Top toys & games offered by libraries


Image credit: Denver Public Library

Looking to expand your entertainment options? Check out some of our favorite toys and games offered by libraries across the country:

What toys or games does your library offer? Share a story or two 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.

More than two-thirds of Americans have high or medium engagement with public libraries


Image credit: Pew Internet

Library data geeks rejoice! Pew Research recently issued its third stage of research about public libraries, this time presenting a typology that clusters Americans into certain groups based on their connection to libraries. The result is a rich and complex portrait of how public libraries fit into people’s lives—we highly recommend reading the full report! To briefly highlight some of the findings, we’ll focus on the highest engaged library users and non-library users.

Three in 10 adults—Library Lovers and Information Omnivores—are highly engaged with public libraries. They’re active community participants, heavy readers, and highly value library services. And they offer one of the most compelling facts about this Pew report: This group of people also includes some of the highest technology users of the sample group. Demographically, this group tends to be younger, female, and well-educated. Members of this group were also likely to be parents, students, and job-seekers—perfect life stages for using those storytimes, resume classes, and research databases.

What about that 14% who have never used a public library? The Distant Admirers (10% of the population) still view libraries positively and feel library services are important to them and their families. The Off the Grid group (4% of the population) is quite distant from the library—although three-fourths of them recognize it would be easy for them to visit a library in person—but this parallels their disengagement with their communities, neighbors, news, and technology.

And exciting news: Pew plans to release a library user type quiz widget for libraries to embed on their websites and capture data on how their community uses the library and compare it to the national picture.

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.

During the next two weeks, 75,000 copies of the book “Grumpy Bird” will be given out to all 4-year-olds in Colorado


One Book 4 Colorado (OB4CO) is a collaborative effort between Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia’s office, Reach Out and Read Colorado, the Colorado State Library, the Denver Preschool Program, public libraries, the private sector, and the nonprofit and foundation communities. It is based on the idea that providing young children with access to books promotes early literacy and helps families serve as their children’s first and most important teachers.

OB4CO is an annual event that started in 2012. Each year, a book is selected to be given away to all 4-year-olds in Colorado over a two-week period in the spring. This year’s book is Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard. Between April 7 and April 21, 75,000 copies of the book will be distributed via public libraries, health clinics, and preschools in the Denver Preschool Program. Interested in getting a book? You can find pickup locations here.

Evaluation results from last year’s OB4CO giveaway indicate that the program was a great success! Of those parents who completed a survey about the program, about half said that they spent more time reading with their child after OB4CO. And, 4 out of 5 of the participating agencies reported that the book giveaway helped them promote reading among young children. One parent commented: “My daughter is pre-reading, so she is very encouraged that she can ‘read’ parts of this book with me–I will read ‘hello cow,’ and she can ‘read’ the animal noise from the next line. It is really great for her self esteem!”

Want to learn more about early literacy and libraries? Check out our Weekly Number post about the Supporting Parents in Early Literacy Through Libraries (SPELL) project and our Fast Facts, “Early Literacy Information on Colorado Public Library 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.

In 2012, 1 in 4 academic libraries offered text reference

NCES 2012 ALS highlights

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently released its first look at the 2012 Academic Libraries Survey, which collects data on academic library collections, staff, expenditures, and information literacy services. Here are some of our favorite highlights:

  • 252.6M e-books were held at U.S. academic libraries; 52.7 million of them were added in fiscal year 2012.
  • Academic libraries conducted 28.9 million individual reference services.
  • Academic libraries spent about $1.4 billion on electronic current serial subscriptions, or about half of the $2.8 billion total spent on information resources.
  • More than 3 of 4 (77%) libraries offered reference services by email or online.
  • More than half (55%) incorporated information literacy into student success or learning outcomes.
  • About a quarter (24%) used text or SMS to deliver reference services.
  • Librarians and other professionals made up about 40% of FTE staff at academic libraries.

The full NCES report is available here. And, check out some of our other recent academic library coverage 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.

