, though, are the circulation statistics. For the past few years, electronic media formats have seen an explosion in circulation numbers. Electronic media now makes up, on average, nearly a quarter (24%) of a public library’s materials budget, and the circulation of downloadable audio, and downloadable movies in particular (with an astounding 50% increase in circulation), are advancing at a sprint. E-books, Audiobooks, and DVD/Blu-Ray, however, still remain the most acquired and circulated non-print media.

Despite the diversification of circulating materials, though, most of the public libraries surveyed saw overall circulation volume remain flat or decline. Only one third of respondents reported an increase in circulation in the past year, and the highest growth was seen in libraries that serve populations under 10,000, where circulation grew by an average of 2.5%. In previous surveys, overall circulation in public libraries had been showing slow but steady growth since 2012, so hopefully this year’s numbers represent an isolated setback rather than an emerging trend.

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 finds immigrant Hispanics are 3X as likely as Whites to rate library services beyond book lending as important

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Image credit: Pew Research

In a study just released by Pew Research Center, a survey of 6,224 Americans, including 739 Hispanics, found that immigrant Hispanics tend to value library services more highly than other demographic groups, despite the fact that they are less likely to have visited a public library or to indicate that accessing a library would be “very easy.” Just 60% of immigrant Hispanics report having visited a library or bookmobile at some point, while at least four-fifths (80%) of U.S. born Latinos, whites, and blacks reported the same.

For both U.S. born and immigrant Latinos, though, public library services are rated very highly. Immigrant Hispanics in particular are 3 times as likely to rate services beyond book lending as important. Services rated the highest by Latinos include help finding and applying for a job and help applying for government programs, permits or licenses. Though Hispanics overall tend to use the library less, they are just as likely (65%) as whites and blacks (63% and 64%, respectively) to say that their library closing would have a major impact on their community.

Pew notes that one possible barrier to access and use among Hispanics, especially those that are first-generation immigrants, is language. Pew’s positive findings about Hispanics’ attitudes toward public libraries underlines the need to continue advocating for Latino populations and opening up avenues of access. The fact that Hispanic library users are disproportionately young compared with other demographic groups – nearly two-fifths (39%) are 16-29 years old – means that public libraries have the opportunity to foster many life-long learners among all Latino groups.

Want to know more? You can read Pew’s full report on public libraries and Hispanics 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.

Join us at the Pueblo CLiC Workshops!

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LRS staff will be partnering with staff from public and academic libraries as well as CLiC to present at 2 sessions at the CLiC workshops in Pueblo:

Colorado Library Websites and Social Media: What’s #Trending Now?
Monday, April 6, 9:30-10:45
Linda Hofschire & Dave Hodgins, Colorado State Library; Midori Clark, Pueblo City-County Library District; Cathalina Fontenelle & Vivienne Houghton, CU Health Sciences Library
Room: Ballroom Central

Facebook, Instagram, mobile design, virtual reference…Website features and social media choices abound for today’s libraries, but are you curious about how your library compares to the rest of the Colorado academic and public library community? Come to this session to learn about Library Research Service’s (LRS) biennial study where we’ve analyzed every—yes, every!—Colorado public library website for features that enable interactivity with patrons or enhance usability. New for 2014, we added all of Colorado’s academic libraries to the mix. We’ll share the highlights of our latest findings and major trends we’ve found since we kicked off the study in 2008. And there’s more! Staff from Pueblo City-County Library District and CU Health Sciences Library will share their website design and social media strategies, best practices, and lessons learned so you can go back to your library armed with the data and tools you need to bring your website and social media into the 21st century.

