Archive for the Public Category

Let’s Get Visual! Harnessing Data Visualization to Demonstrate a Library’s Impact

alacover

Are you interested in getting started with data visualization? Check out our column in the November/December 2016 American Libraries: Let’s Get Visual! In this column, we share four simple steps for visualizing your data.

Coming to CAL 2016? Join us for “Measuring Your True Impact: Getting Started With Outcome-Based Evaluation”

cal2016

Will you be at CAL 2016? If so, we hope you will join LRS on Thursday, October 20, 3:15-4:15 in Golden Glow for Measuring Your True Impact: Getting Started With Outcome-Based Evaluation:

Your library offers a lot of great programs, but how can you determine what effects these have on your users? In this session, you’ll learn practical tips for getting started with outcome-based evaluation. You will gain a deeper understanding of a) what outcomes are and how they work in conjunction with inputs and outputs to provide meaningful information about your library’s impact on your community; b) how to measure them (including an overview of several free or low-cost outcome survey tools; and c) how outcome-based evaluation results can be used for management, strategic planning, and demonstrating the value of your library programs.

Pew survey finds that 1 in 5 Americans have never visited a library

Pew_library visits

Image credit: Pew Internet

Pew Research recently released their annual report on attitudes of Americans towards their public libraries, Libraries 2016. Alongside a plethora of information detailing who is visiting public libraries and why, Pew also reported on those who are not visiting the library.

Among those surveyed, 1 in 5 (19%) said that they have never visited a public library or bookmobile. The demographic analysis of this data points to groups that the library could make a more concerted effort to reach. Someone who has never visited a library is most likely to be male (a quarter of all male respondents said they had never visited a library), part of a minority group (nearly a third of both black and Hispanic respondents), and have less education (29% of those with a high school degree or less). Members of other demographic groups also reported that they had never visited a library: about 1 in 10 of both those with college degrees (11%) and those in households earning $75,000 or more (12%).

Despite having never visited a library, respondents maintained a generally positive view of the libraries in their communities. More than half (56%) of non-users agree that closing the library would have a major impact on their communities, and about 1 in 5 (19%) think that it would have a major impact on their families. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of non-users thought that the library actually does provide them with the resources they need, so it is possible that they are still accessing library resources through friends and family.

The results of this survey revealed that the primary difference between frequent library users and non-users has to do with the information sources they trust. Respondents who had visited the library at least once in the past year were 39% more likely than non-users to agree “a lot” that libraries are a trustworthy information resource.

You can find more information about library non-visitors here, and the entire Libraries 2016 report can be found here.

Library Journal survey finds that digital audiobook circulation has risen by 86% in the past year

audiobooks_2016

Image credit: Library Journal

In the beginning of 2016, Library Journal surveyed 395 public libraries to create the Audiobooks and Public Libraries report. The findings included how often audiobooks are being circulated, the genres that are most popular to collect, and the changing format preference of audiobook patrons.

In 2015, audiobook circulation amounted to a little over 1 out of 10 items circulated (13%). A majority (66%) of the audiobooks circulated were physical CDs or Playaway players, rather than digital downloads. However, nearly 9 in 10 (86%) libraries reported an increase in digital audiobook circulation, while about one-third (35%) reported an increase in physical audiobook circulation. LibraryJournal projects that by 2019, downloadable and streaming audiobooks will make up 51% of an average public library’s collection, as opposed to 38% in 2016.

The audiobook collections of the libraries surveyed lean heavily towards adult fiction. Three-quarters (75%) of current audiobook collections are adult titles, while the remaining quarter (25%) is comprised of young adult and children’s titles. Across all titles, about 4 in 5 (79%) are fiction; for comparison, print book collections are typically about 60% fiction. Patron request is overwhelmingly the most important factor influencing audiobook purchases for the libraries surveyed. Others influencing factors included the popularity of the print book, positive reviews, and the audiobook’s narrator.

For more information about audiobook use in public libraries, check out the full report 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.

