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Top 5 Unique Tools Loaned by Libraries

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Image credit: Ann Arbor District Library

1. Thermal leak detector – Ann Arbor District Library (Michigan)

2. Table saw – Berkeley Public Library (California)

3. Hedge shears – Fletcher Free Library (Vermont)

4. Wood carving tool set – Grosse Pointe Public Library (Michigan)

5. Energy meter – Jefferson County Public Library (Colorado)

Libraries have been getting some national love recently! NPR’s Keys To The Whole World: American Public Libraries series, an NBC Nightly News piece on unique lending items, not to mention the newly opened BiblioTech digital public library in San Antonio—it’s always refreshing to see libraries talked about in a positive way, especially by those outside Library Land. To highlight some of the amazing services libraries are providing beyond what’s traditionally been expected of them, we’re introducing a new feature called “Beyond Books.” From time to time, we’ll be sharing examples of unique lending programs, events, and outreach that libraries are offering, and we’ll be asking for your input, too! Share your library’s stories with us, and tell us what we’ve missed.

First up? Tools. Of course this is not a new service for libraries to provide, but one that’s been reinvigorated thanks to unique community needs and savvy librarians who know how to respond. What’s the most popular tool lent at your library?

The average copyright year of history/geography books in Colorado’s school libraries is 1995

copyrightIt’s difficult to imagine K-12 schools not teaching students about the tragedies that unfolded on September 11, 2001. Indeed, Colorado K-12 students attending public schools do learn about that day’s events during their history/social studies classes, but they will likely encounter problems if they try to search for additional information about the event in their school library’s history section. According to the 2012-2013 School Library Survey results, the average copyright for books that fall in the 900 range (history and geography) of the Dewey Decimal System is 1995—when Bill Clinton was still serving his first term.

Are you looking for funding sources to update your school library’s resources? Check out this blog post for links to possible grant opportunities.

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 2011-12, 52% of US public school library staff had a master’s degree in a library-related field

In 2011-12, 52% of US public school library staff had a master’s degree in a library-related field

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According to survey results from the 2011-12 National Center for Education Statistics Salary and Staffing Survey, two-thirds of US library media centers in traditional public schools and one-third of public charter schools had at least one paid full-time state-certified library media center specialist. About 20 percent of all public schools with library media centers operated with no full-time or part-time paid, state-certified library media center specialists.

On the surface, these are straightforward facts taken from these survey results. In reality, school librarians and libraries are notoriously difficult to define, count, and report. For example, New York City’s 1,700 public schools now employ 333 certified librarians—however not all of them are working as librarians. It is also worth noting the term “state-certified” is a very specific phrase indicating a staff member who has achieved state certification as a school library media specialist as deemed by the state’s licensure office (see Colorado’s endorsement requirements here). This is not equivalent to the staff member having an MLIS, despite the American Association of School Librarians’ position statement on Preparation of School Librarians that states “the master’s degree is considered the entry-level degree for the profession.” So, while more than 4 out of 5 full-time or part-time paid professional library staff were state-certified according to the NCES survey, only 52 percent had a master’s degree in a library-related major.

These examples call attention to the significance of research definitions and how, as savvy research consumers, we must be aware of context and background when considering results. And don’t get us started on how “library” is defined—we’ll dive into that gem soon, so stay tuned!

Tease out the importance of endorsed school librarians with our impact study summary infographic and webpage detailing the impact these staff members have on student achievement.

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.

Through the One Book 4 Colorado program, 74,000 copies of a new book were distributed to all 4-year-olds in Colorado

Through the One Book 4 Colorado program, 74,000 copies of a new book were distributed to all 4-year-olds in Colorado

ob4coIn May 2013, about 74,000 free copies of the book Duck on a Bike were distributed to 4-year-olds across Colorado during the second annual One Book 4 Colorado program (OB4CO), which aims to increase awareness of the importance of early-childhood reading. Parental response to the program was positive, as indicated by survey results. Seventy-five percent of parents responding to the survey claimed that they had read Duck on a Bike with their child multiple times. About half of the responding parents also agreed or strongly agreed that they spend more time reading with their child since participating in OB4CO. Additionally, about half of responding parents stated that their child is more interested in/talks more about books thanks to OB4CO.

A recent report by the Pew Research Center, Parents, Children, Libraries, and Reading, addresses the use of libraries by families, and further examines parents’ perceptions of the importance of libraries in their children’s development. According to the report, 7 in 10 parents (70%) reported that their child had visited a library in the previous 12 months. Of the children who visited libraries, almost half (46%) attended a library event, such as the OB4CO’s giveaway. More importantly, more than 9 in 10 (94%) parents stated that libraries are important for their children, and 84 percent of these parents believe that “libraries help inculcate their children’s love of reading and books.”

Interested in learning more about early literacy and libraries? Check out our Fast Facts, “Early Literacy Information on Colorado Public Library Websites.” This report includes a link to early literacy resources that libraries can add to their websites.

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.

On average, each Colorado resident checked out 12 items from public libraries in 2012

On average, each Colorado resident checked out 12 items from public libraries in 2012

PLAR_circWe know that borrowing books is a very important service libraries provide – 80% of Americans say so. But how does this opinion translate into action? In Colorado last year, libraries circulated more than 66 million items, according to the 2012 Annual Public Library Survey. In other words, each Colorado resident checked out an average of 12 items in 2012, a figure that has generally increased each year since we started collecting these statistics in the late 1980s.