Who are the People in Your Neighborhood? Community Needs Assessment 101

Monday, April 6, 1:15-2:30
Linda Hofschire & Meghan Wanucha, Library Research Service; Kellie Cannon, Denver Public Library; and Elizabeth Kelsen Huber, CLiC
Room: ASG Chambers

Who does your public library serve? What challenges do they face? What are their needs and interests? What existing resources—such as nonprofits and government agencies—support your community? Join us to learn how to gather this information and use it to target and tailor library resources and services. We’ll cover approaches ranging from analyzing demographic data and surveying your community to more outside-the-box methods. And, we’ll feature homegrown examples like the Douglas County Libraries Community Reference Project, which embeds librarians in local organizations to learn about the needs and goals of their community, and the Denver Public Library’s Teen Asset Mapping Project, which used interviews with community organizations to discover existing resources for Denver teens and how to refine its services to fit into that landscape.

We hope to see you in Pueblo!

Library Journal survey finds that 73% of public libraries saw overall increase in operating budgets in 2014

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Image credit: Library Journal

After years of generally stagnant budgets for libraries, the numbers public libraries are reporting from 2014 reveal the continuation of an exciting upward trend. A total of 416 libraries across the country responded to Library Journal’s Budget Survey, and nearly three-fourths (73%) saw an overall increase in their operating budget. That’s a 13% increase from the proportion of public libraries claiming an increase just two years ago.

Not all of the news from this past year was completely positive – many libraries saw very narrow margins of victory, some libraries saw persistent budget decreases, and federal funding remained stagnant. And while materials budgets unfortunately aren’t showing much upward growth, the survey did reveal good news all around for library workers.

A large majority (81%) of libraries were able to secure a higher budget for salaries and personnel. However, there were some obvious discrepancies between small, rural libraries, many of which saw decreases in this area, and libraries serving much larger populations. Libraries serving half a million to a million people were the most likely to see increases in salary and personnel budgets (59%), and more than a third (39%) of libraries that serve over a million people received an increased budget for library workers. The increased popularity of programming, as well as better staffing and salaries, reflects a growing recognition of the importance of people to the future success and growth of public libraries.

You can check out all of the 2014 results and budget data collected by Library Journal 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

In 2013-2014, 1 in 4 Colorado public schools had an endorsed librarian

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How many endorsed school librarians and other library staff are in Colorado? How many Colorado public schools have any type of library staffing? These answers change depending on a variety of factors: position (endorsed librarian or other staff), grade level, school setting (Denver Metro, rural, etc.), and school size. Based on Colorado Department of Education school staffing data, there were a total of 404 FTE endorsed librarians and 928 FTE library staff in Colorado K-12 public schools in 2013-2014. About 2 in 3 Colorado public schools had some type of library staffing in 2013-2014, but only 1 in 4 had an endorsed librarian. To learn more about school library staffing in Colorado, check our our new Fast Facts. Also be sure to check out our school library impact infographic, which demonstrates the impact of school libraries on student achievement.

Summer reading programs make a difference for Colorado families

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Each year, Colorado public libraries offer engaging summer reading programs to encourage children and teens to read for fun and to prevent summer learning loss. In summer 2014, the Colorado State Library invited Colorado public libraries to ask parents in their communities to help evaluate the effectiveness of these programs by completing a survey. Sixteen libraries chose to participate, and 672 parents/caregivers completed the survey. About half of all respondents reported that their children’s enjoyment of reading, reading skills, and reading by choice increased after participating in summer reading. These outcomes were even more prevalent among families participating in summer reading for the first time and parents of children ages 4-6. About 3 in 5 families participating in summer reading for the first time reported that their children’s enjoyment of reading increased, and about 3 in 5 families of children ages 4-6 reported that their children’s reading by choice increased. Check out our new summer reading Fast Facts to learn more and read in parents’ own words the difference summer reading made for their families.

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POPULAR RESOURCES

  • Public Library Statistics & Profiles
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  • School Library Impact Studies
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  • Fast Fact Reports
    Looking for a quick rundown of library research? Check out our Fast Facts, which highlight research and statistics about various library topics.

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LRS is part of the Colorado State Library, a unit of the Colorado Department of Education. We design and conduct library research for library and education professionals, public officials, and the media to inform practices and assessment needs. We partner with the Library and Information Science program at University of Denver's Morgridge College of Education to provide research fellowships to current MLIS students.

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

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