Archive for the Academic Category

Study of academic librarians finds that less than 1 in 5 respondents felt that their MLIS program adequately prepared them to conduct original research

College & Research Libraries recently published the results of a 2015 survey of academic librarians measuring their attitudes, involvement, and perceived ability to conduct academic research. This report provides an update to a similar study completed in 2010. The survey questions covered four topics: reading and conducting research, confidence in conducting research, training in research methods, and institutional support.

Over 4 in 5 (84%) of the academic librarians surveyed say that they are expected to read academic research on librarianship as part of their jobs, and about the same portion (80%) say that they are given time on the job to keep up with research. However, a little less than 3 in 5 (58%) respondents say that they regularly read the full text of research articles. Along with reading relevant research, about three-quarters (77%) of respondents have conducted their own research since completing their MLIS.

To measure confidence, respondents ranked themselves from 1 (not at all confident) to 5 (very confident) on several steps of the research process. The academic librarians responding to the survey were confident in completing many steps of the research process – most respondents answered that they are “very confident” in tasks like determining the appropriate research methods to use, using relevant keywords to find literature relevant to their research, and gathering data.

Confidence falls when it comes to analyzing data. Half (50%) of the respondents say that they are “not at all confident” in knowing which statistical tests to run. A similar number (53%) of respondents reported taking any course in statistical analysis, and about half (46%) of those respondents took that course as part of their undergraduate degree, not as part of the MLIS. Given the lack of statistics training as part of the MLIS, perhaps it is not surprising that less than 1 in 5 (17%) respondents feel that their MLIS program adequately prepared them to conduct original research.

The 2010 survey led to the creation of the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship (IRDL), a continuing education opportunity for academic and research librarians to learn the components of the research process. IRDL will be accepting applications for their 2019 Institute starting December 1.

The full report of the 2015 survey can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

“Quotable Facts about Colorado Libraries” highlights libraries working for access, knowledge, and community in Colorado

LRS recently released the latest version of Quotable Facts about Colorado Libraries, a booklet containing data and statistics about public, school, and academic libraries in Colorado. The booklet focuses on libraries working with and for their patrons, broken down into three sections: libraries working for access, knowledge, and community.

Public, school, and academic libraries circulated more than 22 items for each person in the state in the past year, which provided Coloradans with access to about 123 million items overall. More than 1 in 10 Colorado households do not have access to a computer or the internet at home, but all Colorado public libraries offer free public access internet computers and public wireless internet. Public library patrons use public access wifi at their libraries more than 10,000 times each day.

Colorado’s libraries have nearly 6,000 staff that work to provide knowledge to Coloradans. Public librarians answered about 3.6 million reference questions last year, ranging from researching family genealogy to applying for Social Security online. Every week, 7 in 10 (69%) school librarians teach their students how to use digital resources to find information.

Libraries help build community by providing meeting spaces and programming that offer Coloradans an opportunity to connect with each other. There are 6 times as many libraries in Colorado than there are Starbucks coffee shops, another popular meeting space. The Read to the Children program, run by institutional libraries in Colorado’s state prisons, allowed nearly 3,000 children to stay connected with incarcerated family members in the past year.

An online infographic version of the booklet is available here. If you are interested in receiving printed booklets (3.5 inches by 3 inches), contact us at (303)866-6900 or lrs@lrs.org.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation study shows that academic library employees remain mostly female and white despite a push for diversity

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recently released the results of a study examining diversity in academic libraries. Ithaka S+R was commissioned to survey member institutions of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) to find out how the academic library community perceives its progress towards more inclusive and diverse libraries.

Across the ARL libraries surveyed, about 3 in 5 (61%) library staff are women and 2 in 5 are men (38%). These gender ratios remain consistent across levels of management and seniority, but begin to vary among different positions within the library. More than 4 in 5 (84%) library communications positions are filled by women. Finance/development, human resources, and information literacy/teaching topped out the female-skewed positions (between 72%-82% female). Positions primarily staffed by men include security (73% men), technology (70%), maker space/design lab (65%), and facilities/operations (64%). When directors of the participating institutions were asked how their library compared to others in terms of gender equality, they considered their own library to be less inclusive than the larger academic library community.

