Pew survey finds that almost a third of Americans are in favor of fewer book shelves, though libraries themselves remain central to communities.


Image credit: Pew Research

Pew Research Center’s new report on the state of America’s libraries declares that libraries are approaching a watershed moment of change. Pew based this conclusion off of two central questions from its survey of 2,004 Americans over the age of 16 – Firstly, what should happen to the books that traditionally populated libraries, and secondly, what should happen to the buildings themselves?

It appears that Americans are getting more comfortable with the idea of a library with fewer books. 30% of survey respondents say libraries should “definitely” move books to make way for more space and services, compared to 20% in 2012. A quarter (25%) said libraries should “definitely not” do this, and 40% were on the fence. However, it appears that Americans are nowhere near ready to forgo the library space as a whole. Nearly two-thirds (64%) thought libraries should definitely still have a physical location.

So what does this mean for the future of library books? Public libraries are likely to remain popular community centers and resources for job preparation, but books will also remain a central part of their M.O. Some print book collections may decline, but the formats offered by libraries continue to get increasingly diverse. The Pew survey also found that e-book lending is growing – though the number seems small, 6% of respondents have borrowed an e-book, and 38% are aware that they are offered.

Yet even with the growth in popularity of electronic resources (90% of public libraries now have e-lending programs!), the Pew survey respondents don’t indicate that Americans are ready to go full e-book. Almost half (46%) still aren’t aware of whether or not their library offers e-books. Even more concerning, respondents with the least education and household income reported higher than average declines in library use. This means that despite rapid growth in tech-based services and resources, it will be essential for libraries to continue their quest to close the gap in digital literacy and awareness.

Want to hear more about the state of public libraries? You can access the full Pew report 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 ARSL for “Data Visualization for the Rest of Us: A Beginner’s Guide”


Will you be at ARSL this week? If so, we hope you will join us for:

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

Thursday, October 1, 1:45-2:45 PM, Grampas

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 will learn quick and easy tips for visually displaying statistics that will enable you to tell a powerful story about your library in your board reports, flyers, displays, and more.

LJ survey reveals differences in faculty’s vs. academic librarians’ perceptions of library services


Image credit: Library Journal

A new nationwide study by Library Journal, in partnership with Gale, examines faculty and academic librarian perceptions of the services offered by academic libraries, and the results are mixed. Nearly nine out of ten faculty (87%) feels that the academic library is important for providing resources for their own and their students’ research. However, academic librarians and faculty had different views on what services are most important and whether communication is adequate between faculty and librarians.

As far as services go, librarians and faculty do agree that the central function of academic libraries is information literacy instruction and research consultation for students. Yet librarians tended to rate their achievement in these areas much higher than faculty did. On the other hand, faculty are more likely to rate librarians higher in terms of stretch services. Well over half (61%) of faculty, for example, rated repository services as very important or essential, compared to just half of librarians. Faculty also rated services such as text and data mining, and research grant management, higher than librarians did.

Communication seems to be the biggest barrier to faculty and academic librarians seeing eye to eye, though. Essentially all academic librarians in the study (98%) thought there could be better communication between the two parties, compared to less than half (45%) of faculty surveyed who felt the same. Busy schedules and a lack of easy ways to foster in-person contact were the most cited reasons for a lack of communication. Over a quarter (27%) of faculty simply felt that there was “no need” to communicate with librarians.

Results from this survey seem to indicate that libraries and their services are still perceived as very important to academic institutions. The challenges that academic libraries will face, though, appear to be balancing the services needed by all campus stakeholders, including students, faculty, and graduate students, while forging effective methods of communication in busy and technology-saturated environments.

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.

New Pew study finds that 57% of today’s teens have made a new friend online


If the younger generation is any indication of how people will live, work, and interact in the future, today’s teens are media omnivores who will set new standards for social communication. In a new study from the Pew Research Center that takes a look at how friendships are formed and maintained in the digital age, it was found that teens are more likely to text message with friends everyday (55%) than interact with them in person every day (25%). The results, obtained from a national survey and in-person focus groups of 13 to 17 year olds, also found that other popular communication methods include talking on the phone, instant messaging, social media, video chat, video games, and messaging apps.

Teens are also not only keeping in touch with established friends online, but are also making new friends. More than half (57%) of teens have made at least one new friend online. However, it is also likely that these friendships will remain exclusively online. The most popular forums for teens to meet and socialize online are social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as playing networked video games. Girls are more likely to meet friends through social networks than boys (78% vs. 52% of boys), and boys are much more likely to meet through online video games (57% vs. 13% of girls).

Despite parental concerns, teens are meeting up in online environments more and more. Of all of the top places where teens get together with close friends, online environments are now the third most common (with 55% of teens saying they spend time with friends regularly online). It is still unclear whether these online interactions have an overall positive or negative impact. More than four-fifths (83%) of teens say that social media helps them to feel more connected to friends’ lives, but some teens do experience negative consequences such as pressure to make themselves look better, having friends that start drama online, and others posting exclusionary or negative comments.