Three-fourths of internet users say the internet has been good for society


Image credit: Pew Research

The internet has had a transformative impact on Americans’ lives, and libraries have taken that impact in stride, offering equipment, infrastructure, and navigation assistance sought by patrons across the country. To mark the 25th anniversary of the Web, Pew Research recently released new survey results that demonstrate the internet’s powerful role in our everyday lives.

We know internet use is wide-spread, with more than 4 in 5 adults using it. But some of the most interesting findings in this research are related to how we view the internet. Despite the vitriol and trolls lurking in comment areas, about 3 in 4 internet users thought interactions were mostly kind. More than half have seen an online group or community come together to solve a problem or help someone. Interestingly, younger internet users (18-29) tended to see more of the good and the bad sides of the internet—being treated kindly and unkindly themselves and seeing people come together and tear each other down—than older users.

Two-thirds say the web has strengthened relationships with family and friends. And more than half of internet users say the internet would be very hard to give up—still more than the 49% of cell phone owners who say the same thing about their phone! Importantly, of those who said the web would be hard to give up, most (61%) said the internet was “essential for job-related or other reasons.”

Of course libraries are well aware of these trends. Most have websites and the number of libraries that offer mobile-friendly websites is increasing accordingly as smartphone usage increases. And with new research breaking down library users and non-users by type, we can also understand the role technology plays in the lives of our users based on their engagement with our services. How has your library changed in the 25 years since the web was created?

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.

8,956: Number of public libraries in the U.S. in FY2011


The Institute of Museum and Library Services recently released a preview of its Fiscal Year 2011 Public Libraries in the United States Survey, a compilation of responses of 98% of public libraries in the country. (Here in Colorado, our Public Library Annual Report—which just wrapped up data collection for 2013—contributes data to the IMLS survey). The full report is forthcoming, but here are a few of our favorite stats:

  • 95% of the U.S. population is served by nearly 9,000 public libraries.
  • Libraries saw 1.53 billion visits – that’s more than 4.2 million visits per day! (And it’s important to note that that doesn’t include virtual visits.)
  • 2.44 billion materials circulated, or just over 8 items per person.
  • What’s going up: public library program attendance (for the 8th year in a row), number of programs, number of collection materials, number of public access Internet computers.
  • What’s going down: number of FTE staff, in-person visits, number of usage sessions of public access Internet computers. It’s important to note that in the national survey, wireless access uses are not counted, although some states, including Colorado, collect this information. In Colorado, the number of wireless access uses reported increased by 62% from 2011 to 2012.
  • At the same time, the overall number of public librarians has been pretty stable for the past 10 years, hovering around an average 4.0 librarians per 25,000 people.

We’ll be watching for the full report release here. In the meantime, check out IMLS’s state-by-state profiles, and you can find Colorado’s here. Of course you can always access the most recent results from Colorado’s Public Library Annual Report through our interactive tool right here at! We just posted the 2013 preliminary data file.

 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.

More than half of Millennials have shared a selfie, but how many have posted a #libraryshelfie?


Image credit: Linkoping Bibliotek via New York Public Library

Those of you who are familiar with LRS staff may know that a couple of us–Dave and Linda–are photographers. So, we were excited to come across a statistic that touched on our interests in both libraries and photography: a recent Pew study found that more than half of Millennials (ages 18-33) have shared a selfie online, as have about one-fourth of all Americans.

How does this relate to libraries? In January, the New York Public Library designated a day as “library shelfie day.” On this day, they invited patrons to share photos of books (their library’s or their own) on social media with the hashtag #libraryshelfie. Other libraries, such as those at the University of San Francisco, University of California-Davis, and Delaware County Community College joined in on the fun, either by encouraging their users to participate, or by posting photos of their special collections and their staff with their favorite books.

Did your library participate in #libraryshelfie day? If not, why not hold your own event? This is a nice opportunity to encourage your users to engage with you on social media, as well as to reach out to Millennials, who, according to the Pew data, are particularly likely to share.