In addition to being a largely female profession, 7 in 10 (71%) academic library staff members are white non-Hispanic. Unlike gender, ethnicity varies across management and seniority levels – nearly 9 in 10 (87%) senior staff are white non-Hispanic. Academic library directors considered their own library to be more equitable in terms of race and ethnicity compared to the library community, but felt that their libraries were less racially diverse than the library community. The directors surveyed mostly attributed the lack of diversity to external factors that might be limiting the number of job applicants from diverse backgrounds rather than internal factors like bias in the interview process or an inclusive library culture.

For more information about diversity in academic libraries, the full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Colorado Academic Librarians Explore Services for Transfer Students

Note: This study will be presented on October 12, 2017, 3:15-4:15, at the Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL) Annual Conference (“Transfer Connection: Academic Library Services for Transfer Students“).

Transfer students are a unique population in academic libraries because their experiences vary widely: some are familiar with their community college library and then transfer to a four-year setting while others transfer between two and four-year institutions of different sizes. A team of librarian-researchers from University of Colorado-Boulder and Colorado Community Colleges Online (CCCOnline) are working together to learn more about serving this type of student. “I would discover that there were transfer students and they felt like they had missed out on the freshman level information literacy class that we typically offer,” explained participating librarian Megan Welsh of CU Boulder.

In spring 2017, Lindsay Roberts (CU Boulder), Megan Welsh (CU Boulder), and Brittany Dudek (CCCOnline) designed and distributed a survey about transfer students for academic librarians. “Specifically, we were really interested to know if libraries were doing outreach activities or instruction to transfer students as a unique population on our campuses,” Roberts said.

The research team determined their sample by using data from the Colorado Department of Higher Education to identify the four-year institutions that were receiving transfer students as well as all two-year schools in the state. This totaled 57 institutions, and the survey was sent to 44 of them (the team eliminated institutions that had closed or were closing or hadn’t transferred any students to public four-year institutions in 2015).  Fifty-five librarians responded representing 30 higher education institutions in the state: 20 four-year schools and 10 two-year schools. About three-fourths of the respondents (76%) worked in four-year schools. Only two of the libraries at four-year institutions represented by respondents were currently offering information literacy instruction specifically tailored to this group.

The survey also gathered information about the kinds of information literacy activities being used by libraries at two-year and four-year institutions. The largest difference between implementation of activities was for courses with an embedded librarian, which 80% of four-year library respondents use and 30% of two-year library respondents use.  Another large difference was in the usage of handouts: 100% of two-year library respondents use them, and 65% of four-year library respondents use them. See the chart below for additional results:

Moving forward, the research team plans to continue working together to address questions about transfer students. CU Boulder libraries launched a new event this fall to welcome transfer students to the library, a fall picnic and information session.

Interested in learning more? The research team will be hosting a CAL conference session, “Transfer Connection,” on October 12, 2017 to discuss this project and facilitate more conversation on this topic. They are hopeful that these kinds of conversations could lead to increased collaboration across two- and four-year institutions and continual service improvement.

The number of jobs posted to Library Jobline has nearly tripled since 2009

 Library Jobline, LRS’s website for library job postings and resources, posted a record number of jobs in 2016 and saw a continued increase in the number of people using the website to post and search for jobs. Data collected from the Library Jobline website are highlighted in the most recent Fast Facts report.

In 2016, 673 library jobs were posted to Library Jobline, with May being the busiest month for job postings (73 posts). More than two-thirds (69%) of jobs posted were located in Colorado, and over half (53%) were full-time positions. A majority of jobs posted were in public libraries (66%), while 1 in 5 (20%) were academic library jobs. Jobs in institutional libraries, school libraries, and other institutions made up the remaining posts.

