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

Pew_Value of PL in Cmty

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.

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.

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.

Top 5 interactive kits loaned by libraries

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Image credit: Arapahoe Library District

According to Pew Internet & American Life Project’s newest study, How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities, 4 out of 5 Americans 16 and older think books and media are important services offered by libraries. So what kinds of things are included in that “media” category? At libraries across the country, interactive kits are one form of media that encourages creativity, learning, and storytelling. Here are some examples of interactive kits and libraries that lend them:

  1. BiFolkal Kits – Arapahoe Library District (Colorado): BiFolkal Kits include slides, music, visual images, and other objects to inspire storytelling and remembrances.
  2. Book Club Kits – Madison Public Library (Wisconsin): Book Club Kits make book clubs easier with ready-to-go discussion questions, author information, and at least 8 copies of the same book in each kit. Boone County Public Library District (Kentucky) offers Digital Book Club Kits, which provide books in multiple e-book formats (for Kindle, iThing, Nook, etc.) as well as discussion questions.
  3. Stories to Go – Ann Arbor Library District (Michigan): Designed for parents, teachers, and caregivers, Stories to Go offers kid-friendly materials and activities focused on a single theme.
  4. Mystery Kits – Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (Kentucky) : Mystery Kits for elementary and middle-school kids include everything a group needs to set up and solve dastardly deeds only Snidely Whiplash could imagine.
  5. Super Science Kits – Kasson Public Library (Minnesota); Cubberley Education Library at Stanford Library (California):  Get STEM to go with Science Kits, which explore topics using tools, scientific supplies, and mini-experiments.

Does your library loan any of these items or other types of interactive kits? Let us know by by commenting on our Twitter feed.

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.

Colorado public libraries reported 39 challenges to materials and services in 2012

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Public libraries reported only 39 challenges to their materials and services in 2012, through LRS’s annual Public Library Annual Report. The number – down 35 percent from 2011 – is the lowest in at least nine years. More than half (51%) of the challenges pertain to books, though audiobook-related challenges rose by a substantial 550 percent from 2011 to 2012, and now account for 13 percent of all challenges. Challenges to items geared toward children also increased dramatically in 2012, and now make up one-third (33%) of all challenges. The reasons cited for the challenges are in keeping with the previous five years, with “sexually explicit” appearing most frequently. Also mirroring previous years: A majority (85%) of the 2012 challenges resulted in no change to the challenged item, such as removal or reclassification.

For more information on this topic, check out our new Fast Facts, Challenged Materials in Colorado Public Libraries, 2012. Also, tell us your thoughts about the decline in challenges in recent years, by commenting on our Twitter feed.

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.

93% of the largest U.S. public libraries (serving 500,000+) are on Facebook

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Our new report, U.S. Public Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies, 2012, presents the findings of our longitudinal study of nearly 600 U.S. public libraries’ use of web technologies and social media. One of our main findings was that in 2012, the majority of libraries had social media accounts:

  • Almost all (93%) of the largest libraries (serving 500,000+), a little more than 4 in 5 (83%) libraries serving between 25,000 and 499,999, 7 in 10 (69%) of those serving 10,000 to 24,999, and 54 percent of the smallest libraries (serving less than 10,000) had at least one social media account.
  • Of the 9 social networks that were analyzed, libraries were most likely to be on Facebook (93% of the largest libraries, 82% of libraries serving between 25,000 and 499,999, 68% of libraries serving between 10,000 and 24,999, and 54% of the smallest libraries). From 2010 to 2012, the smallest libraries had the biggest jump in adoption of this social network, from 18 percent to 54 percent.
  • Other common social networks were Twitter (84% of the largest libraries were on this network) and YouTube (60% of the largest libraries). Flickr was also common, however, it has decreased in all population groups from 2010 to 2012; for example, 63 percent of the largest libraries used this social network in 2010 versus 42 percent in 2012.
  • Close to one-third (31%) of the largest libraries were on Foursquare, 23% were on Pinterest, and 8 percent each were on Google+ and Tumblr.
  • The largest libraries were on an average of 3.54 social networks out of the 9 included in the analysis, whereas the smallest libraries averaged less than 1.