If libraries are to remain vibrant places for teens to gather and interact in the future, they will need to consider ways in which they can harness the fluid and quickly changing social dynamics of this demographic.

You can access the full report on “Teens, Technology & Friendships” 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.

Be a part of the #RIPLeffect: Come to our PLA preconference!


Image credit: Public Library Association

Did you miss out on the inaugural Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) this past summer? Well, now’s your chance to be a part of the #RIPLeffect. RIPL instructors will be offering a full day preconference at PLA 2016 in Denver: Think, Do, Show: Practical Techniques for Analyzing, Using, and Visualizing Data to Improve Practice and Demonstrate Impact. This preconference will take place on Tuesday, April 5, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM. The curriculum is straight from RIPL 2015, refined and improved based on participant feedback!

Here is the program description:

Libraries collect a lot of data: circulation, program attendance, user satisfaction, etc. In this preconference, you will learn how to go beyond simply collecting and reporting on these numbers. Through a series of interactive exercises, you will discover how to analyze your data, use your results to inform your strategic planning, management, and communication with stakeholders, and visually present your statistics in infographics and other formats to demonstrate your library’s impact.


  1. Be able to conduct standard types of public library data analysis
  2. Have increased skills and confidence in using data for strategic planning, management, and communication with stakeholders
  3. Be able to visually present data so that it tells a powerful story about your library

To participate fully in the preconference, you will want to bring a laptop with Excel.


Denise Davis, Deputy Director, Sacramento Public Library
Linda Hofschire, Research Analyst, Library Research Service, Colorado State Library
Jamie LaRue, Consultant, LaRue and Associates Consulting
Zeth Lietzau, Director, Collections, Technology, & Strategy, Denver Public Library
Rochelle Logan, Consultant, Rochelle Logan Consulting
Jon Solomon, Assistant Director, Englewood Public Library
Nicolle Steffen, Director, Library Research Service, Colorado State Library
Meghan Wanucha, Research Assistant, Library Research Service, Colorado State Library
Sara Wright, Director, Berthoud Public Library

Want to sign up? PLA 2016 registration opens today (September 15, 2015) at 12:00 PM CDT. Simply select this preconference as part of the registration process. Hurry! Space is limited.

Interested in getting updates about future RIPL events – including a second RIPL that will be offered in 2016, as well as RIPL curriculum offerings at conferences, webinars, etc.? Go to the RIPL website and sign up for email updates in the “Overview” section.


Just 35% of 2011 academic library job postings included salary information

academic jobs

Image credit: College & Research Libraries

While the library job market seems to be improving, there is always room for more data! In the newest College & Research Libraries, two academic librarians did a content analysis of the American Library Association’s (ALA) JobLIST and the Association of Research Libraries’ (ARL) Job Announcements to capture the academic library job market in 2011, then compared the results to 1996 and 1988. While at this point the 2011 data is a bit stale, the trend information can be useful to those in the job market or hiring.

The researchers looked at the number, types and titles, qualifications/skills, salary, and locations of positions posted from January 1–December 31, 2011. One surprise finding: 33 different library job titles were found in the 2011 study, up from 22 in 1996 and 12 in 1988. The researchers speculate the increase is because of new emerging technologies and e-resources management shifts. Public services positions dominated in 2011 with 57% of all postings, while technical services trailed with 27% and electronic services with 15%. The geographic location of these positions has stayed fairly constant, with the North Atlantic region slightly winning out with 29% of announcements, compared to 26% in West & Southwest, 24% in Southeast, and 22% in the Great Lakes & Plains.

As might be expected, the 2011 study found a 24% increase in the percentage of job postings requesting computer skills compared to 1996, and more than 100% increase compared to 1988. A majority of positions (60%) required previous work experience, 14% preferred work experience, a quarter didn’t specify, and just 2% classified themselves as entry-level. And for those currently on the job market, take note: Just 35% of all job announcements listed salary information.

Read more about the academic library job market in the full report here. And check out our analysis of academic librarian salaries and of our own popular Library Jobline.

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.

Consistent with past years, nearly all of the 2014 CTBL Patron Satisfaction Survey respondents rate their satisfaction as “Excellent” or “Good”


The results are in for the 2014 Colorado Talking Book Library (CTBL) Survey, which seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the library and overall satisfaction with its services. CTBL provides free library services, including recorded books, Braille materials, large print books, and descriptive videos, to Coloradans of all ages who are unable to read standard print because of physical, visual, or learning disabilities. Highlights from the survey are detailed in our Closer Look report.

Out of 6,400 active individual patrons, CTBL distributed the survey to an age-stratified sample of 1,733 patrons, and received 454 responses. The majority of respondents (60%) are over the age of 60, and more than a third (36%) have at least a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The survey reveals that the most common method of communication with CTBL is the phone, with three-fourths of respondents (74%) communicating this way, and a third (32%) of respondents communicating with the library approximately every 6 months. This lack of regular and face-to-face communication suggests not that patrons are dissatisfied with CTBL, but rather that they are pleased with the library’s current services. In fact, almost all (98%) of the survey respondents indicate their satisfaction with CTBL as “excellent” or “good,” and the service components rated most highly by respondents (all rated above 90% “excellent” and “good” combined) are the courtesy of library staff, the completeness and condition of books received by patrons, the ease of contacting CTBL, the quality of the playback machine provided by CTBL, and the speed with which books are delivered to patrons.

