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76% of U.S. adults read a book in the past year

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Image credit: Pew Internet

E-reading continues to grow in popularity among US adults, but print reading still rules, according to recent study results from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Nearly 3 in 10 (28%) adults reported reading an e-book in the past year, up from 23% in 2012. But 7 in 10 (69%) adults read a print book in the past year. In fact, the “e-book” only crowd remains small, at just 4% of readers.

Across all formats, 76% of adults read a book in the past year. Of those who did read a book in the previous 12 months, the average number read was 16 (the median number was 7). Women and those with higher income and education levels were more likely to have read a book in the past year.

So what about e-books? Of those who read a book in the past year, younger adults and those in urban and suburban areas were more likely to have read e-books than those 65 and older or in rural areas. E-readers and tablets are the devices of choice for e-book readers, with 57% of them using e-readers and 55% using tablets to read e-books (compared to 41% using e-readers and just 23% using tablets in 2011). These trends mirror larger device ownership trends, with half of Americans now having a dedicated handheld device for reading electronic media—up from 43% in September 2013.

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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In 2012, internet computers at Colorado’s public libraries were used more than 6.8 million times

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In our new Fast Facts, Computers in Colorado’s Public Libraries, we dive into data from the 2012 Public Library Annual Report to offer insight into the state of computer use and technology hardware offered in Colorado’s public libraries. We also examined trend data for the past decade (where available) to demonstrate how libraries have adapted to the growing demand for and changes in technology—from number of computers to wireless availability. So what does this demand look like? In 2012, internet computers were used more than 6.8 million times!

Of course library services don’t end in the building: The library website has increasingly become a portal to 24/7 access to what the libraries have to offer. In Colorado, 89% of public libraries have websites, according to original research completed by the Networking & Resource Sharing Office of the Colorado State Library. And patrons are using this access point: Libraries reported about 25 million unique visitors to their websites in 2012.

Learn more about what services libraries are offering online with our national, longitudinal research project U.S. Public Libraries and Web Technologies. Zoom in on the trends in Colorado in our Fast Facts report and infographic.

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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U.S. children ages 2-10 spend an average of 40 minutes a day reading

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Image credit: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center

In a recent national survey of parents of young children (ages 2-10), researchers asked parents how much time their kids spent with educational media across different formats and what their kids learned, as well as about their kids’ reading behaviors. (“Educational media” was defined as media the parents thought was “good for their child’s learning or growth or that teaches some type of lesson, such as an academic or social skill.”)

Overall, parents said their children spend just over 2 hours a day (2:07) with screen media, with 44% of that deemed “educational” by the adults. The amount of time spent with educational media decreased as age increased, with the youngest group, ages 2-4, spending 1:16 hours a day and the oldest group, ages 8-10, spending just 42 minutes. As might be expected, TV was the dominant form of educational screen media, with three-fourths (76%) of all educational media in a given day being streamed through a TV.

Parents were also asked to indicate what their children learned by using educational media. Among those who used it weekly, more parents said their child learned “a lot” about cognitive skills and reading/vocabulary (both 37%) and math (28%) than science (19%) or the arts (15%). Interestingly, format mattered: More parents said their child learned a lot from educational TV than from mobile devices. The children who use educational media weekly are also doing something about the media they view: Their parents said they talk about what they saw or did (87%), engage in imaginative play about it (78%), and ask questions about it (77%). Even better? Three of 5 parents (60%) said their children taught them something about what they saw or did.

This group of 2- to 10-year-olds spent an average of 40 minutes a day reading or being read to, of which 29 minutes were spent on print books, 8 minutes on a computer, and 5 minutes on an e-reader or tablet.  The amount of time parents and children spent reading together decreased as age increased, with 2- to 4-year-olds spending 44 minutes co-reading and 8- to 10-year-olds spending 24 minutes co-reading. Differences in reading time were not statistically significant based on race, income, or parent education, or among the age groups; however, there was a significant difference in children’s gender, with girls reading for 46 minutes a day and boys reading for 34 minutes, on average.

Read more about how families are interacting with educational media—or choosing not to—in the full report. This rich report also breaks down the topics by race/ethnicity, education level, and family income to gain deeper insight into how parents view educational media.

Libraries: how do you connect families with educational media resources? Let us know by chatting with us on Twitter.

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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Top 3 animals and people you can check out at libraries

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Image credit: Harvard Library

Did you know that some libraries loan – or provide access to – animals and people, for the general well-being of their patrons? Students at Harvard, Yale, and Emory can de-stress and momentarily escape the rigors of academic life by checking out a library therapy dog. At Harvard Library, for instance, students can borrow Cooper, a tiny six-year-old Shih Tzu, for 30 minutes at a time. Meanwhile, several public libraries throughout the U.S. and Canada, such as the San Francisco Public Library, have professional social workers and/or outreach workers on staff to provide patrons with information about emergency services (e.g., food, housing), family matters, and immigration. Finally, “human library” programs – offered at places like the Santa Monica Public Library and the Bainbridge Island Public Library – allow patrons to converse, one-on-one, with others who have had unique life experiences. Pioneered in Denmark, human library programs aim to expose patrons to alternative perspectives – thereby increasing their understanding – and produce a sense of common ground. Find out more about these unique programs by following these links:

1.)    Therapy dogs:

Cooper, the Shih Tzu – Harvard Library, Harvard University

Monty, the border terrier mix – Yale University Library, Yale

Multiple therapy dogs – Robert W. Woodruff Library, Emory University

2.)    Professionals (discussed in Multnomah County Public Library’s report, Homelessness, Human Services, and Libraries):

Social worker – San Francisco Public Library

Outreach/social workers – Edmonton Public Library

Outreach worker – Sacramento Public Library

Public health nurses  – Pima County Public Library

3.)    People to converse with, who have had unique life experiences, via “human library” programs:

Santa Monica Public Library

Bainbridge Island Library

Does your library loan animals and/or humans? Let us know by chatting with us on Twitter.

Note: This post is part of our “Beyond Books” series. From time to time, we’ll be sharing examples of unique lending programs, events, and outreach that libraries are offering.

A Multnomah County Library survey found that about 1 in 5 patrons using computers did so for job-related purposes

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Image credit: Multnomah County Library

Libraries have always been known for the information resources they provide; however, for some, they provide much more, and even serve as lifelines. A recent survey conducted by the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon affords insight into the ways in which people rely on public libraries during times of hardship. The survey – administered at two separate locations, on different days, to entering patrons – received more than 1,000 responses. Of those patrons who completed the survey, nearly 1 in 5  were homeless. Some key findings included:

  • About half of the respondents visited the library to use the computers; of these, 26% were homeless.
  • About 1 in 5 respondents using computers were doing so for job-related purposes; of these, 44% were homeless.
  • More than 1 in 10 respondents intended to search for essential services online, such as those related to finding housing, jobs, or counseling for mental health, substance abuse, or domestic violence; of these, 44% were  homeless.

In response to the survey results, Multnomah County Library created a plan to improve its services for patrons coping with hardships like homelessness and mental illness. Within six to twelve months, the Library will designate and train certain employees to serve as Persons In Charge (PICs), who will be responsible for knowing about essential county- and independently-offered services, in order to “facilitate better referrals to patrons.” Within this timeframe, the Library also hopes to have all PICs complete an eight-hour Mental Health First Aid course. At 12 months, the Library will collaborate with the Department of Human Services to develop a training course for other, non-PIC employees likely to interact with patrons in need.

Though impressive, Multnomah’s efforts are just some of the many ways in which public libraries help those in need. How does your library reach out? How can it improve its efforts? Do you know of a particular public library that deserves recognition in this area? Let us know by chatting with us on Twitter.

 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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A survey of Colorado parents found that 75% read to their young children (ages 0-3) daily

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Image credit: Aurora Public Library Early Literacy Center

The Supporting Parents in Early Literacy through Libraries (SPELL) project recently presented findings from its study on effective strategies for developing early literacy messaging and support to low-income families and parents of children from birth to 3 years old. The project included an extensive environmental scan and literature review to find patterns and major trends across disciplines, the results of which are available here.

The next phase of the project included a survey and focus groups of more than 250 families with children from birth to 3 years old in 2 metro and 2 rural communities in Colorado. Topics covered in this phase included use of library services, information-seeking behaviors, and reading activities.

So what did field research have to say? Public libraries are used by people of all income levels, however low-income families made more use of library services, especially the building itself. Low-income families attended library programs for children less frequently than more affluent families, but they reported attending adult programs more frequently. Library staff were considered valuable resources for encouraging reading, while other resources (such as a doctor’s office or church) were consulted for information on raising and educating children. Every survey respondent believed it is important to read to young children. And, three-fourths of the respondents reported reading to their children daily; however, these results varied based on income, number of children at home, and education levels.

Learn more about the results in the study report. A blueprint of best practices based on project findings is also available to help libraries and community partners implement early literacy initiatives.

Want more early literacy information? Check out our Fast Facts, Early Literacy Information on Colorado Public Library Websites, and visit the Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy website for extensive resources, practical guides, and real stories from Colorado 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.

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76% of Americans rated librarian assistance as very or somewhat important to them

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Image credit: Pew Internet

The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently released new research results from its report How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities. This powerful study explores what Americans (16 and older) value about public libraries, how libraries impact them and their families, and how they use and perceive libraries. Here are some highlights from the results:

Just over 3 in 5 (61%) of respondents said they have a public library card, and nearly half (48%) have visited a library or bookmobile in the past year. Thirty percent of those surveyed had recently visited a public library website, up 5% from late 2012. For those who have ever been to a public library or had a household member use a library, library services rated most important included: books and media (81%); librarian assistance (76%); having a quiet, safe place (75%); and research resources (72%). An impressive 95% of respondents say public libraries are important because they promote literacy and a love of learning and provide free access to materials and resources so everyone has a chance to succeed. And respondents recognize the work libraries are doing with technology: 55% disagreed with the statement that public libraries have not done a good job keeping up with new technologies.