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.

 

From 2010 to 2012, the percentage of U.S. public library websites catering to mobile devices increased dramatically

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Image credit: Los Gatos Library

We recently released a report, U.S. Public Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies, 2012, that presents the findings of our longitudinal study of nearly 600 U.S. public libraries’ use of web technologies and social media. One of our main findings was that from 2010 to 2012, the percentage of 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.

We found that three-fourths of the largest libraries (serving 500,000+), about 3 in 5 libraries serving between 25,000 and 499,999, one-third of libraries serving between 10,000 and 24,999, and 17% of the smallest libraries (serving less than 10,000) offered some type of mobile-friendly website access. In contrast, in 2010, just 12% of the largest libraries, 3% of libraries serving between 100,000-499,999, and no libraries serving less than 100,000 offered mobile-friendly website access.

In terms of the specific type of mobile access,

  • 3 in 5 of the largest libraries, about half of libraries serving between 25,000 and 499,999, 1 in 5 libraries serving between 10,000 and 24,999, and 2% of the smallest libraries offered apps;
  • 2 in 5 of the largest libraries, about one-fourth of libraries serving between 25,000 and 499,999, 1 in 5 libraries serving between 10,000 and 24,000, and 14% of the smallest libraries had mobile versions of their sites; however,
  • just 9 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.

What should library staff be paid?

What should library staff be paid?

avg_hrly_wage_by_degreeBased on 5 years of job postings on our own Library Jobline, we’ve found that starting wages for library jobs are stagnant overall (see our Fast Facts). But this is only one piece of the pay equity puzzle: The American Library Association–Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) has published an updated Pay Equity Bibliography. The bibliography includes resources on pay equity, certification, faculty status, gender, and worker competencies, as well as salary negotiation, legislation, and various economic factors. Salary data and statistical information is also provided to help library professionals understand what they are worth. From the report: “The emphasis for items included in the bibliography is on practical rather than theoretical materials and on more recent information on pay equity; however, there are items from previous versions of the Pay Equity Bibliography included. This list is by no means exhaustive.”

Learn more about the Colorado library job market, salary trends, and other workforce topics in our Fast Facts reports.

Are you currently in the job market? Be sure to visit Library Jobline, for job posting from Colorado and beyond (like Texas and Qatar). And for even more job hunting strategies, visit our Twitter feed @libraryjobline where we’ll share tips and tricks using #JobTip.

Text reference increased by as much as 375% in U.S. public libraries from 2010 to 2012

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Image credit: Free Library of Philadelphia

Earlier this week, we released a report, U.S. Public Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies, 2012, that presents the findings of our longitudinal study of nearly 600 U.S. public libraries’ use of web technologies and social media. One element that we examined was virtual reference–email, chat, and text. Our findings showed that in 2008, 2010, and 2012, email was the most popular form of virtual reference. In 2012, well over half of libraries serving populations of at least 100,000 provided email reference services, as did nearly half of libraries serving 25,000-99,999. However, it appears that email reference is waning a bit in popularity, as libraries serving 100,000+ as well as the smallest libraries (serving less than 10,000) showed decreases from 2010.

Chat reference was still offered by many public libraries but it has also declined from 2010 to 2012, with substantial drops at the larger libraries: libraries serving 500,000+ dropped from 71% to 57% and those serving 100,000-499,999 fell from 49% to 38%.

In contrast, text reference has seen extensive growth in libraries. Just 13% of the largest libraries (serving 500,000+) offered text reference in 2010; in 2012, more than 3 times as many (43%) did. About 1 in 5 libraries (19%) serving 100,000-499,999 offered text reference services in 2012 compared to just 4% in 2010. And, more than twice as many libraries serving 25,000-99,999 offered text reference in 2012 than 2010 (9% vs. 4%), as did more than 3 times as many libraries serving 10,000-24,999 (7% vs. 2%) . None of the smallest libraries offered text reference in 2010, whereas 2% did so in 2012.

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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