Salaries for library positions have also remained steady after an increase from post-recession lows. Average hourly salaries for Academic library positions ($21.96) were similar to last year, and Public library positions ($22.09) increased by 6% since 2015. The average hourly salary for School libraries ($19.22) recovered from its low in 2015 ($16.62). Average salaries for positions not requiring an MLIS jumped about another dollar to $18.12/hour, while average salaries for jobs requiring an MLIS continued to hover around $24.28/hour.

Subscriptions to Library Jobline have also continued to grow, with 556 new jobseekers and 154 new employers added in 2016. This led to more than 823,000 emails with job opportunities sent to jobseekers –more than 2,000 emails a week!

Are you hiring at your library? In the library job market yourself? Sign up for Library Jobline as an employer or jobseeker. Jobseekers can specify what jobs they’re interested in and get emails sent straight to their inbox whenever new posts meet their criteria. Employers can also reach nearly 5,000 jobseekers and more than 1,000 followers on Twitter @libraryjobline.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Utrecht University Library study examines the future of bookshelves in the library

As libraries increasingly focus on digital information resources, librarians are left wondering what the interior of the library will look like in the future if most of their materials can be found online rather than on bookshelves. The Utrecht University Library (UUL) attempted to answer this question in a recent study undertaken to predict what the role of library bookshelves will be by 2025.

Librarians at UUL looked at their acquisition data to determine the changing ratio of paper and digital books and journals in the library’s collection. They found that since 2014, 90% of UUL’s acquisitions budget was spent on digital publications and databases. In that same time frame, 4 in 5 (80%) of all of UUL’s paper publications were moved off of the open library shelves and placed in depositories. However, some students and faculty specifically request that their materials be bought in paper format – three-quarters (75%) of all the paper books purchased in 2016 were for Humanities students and faculty, and half (50%) of all publications on UUL’s open shelves had a Humanities background.

UUL researchers also distributed a survey to library users to better understand how their patrons were using the open shelves to look for information. They found that while about half (51%) of faculty always or frequently use materials from UUL’s open shelves, undergraduate and graduate students rarely do. In focus group sessions, faculty said that they found it easier to get an impression of the available literature on a subject by standing in front of a shelf, rather than scrolling through ebooks or databases. Conversely, students said that it was quicker to search through the library’s online resources than it was to make a trip to the library.

Students did acknowledge the environmental advantage of having open shelves in the library. Both undergraduate and graduate students said that they liked having the bookshelves around while they studied because they “create an intellectually stimulating and supportive environment.”

For more predictions about the future of library bookshelves, check out the full report here.

Academic librarians estimate that only 28% of first-year students are prepared for college-level research

In January & February of 2017, Library Journal surveyed college and university libraries about their services for first-year students. The survey was sent to 12,000 academic libraries. In total, 543 schools participated: 399 four-year schools, and 144 two-year schools. The results were initially shared at the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) 2017 conference.

Respondents reported that, in their opinion, only 28% of first-year students are prepared for college-level research. Four-year and two-year academic librarians agreed that evaluating resources for reliability is a major challenge for first-year students.

The majority of participating libraries (97%) reported that they offer information literacy instruction for first-year students. Most of the time information literacy instruction is optional. It was mandated at 22% of four-year institutions and 7% of two-year schools. Librarians embedded within courses is more rare, with 35% of four-year schools and 23% of two-year schools offering that option. While information literacy instruction is offered widely, only 23% of respondents have a specific information literacy or first-year experience librarian.  When asked about the ACRL Information Literacy Framework, Respondents most frequently used the “Research as Inquiry” and “Searching as Strategic Exploration” areas in their instruction, and least frequently used “Information Creation as a Process.”