Survey finds that public library program attendance has steadily increased over the past 3 years

PLDS FY2014_program attendance

Image credit: Public Library Association

The Public Library Association (PLA) recently published the results of their Public Library Data Service Annual Survey. The survey data are from fiscal year 2014 and include finances, resources, service usage, and technology use in public libraries.

One finding documented in the report is the recent tendency of libraries to hire more non-MLS staff than MLS librarians. The percentage of staff with “librarian” in their job title has steadily increased over the past ten years to make up just under a third (31%) of all library staff. The average percentage of MLS-degreed librarians employed by reporting libraries increased by 2.4% since FY 2009, while non-MLS librarians increased by 3.5%. Non-MLS librarians currently represent about 4 in 10 (39%) of all librarian staff, the highest percentage since FY2009.

Libraries also reported steady increases in both the number of library programs offered and program attendance. Although growth has been reported for the past three years, FY2014 marked the fastest rate – programs offered by public libraries increased by 7.3%, while program attendance increased by 6.3%. As PLA notes, more library programming combined with declining circulation numbers suggests that libraries are shifting their service delivery priorities.

The full report provides a wealth of information about public libraries in the United States and 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.

Number of materials challenges in Colorado public libraries is relatively consistent from 2013 to 2015

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The Library Research Service’s latest Fast Facts report summarizes the results of our yearly investigation into the materials that are challenged in public libraries across Colorado. The report details the format, intended audience, reasons, and resolutions of challenges that were reported in the 2015 Public Library Annual Report. The information provided about these challenges help us to determine the attitude towards intellectual freedom in Colorado public libraries each year and to track changes over time.

In 2015, the number of challenges remained relatively consistent with what was reported in 2013 and 2014 – hovering just under 30 challenges across the three-year period.

Adults remained the most common audience for challenged materials, with 7 out of 10 (70%) challenges in 2015. However, challenges for children’s materials rose to just under a quarter (24%) of all challenges, up from 12% in 2014, and challenges for young adult material rose to about 1 out of every 5 (17%) challenges. As in 2014, the most common way to handle a challenge was to make no change at all, although there was an increase in librarians finding creative solutions to deal with complaints (“other” solutions were found for 10% of challenges). While “sexually explicit” remained the top reason for challenging an item, representing just over a quarter (26%) of all challenges, “violence” dropped from the second most frequent reason, with “unsuited to age group” and “other” rising to take its place.

The formats of materials challenged varied greatly in 2015 compared to previous years. Like last year, videos and books were the items challenged most, together comprising 80% of all challenges. However, there were no computer challenges in 2015, although that format made up about a third (32%) of all challenges the previous year. Formats that were challenged in 2015, but not in 2014, include periodicals, activities, and others (such as audiobooks and music). We can’t be sure about the reason for increasing challenges of various formats, but it may correspond with the expansion of the types of materials and programs offered by public libraries.

For more breakdowns of this data, check out the full 2015 Challenged Materials in Colorado Public Libraries Fast Facts report.

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.

Pew study finds that 97% of adult library users identify as lifelong learners

LifelongLearning_libraries

Image credit: Pew Research Center

Library visits help encourage learning in children, but what about in adults?

A Pew study has found that adults who use libraries are more likely to consider themselves to be “lifelong learners” – that is, actively pursuing learning opportunities and learning to embrace new technologies. These results came out of a larger report examining general lifelong learning habits among adults.

When presented with the statement “I think of myself as a lifelong learner,” a large majority (79%) of adults who had visited a library or bookmobile in that past year indicated that the statement describes them “very well.” The number of library users who consider themselves lifelong learners rounds out to nearly everyone in this group (97%) after adding in the 18% of respondents who thought the statement described them “somewhat well.” Comparatively, about 7 in 10 (69%) of those who have not used a library in the past year described themselves as lifelong learners.

This group of lifelong learners engages in learning pursuits at the library at a rate of about 1 in 5 (23%). Those most likely to use library resources to pursue their interests include women (27% of this group), those ages 65 and older (30% of this group), and those living in households earning less than $50,000 (29% of this group).