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 PLA to learn how to create a data-based elevator speech


Will you be attending PLA next week? If so, we hope you will join us for our session, “Minute to Win It: Make the Case for Your Library with a Data-Based Elevator Speech.” Here are the details:

Minute to Win It: Make the Case for Your Library with a Data-Based Elevator Speech
Linda Hofschire & Meghan Wanucha
Friday, March 14, 10:45 am-12:00 pm
Indiana Convention Center, room 101

Does your elevator speech sound more like elevator music? Learn how to add meaning and value to it by brainstorming and sharing examples of how to combine statistics with stories to craft a powerful advocacy message for various stakeholders. You are encouraged to bring data from your annual Public Library Survey results and/or any other statistics you collect about your library for use in drafting your own elevator speech.

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A survey of US and Canadian public libraries found that 93% offer digital readers’ advisory


Image credit: Library Journal

Amid the chatter of new technologies and service models, sometimes more “traditional” library services can be lost in the noise. Library Journal surveyed nearly 700 public libraries in the U.S. and Canada to get a better picture of one of those traditional services: readers’ advisory (RA).

While every single library offered personal RA in the library, the actual service model varied. A strong majority (85%) offered RA at the reference desk, and 59% offered the service at the circulation desk. Nearly all respondents also offered self-directed RA, ranging from book displays (94%) to printed resources (75%) to shelf talkers (39%). Digital RA is also popular—more than 9 in 10 libraries (93%) offered it—with most service taking the form of online resources like book lists and read-alikes. Social media is also a popular outlet, with about half of libraries (49%) using social tools specifically for book recommendations.

Nearly 3 in 5 public libraries (59%) measured RA services in some way, typically through usage statistics from e-resources like NoveList (38%) or tracking the number of RA-related questions (24%). Unfortunately, measuring general RA service success is much more limited, with just 9% of libraries monitoring return RA business and only 4% offer a feedback loop on the quality of staff recommendations.

Interestingly, at 7 out of 10 public libraries, RA services were provided by the entire staff. About a quarter of libraries (26%) had certain staff or subject specialists who offered RA, and less than 1 in 10 (9%) had full-time readers’ advisors on staff. Generally, staff felt challenged when faced with keeping up with new books, authors, and genres, but most (61%) rely on book recommendation databases like NoveList and professional journals (42%) to keep up with trends.

Check out our other recent Weekly Number posts where we discuss reports on adults’ reading habits and children’s consumption of educational media.

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.

Median e-book circulation in U.S. public libraries more than doubled in 2013

LJ_Ebook usage

Image credit: Library Journal

Last week, we highlighted some of Pew Internet’s recent findings on Americans’ reading habits, including trends in e-book reading and tablet usage. For the library perspective, Library Journal offers an annual survey on how e-books are being used and adopted in U.S. public libraries. In its fourth year, the 2013 survey includes data from more than 500 libraries about e-book circulation, collection, and acquisition.

Generally, e-book demand has eased off and collections are more stable, all while circulation continues to grow. Of those libraries surveyed, nearly 9 of 10 (89%) libraries offer e-books—the same as in 2012—and a quarter of those who don’t offer e-books planned to start in the upcoming year. Median e-book collection size continues to grow, rising from 5,080 in 2012 to 7,380 in 2013. Median circulation more than doubled from 2012, and it surpassed the 12,000 mark in 2013. This despite that 91% of public libraries’ e-book titles are lent using a one-title/one-user model and the average holds-to-copy ratio was 6 to 1.

As is to be expected, respondents reported the major barriers to e-book usage were limited numbers of e-books and availability of popular titles. And the public is still having trouble making the e-book checkout process work: More than 2 in 5 (43%) respondents said they heard patrons ask for help downloading e-books on their devices every day. Resources to purchase e-books are also limited, but libraries seem to be making do, whether by reallocating funds from elsewhere in the materials budget or looking to consortia for help.

Read the full report, available for download courtesy of Library Journal, to learn out more about how public libraries are handling everything from device lending programs to purchasing terms. And check out statistics on e-books in Colorado’s public libraries through our interactive data tool at

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.