The results obtained from this survey were consistent with the results gathered from past surveys conducted every 18 months since 2004.

Read the full 2014 CTBL Patron Satisfaction Survey report 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.

Colorado ranked 22nd in 0-18 children’s well-being


Image credit: ZERO TO THREE

The nonprofit early development organization ZERO TO THREE recently released updated State Baby Facts factsheets about the status of infants, toddlers, and families across the country. Early literacy is just one piece of the early childhood education and development picture, so these factsheets are useful tools to help libraries and other early literacy organizations to understand current poverty, health, and early learning data and how their states compare nationally.

Here are some highlights from Colorado’s factsheet:

  • More than 1 in 4 (21%) Colorado infants and toddlers live at less than 100% of the federal poverty level.
  • One in 10 babies is born preterm, and 9% of babies have low birth weight in Colorado.
  • More than a quarter (27%) of Colorado children younger than 3 experience residential mobility (e.g., multiple moves).
  • Coloradans are doing better than the national averages for several early learning activities (perhaps libraries have a role to play in that?):
    • Well over half (57%) of parents or family members read to their 0-5-year-old each day.
    • More than 3 in 5 (63%) parents or family members tell stories and sing to their 0-5-year-old each day.
  • At the same time, the cost of infant childcare for Colorado single mothers is nearly half (48%) of their income.

Looking for practical tips to make your library more supportive of families with young children? Check out the research-tested SPELL Blueprint model which outlines activities and recommendations from the Supporting Parents in Early Literacy Through Libraries (SPELL) project.

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 new SLJ survey, nearly two-thirds of school librarians see themselves as tech leaders in their school


Image credit: School Library Journal

School Library Journal’s 2015 Technology survey of 1,259 school librarians provides insight into the positive and negative effects that technology is having on school libraries. On the positive side, the survey suggests that school librarians are more enthusiastic than ever about incorporating tech as a component of teaching and learning. Makerspaces, 3-D printers, and coding skills were cited as the most coveted tech resources. In fact, more than a third (38%) of respondents reported having maker activities and technology already, while another 13% said they would be adding these features in the next year. School librarians are also quite confident in their own advocacy of technology, with nearly two-thirds (64%) expressing that they see themselves as tech leaders in their schools.

School librarians’ use of applications for instruction and social media for providing information and resources has continued to increase. Application use has increased from 57% in 2013 to 71% in 2015, and the use of social media for information sharing shot up from 59% in 2013 to 76% in 2015.

Yet despite this rapidly growing interest and demand for technology many school libraries are seeing budgets fall short of their need. In particular, the amount of bandwidth is becoming a concern. While nearly all (97%) of the schools surveyed have Wi-Fi, the speed of connection is comparable to many private homes. Only 63% of school librarians surveyed deemed their bandwidth access adequate, compared to 82% in 2013. In addition, the funding to improve these services is often stagnant at best.

It is almost certain that the supply of digital information will continue to skyrocket along with the demand to complement these resources with technology-based instruction. School librarians and those who partner with them will need to combine advocacy efforts with creative solutions for how to stretch funds to accommodate the need for more tech-based learning.

Read the full SLJ report on technology in school 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.

Harris Poll finds that the percent of U.S. adults in favor of banning some books has increased from 18% to 28% since 2011


Librarians have always been strong advocates of free speech who fight to advance free access to information and reduce censorship. Even so, a new Harris Poll online survey of 2,244 American adults shows that many don’t hold the position that all information is created equal.

The survey, which addresses Americans’ beliefs about banned materials by their format, reveals that U.S. adults are more likely to believe that there are books which should be banned than to believe that there are movies, television shows, and video games that deserve the same treatment. In fact, even though nearly half (48%) of the respondents were totally against banning any books, the percent in favor of banning some books has increased by more than half since 2011 (from 18% to 28%).

An interesting finding of the survey is how U.S. adults view information access by the age of the consumer. Three fifths (60%) of respondents were concerned about children’s exposure to explicit language, and almost half (48%) thought violence in books was problematic. Yet when it came to their own reading habits, respondents were much more lenient. Nearly a third (30%) said that they would be more likely to read a book if it had been banned, and two-fifths (40%) would be more drawn to reading a controversial book.

So where do librarians fit into this picture? More than two-thirds (70%) of the survey respondents believe that librarians should prevent children from borrowing inappropriate materials, indicating a disconnect between public opinion and intellectual freedom principles that are central to librarianship. Yet having an understanding of patrons’ diverse expectations about information in its many forms can help libraries to better educate and serve their communities.

Check out all of the results from the survey 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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