Library users are also more likely than non-library users to adopt and use technology to aid in personal learning pursuits. More than 9 in 10 (93%) library users regularly access the internet either from home or the library, and about  three-quarters (74%) of these adults report using social media.

For more information, you can find the full report here. You can also check out a previous LRS Number post about general trends in lifelong learning habits.

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.

Number of students in Colorado with severe reading deficiencies drops 2.7% since 2013

reading deficiencies_demographic

Image credit: Colorado Department of Education

According to a recent report by the Colorado Department of Education, the number of students with reading deficiencies has dropped since the Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ) Act was implemented in 2013. The READ Act was passed in 2012 with the goal of ensuring that every student in Colorado reaches reading proficiency by the end of third grade, a time that researchers have identified as a critical benchmark that often predicts academic success throughout school. Under this act, students identified as having a “severe reading deficiency” (SRD) receive intervention support until their teacher determines that the student is meeting reading expectations for their grade level.

In 2013, about 1 in 5 (16.5%) of K-3 students were identified as having a SRD. That number dropped to 14.4% in 2014, and even further to 13.8% in 2015, resulting in a 2.7% decrease in students having a SRD over the two years since the READ Act was implemented. This may not seem like a high percentage, but it equates to 6,059 students who are now less likely to struggle throughout school and are more likely to graduate high school than students with a SRD.

The numbers are even more impressive among students who remained in the same school district. Following the 2013 cohort of first-graders, those who had consistent support from the same district were more likely to catch up with their peers’ reading level; out of the 10,737 students identified as having a SRD, over half (54%) were reading at grade level by the time they reached third grade.

The full report contains a wealth of related information, including breakdowns of the data by region and demographic group. This information can be useful to school librarians to identify which students may need extra support with reading.

Check out the full report 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.

Almost three-quarters of U.S. adults self-identify as lifelong learners, according to Pew

Pew_LifelongLearning

Image credit: Pew Internet

One of the strongest values of libraries of all types is that of lifelong learning. Pew Research Center’s new study of personal and professional attitudes about learning reveals some significant trends about how American adults pursue their interests. Nearly three-fourths (73%) of U.S. adults consider themselves lifelong learners in some sense, with 74% identifying as “personal learners” and 63% of working adults identifying as “professional learners.”

Somewhat surprisingly, physical locations are still more important to Americans than digital technologies for seeking knowledge. At 81%, personal learners are 29% more likely to say that they learn at a physical location more than online. Professional learners prefer physical environments by a similar margin as well.

The U.S. adults surveyed by Pew cited many important impacts that lifelong learning has had. The biggest impact experienced by personal learners was helping them to feel more capable and well rounded, with almost a whopping 9 out of 10 (87%) indicating this impact. For professional learners, two-thirds (65%) said that professional learning expanded their professional network.

What is perhaps one of the most important findings of the study is that whether or not one identifies as a lifelong learner is greatly influenced by education, income, and access to digital technologies. For example, an overwhelming majority (87%) of those with at least one college degree participated in personal learning activities in the past 12 months, whereas only 60% of those with a high school degree or less did the same. Pew found similar results based on income as well as having smartphones and home broadband connection. With this in mind, libraries are essential points of contact in the quest to bridge the digital divide and provide access to diverse learning opportunities for all members of a community.

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 this Thursday 4/28 for our webinar “Count Your Impact: Getting Started with Outcome-Based Evaluation”

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Are you wondering why everyone in the library world is talking about outcomes? Join us this Thursday, April 28, 12:00-1:00 MDT, for our webinar “Count Your Impact: Getting Started with Outcome-Based Evaluation,” and learn what all of the fuss is about. During our time together, you will gain a deeper understanding of what outcomes are, how to measure them (including an overview of several free and/or low-cost outcome survey tools), and how outcome-based evaluation results can be used for strategic decision-making and demonstrating the impact of your library. You can find out more information and access the online classroom via this link: http://cslinsession.cvlsites.org/upcoming/count-your-impact-getting-started-with-outcome-based-evaluation/.

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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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