Most respondents’ schools (90%) measure first-year student success. This takes a variety of forms, for example student retention rates, student satisfaction, and GPA. Not all academic libraries, however, have attempted to correlate information literacy or library experiences for first-year students with indicators of student success.  While the importance of information literacy is clear to librarians, what types of data could show a quantifiable connection between student success and information literacy?  Separately from the Library Journal study, librarians at the University of Minnesota have been researching this connection. Check out their studies for more information.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Wisconsin HOPE Lab survey finds half of all community college students are struggling with food and/or housing insecurity

Image credit: The HOPE Lab

The HOPE Lab at the University of Wisconsin recently published a report detailing the results their survey of more than 4,000 community college students to answer a pressing question: what happens to economically insecure students that enroll in community college and are unable to keep up with the cost? As the cost of higher education increases more quickly than inflation, wages, and need-based financial aid, students are struggling to meet basic food and housing needs, compromising their cognitive functions and their ability to perform well in school.

Survey respondents indicated that they are often unable to afford to eat balanced meals. Over half (52%) of respondents said that they were at least marginally food insecure in the last thirty days, meaning that they felt anxiety over food sufficiency or shortage of food. More than a quarter (28%) of respondents said that they ate smaller meals or skipped meals to save money, and more than 1 in 5 (22%) said that they had gone hungry due to lack of money.

In addition to facing food insecurity, more than half (52%) of all respondents reported that they had experienced at least one form of housing insecurity in the past year. Students struggled most with paying rent on time (22%), or having not fully paid rent (18%) or utility payments (22%) that were past due.  Students faced varying levels of housing insecurity, with homelessness being the most severe. More than 1 in 10 (13%) survey respondents indicated that they experienced homelessness at least once in the past year.

These numbers indicate the need for action to be taken to ease the obstacles presented by poverty so that every student has the opportunity for educational success. Since libraries act as a campus hub, homeless students will frequently use them as a place of refuge before, after, or between classes.  Librarians and library staff are perfectly positioned to identify students that might be experiencing food and/or housing insecurity and can point them towards campus and community resources for students experiencing economic insecurity.

The full report can be found here. An example of a library guide for students experiencing homelessness can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

More than three-fourths of survey respondents are likely to buy a state parks day pass after participating in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Colorado State Library program Check Out Colorado State Parks

 

 

 

 

Check Out Colorado State Parks, the result of a partnership between Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado State Library, provides 287 Colorado libraries with two park passes and adventure backpacks filled with information and educational activities. Patrons of participating public, military, and academic libraries can check out a backpack for a week at a time to visit state parks for free.

Between June and November 2016, 720 patrons completed a survey about their experience with the program. The results indicated that most patrons (97%) were likely to recommend a visit to a state park, and more than three-fourths (77%) were likely to buy a state park day pass. In addition, 85% agreed that the experience helped them learn about nature, and 94% agreed that the program changed their view about what libraries have to offer.

See more highlights from the survey in our new Fast Facts.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Agree Fake News Has Caused “A Great Deal of Confusion”

Fakenews

Image credit: Pew Research

The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey on Americans’ sentiments about fake news.  Participants were asked to fill in the blank in the following sentence: “Completely made-up news has caused _____ about the basic facts of current events.” Nearly two out of three of U.S. adults surveyed (64%) said that completely made up news has caused a great deal of confusion. The Pew Research Center report highlights that this response was shared across “incomes, education levels, partisan affiliations and most other demographic characteristics.”

Participants were also asked about their confidence in their ability to recognize fake news. About 4 out of 10 (39%) people surveyed said they were “very confident” they could recognize made-up news, and an additional 45% said they were “somewhat confident.” Although people had high confidence in their abilities to recognize fake news, many people had still shared it online. Overall, about a quarter (23%) of respondents had shared made-up news, sometimes because they did not initially realize it was fake and sometimes for other reasons, like entertainment.

Finally, participants were asked whose responsibility it is to stop the spread of fake news. Respondents could select multiple groups with “great responsibility.” About 2 out of 5 people (43%) chose “members of the public,” a little less than half (45%) chose “the government, politicians, and elected officials,” and about 2 out of 5 (42%) chose “social networking sites and search engines.”

While librarians and librarians were not included specifically as a group that has a great responsibility to prevent the spread of fake news, many library publications–including American Libraries, School Library Journal, and Public Libraries Online–have pointed out the important role that strong information literacy skills play in preventing the spread of fake news, and how this vital skill set can be taught by librarians.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

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