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 shows that one library district’s return on investment to taxpayers was up to 400%

Study shows that one library district’s return on investment to taxpayers was up to 400%

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Image credit: Santa Clara County Library District

What value does your library provide to users? A recent return on investment (ROI) study of Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) examined how their community benefited from the library in 5 areas:

  • Enhancing early literacy and youth education
  • Promoting lifelong learning and personal growth
  • Building and bridging diverse communities
  • Providing access to information and technology for all
  • Supporting personal recreation and quality of life

The results showed  that in 2011-12, for every dollar that SCCLD spent, the community received between  $2.50 and $5.17 in quantifiable benefits (computers, programming and community events, materials, etc.). In other words, taxpayers received up to a 400% return on investment. Of course, many library features cannot be easily counted, so stakeholder interviews were also conducted to examine the intangible benefits that users received. A wide range of benefits were identified, including the following:

  • An efficient, environmentally-conscious way to provide shared resources
  • Opportunities for exploration, creativity, and expression
  • A gathering place for diverse communities throughout the library district
  • Individual and community benefits of personal health and wellness
  • Expert guidance in identifying reliable information sources  and the cultivation of information literacy

Are you trying to demonstrate the value of your library to stakeholders? Check out the study report for some ideas on documenting its quantifiable and non-quantifiable benefits.

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.

Nearly 1 in 5 full-time professional positions taken by 2011 LIS graduates were outside the LIS field

Nearly 1 in 5 full-time professional positions taken by 2011 LIS graduates were outside the LIS field

Weekly Number_LJ Placements_chart

Image credit: Library Journal 2012 Placements & Salaries Survey

Library Journal’s annual Placements and Salaries survey provides insight into where new LIS graduates are finding jobs, what they’re being paid, and for what kinds of positions. For the class of 2011, graduates reported a 5 percent increase in average starting salaries, fewer temporary and part-time positions, more “emerging” job titles (like “digital asset manager”), and more jobs outside LIS in fields like software engineering and user interface design. Even better news: the average job-seeking process took just under 5 months for this group of grads, with a job hunt of 3 months mentioned most frequently in the results.

For a closer look at the general LIS job market, check out our Fast Facts report on LRS’ own Library Jobline and trends spotted during 2012. If you’re in the hunt for a new position, sign up for custom job notifications by RSS and e-mail through our free job posting service or follow us on our jobs-devoted Twitter feed @libraryjobline.

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.

23% of U.S. teenagers have a tablet device

23% of U.S. teenagers have a tablet device

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In March of this year, the Pew Research Center conducted a study on teenage technology use, and found that mobile access to the internet among teens is “pervasive.” According to the study, almost half of teens (47%) own a smartphone, and almost 1 in 4 (23%) own a tablet (which is comparable to the general adult population). Additionally, almost 3 in 4 teens (74%) say that they use mobile devices to check the internet at least occasionally, and 1 in 4 (25%) claim to be “cell-mostly” internet users. This apparent enthusiasm for mobile technologies, such as tablet devices, has not yet been matched by the institutions charged with educating teens—not in Colorado, at least. For the 2012-2013 school year, responses to the Colorado School Library Survey indicate that in Colorado’s public high schools, there is a median of less than one tablet (0.67) with access to library resources per 100 students.

Are you looking for funding sources to purchase tablets for your library? Check out these links for possible grant opportunities:

For more information about technology in Colorado school libraries, see our Fast Facts, Colorado School Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies, 2011-2012, as well as the 2012-2013 Colorado School Library Survey results.

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.

2012-2013 Colorado School Library Survey data now available

2012-2013 Colorado School Library Survey data now available

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Every year, we conduct a survey of Colorado public school libraries. The results of this survey, which include information about library instruction strategies, collections, web presence, staffing, usage, and budgets, help administrators, school library staff, and other stakeholders with planning and evaluation. These results are also used to market and advocate for school libraries; for example, earlier this year we published a school library infographic that shows the impact of school libraries on academic achievement.

Results from the 2012-2013 survey are now available. We’re excited to present a brand new set of tools for interacting with the survey data. The tools will enable you to:

  • quickly locate data for a single year and statistic group
  • build custom data sets by specifying statistics, grade level, enrollment, etc.
  • visualize data using graphs
  • export data in .csv format

Check them out at http://www.lrs.org/data-tools/school-libraries/annual-statistics/!

60% of Colorado school librarians help students evaluate the credibility of information at least once a week

60% of Colorado school librarians help students evaluate the credibility of information at least once a week

student_skills

Image credit: Pew Internet

According to a Pew Research Center survey of more than 2,400 Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers, digital and web technologies are having beneficial and tangible impacts on student writing and skills needed for the future. When asked to rate the importance of various skills in contributing to their students’ success in life, the ability to judge the quality of information topped the list, with more than 9 out of 10 teachers calling it an “essential” skill for the future. School librarians are vital to building this skill, and the findings of our annual survey of Colorado public school libraries indicate that 60% of certified  librarians help students evaluate the credibility of information and web resources at least once a week.

Other skills deemed “essential” by a majority of teachers in the Pew survey include: behaving responsibly online, understanding online privacy issues, and finding information quickly. School librarians provide the foundation for such skills, by teaching students how to use digital resources, as well as how to use technology to organize and share information. Simply put, skills that teachers believe are important for the future are the same ones being taught by school librarians as part of everyday instruction.

Find out more about what skills Colorado school librarians are teaching with our newly released 2012-13 Colorado School Library Survey results, available at http://www.lrs.org/school/data/.

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.

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

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