Learn more about how education attainment, age, race/ethnicity, and other demographics break down in the full 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.

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A national survey of school librarians found that 98% instruct students and teachers in the use of technology tools

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Image credit: School Library Journal

School Library Journal’s 2013 School Library Technology Survey asked more than 750 K-12 school librarians and media specialists at public and private schools about technology topics including technology integration, professional development, filtering, and social media. Results show that almost all respondents (98%) are teaching students and coaching teachers how to use everything from databases to digital textbooks, despite facing challenges with time, budget, bandwidth, and Internet and device policies and restrictions.

Most schools of those responding to the survey are connected, with 92% offering WiFi. About 69% of school librarians use free social applications and similar apps to collaborate and support learning. Top social applications used by respondents were Edmodo, Pinterest, and Goodreads, all noteworthy as free Web-based teaching tools that also offer spaces for learning online etiquette and responsible browsing behaviors.

Nearly three-fourths (72%) of librarians say they’re seen as technology leaders, but only 44% of respondents believe those abilities translate into job security. Anecdotes described frustration with administrative roadblocks to technology implementation and difficulties using resources like YouTube, which is often banned in schools.

Find out how Colorado school libraries compare in our Fast Facts reports, 21st Century Instruction Strategies in Colorado School Libraries and Colorado School Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies, 2011-2012.

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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What is a school library?

We previously examined the importance of research definitions when considering those who staff school library media centers. To further complicate matters, this time we will look at an even more foundational concept: What is a school library? You might be surprised to learn the answer is incredibly complex, depending on what source you use.

LRS follows the “school library” definition as set by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) for its Report Card of Data Elements and Definitions. Released by CDE annually in March, the Report Card asks districts to indicate if they meet this definition for a school library:

“a dedicated facility located in and administered by the school that provides at least the following: an organized, circulating collection of printed and/or audiovisual and/or computer-based resources, or a combination thereof; paid staff [emphasis added]; an established schedule during which services of the staff are available to students and faculty; instruction on using library materials to support classroom standards and improve student research and literacy skills.”

LRS derives our numbers from CDE’s staffing data and consider a school to have a library if it has a paid staff person (librarian or paraprofessional) responsible for that facility. Through this lens, just over two-thirds (68%) of Colorado public schools have a school library, based on 2012-13 staffing data.

Good so far? Now consider CDE’s 2012-13 March Report Card data collection, which reported 1,641, or 90 percent, of Colorado’s public schools have libraries (library data in SchoolView is available under the Courses tab, under the Programs link):

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However, while CDE bases these figures on the same definition as the one above, they are derived from district responses to a single survey question as opposed to relying on school staffing data.

On the national level, the 2011-12 National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Salary and Staffing Survey indicates that 90 percent of all public schools in the nation have a library media center (see Table 1). This report does not indicate a state-by-state percentage. NCES’ library media center definition is similar to Colorado’s, with some notable differences:

“A library media center is an organized collection of printed and/or audiovisual and/or computer resources which is administered as a unit, is located in a designated place or places, and makes resources and services available to students, teachers, and administrators. A library media center may be called a school library, media center, resource center, information center, instructional materials center, learning resource center, or any other similar name.”

There are a couple of glaring omissions to this definition: Who is responsible for running the library media center and how do students, teachers, and administrators learn to use the collection? It is interesting, however, to read the range of synonyms for “library media center.” Such variations indicate the diverse roles played by the school library, some well outside of the traditional collection-focused terminology used in the first sentence of the definition.

Is your head spinning yet? The point of this post is to demonstrate that defining “school library” is as difficult as pinning down how many there are. It’s important to consider the fine print when trying to talk about research in a meaningful way. So read those footnotes, be skeptical, and be careful when attempting to generalize study results. Of course we haven’t mentioned how you can put 5 librarians in a room and get 5 different definitions of a library, too. This has been debated for decades, and the debate will likely continue for many more.

From 2010 to 2012, the percentage of Colorado public library websites catering to mobile devices increased from 3% to 36%

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Image credit: Poudre River Public Library District

Our new Fast Facts, Trends in Colorado Public Library Websites and Social Media Use, presents findings from the Colorado portion of our longitudinal study of U.S. public libraries’ use of web technologies and social media. All 114 of Colorado’s public libraries are included in this study. One of our main findings was that from 2010 to 2012, the percentage of Colorado public libraries catering to mobile devices increased dramatically. Researchers looked for any of the following types of mobile-friendly website access:

  • Mobile version of website: The URL redirects to a mobile site (e.g., “m.citylibrary.org”) when viewed on a mobile device.
  • Mobile app:  A software application is downloaded by users to run on their smartphones or other mobile devices.
  • Responsive design: The website is designed in a way that is accessible to a wide range of devices, from smartphones to desktop LCDs, through the use of fluid, proportion-based grids, flexible images, and media queries.

Overall, 36% of Colorado public libraries offered some type of mobile-friendly website access, up from 3% in 2010.

In terms of the specific type of mobile access,

  • About one-fourth (26%) of Colorado public libraries offered mobile 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.

Check out the following resources for more information about this study:

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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