Archive for the Public Category

74% of U.S. public libraries saw increase in operating budget in 2015, LJ survey finds


Image credit: Library Journal

According to Library Journal’s latest budget survey, U.S. public libraries continue to recover from the recession, but the pace of that that recovery may be slowing somewhat. Of the 371 libraries that responded to the survey, nearly three-quarters (74%) reported an increase in operating budgets between 2014 and 2015, which is equivalent to the 73% last year who reported the same.

Public library fiscal gains and losses were not equal across the board, however. Similar to the findings from last year, larger libraries (with a few exceptions) tended to see larger increases in their operating, materials, and staffing budgets. Overall, materials budgets saw a 3.7% increase and salary budgets rose 4%. The smallest libraries saw the most meager growth in their funding, a factor that has prevented many libraries serving small towns and rural areas from investing in new technology, providing new programs, or increasing their staff size.

Large libraries, or those that serve more than one million people, have seen the biggest gains since the recession. The materials budgets of large libraries grew more than four times (6.3%) that of the smallest libraries (1.2%) in the past year, and the largest libraries were able to increase the amount of hours they were open. In addition to this, it appears the largest libraries have been able to expand at a much higher rate. While three-quarters of the smallest libraries reported no change in their staffing numbers in the past year, nearly four-fifths (79%) of libraries serving more than one million increased full time equivalent positions by an average of 31 people per system.

This looks pretty promising for the largest libraries (especially those in urban, Southern centers according to the survey), but the benefits of library services continue to be skewed to a particular segment of the population. For those in small towns and rural areas, a shortage of funding can mean that libraries must make difficult decisions, especially regarding technology and outreach, which may leave the populations they serve further behind.

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.

Trends in U.S. Public Library Websites and Social Media


In 2008, we launched a longitudinal study to document the use of various web technologies (e.g., virtual reference, mobile friendliness, social networking, etc.) on the websites of public libraries throughout the U.S. The study was repeated in 2010, 2012, and 2014, expanding on the 2008 findings by tracking the trends in U.S. public libraries over time as well as by examining new technologies as they emerged. Our latest findings, from 2014, indicate that from 2012 to 2014, the percentage of library websites offering any type of mobile-friendly access increased, with the biggest change in libraries serving populations of under 10,000 (71% in 2014 vs. 17% in 2012). Mobile apps were offered by about 3 in 4 libraries serving 500,000+, and nearly 3 in 5 libraries serving under 10,000. About 2 in 5 libraries serving 500,000+ and 1 in 4 libraries serving 10,000-499,999 had websites with URLs that redirected to a mobile site when viewed on a mobile device. And, about 1 in 5 libraries (across all population sizes) had websites that used responsive design.

Find out more about our 2014 study in our Fast Facts reports summarizing highlights for both the U.S. and Colorado, as well as an expanded report that contains the study methodology and charts of all of the findings. And, stay tuned! In 2014, we expanded our study to include academic libraries. Those findings are coming soon.


Job postings on LibraryJobline have increased 188% since 2009


LibraryJobline, LRS’s website for library job postings and resources, saw its best year yet in 2015 in terms of jobs that were posted. In the latest Fast Facts Report, 656 total job postings were added to LibraryJobline last year, which is almost three times the number of job postings in LibaryJobline’s slowest year, 2009. More than two-thirds (68%) of those job postings were located in Colorado, and just over half (53%) of jobs were full-time, a slight decrease from the previous year.

Average librarian salaries are continuing to increase and surpass their recession levels, although significant progress is slow. Jobs not requiring an MLIS saw the biggest salary increase in 2015, up to $17.05 after hovering around $15.00 for the past several years. MLIS required ($24.80) and preferred ($22.37) saw slight decreases from the previous year, although they are both still well above the average starting salary for any year before 2014.

Subscriptions to the site continued to show healthy growth, with 546 new job seekers and 115 new employers added in 2015, and we sent 741,000 emails – the most ever in a single year!

Are you hiring at your library? In the library job market yourself? Sign up for Library Jobline as an employer or jobseeker. Jobseekers can tell us what jobs they’re interested in and get emails sent straight to their inbox whenever new posts meet their criteria. And employers can reach more than 4,000 jobseekers and more than 900 followers on Twitter @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.

American Libraries covers LRS session at ALA Midwinter


LRS staff enjoyed presenting “Data Visualization for the Rest of Us: A Beginner’s Guide” at ALA Midwinter. This was an encore presentation from the 2015 Research Institute for Public Libraries. Check out American Libraries’ coverage of the presentation to learn how we got started with data visualization as well as our tips for making numbers and charts more accessible.

And, don’t forget – registration for the 2016 Research Institute for Public Libraries opens January 26, 2016!

65% of Overdrive survey respondents say they visit a library in person or online at least once per week


Image credit: Overdrive

The ebook and audiobook platform Overdrive recently released results from a survey of public library website users that investigated their preferences and use of library resources, in particular print and digital books. More than 16,000 respondents shared their opinions and behaviors to shed light on how public libraries are meeting these users’ needs.

More than 2 in 5 (43%) of respondents reported visiting the library—either in person or online—more than once per week, with a total of 65% saying they visit at least once per week. Of course this survey polled those who were already at a library’s website, so this skews higher compared to broader surveys we’ve shared before (such as those from Pew Research).

Interestingly, respondents split 50-50 on whether they visit the library (again, in person or online) with a particular title in mind or without a title in mind. Split about a third each, respondents said they’d be willing to wait “as long as necessary” for a title (34%) or up to a month (32%). Perhaps most helpful to libraries is that if users are not willing to wait for a title, a majority (65%) said they wouldn’t buy the book instead. Users seem to understand the nature of library collections and that waiting is part of the process.

Respondents also shared their typical methods of discovering both physical and digital books. More than half (53%) said they only found books in a digital setting while 16% only found books in a library or bookstore (physical setting). About a third (31%) relied on both digital and in-person options to find books.

Learn more about how Overdrive’s survey respondents reading and library habits with the full report 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.

Public Library Survey Compare Tool re-released to the public

PLS compare tool

For all your public library data needs as we wind down 2015, check out the newly re-released Public Library Survey (PLS) Compare Tool from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and its national Public Library Survey. The tool features data from about 9,000 public libraries in the United States and territories. The most recent available data is from Fiscal Year 2013.

The tool is handy for looking at other libraries based on variables and comparisons you select. You can also choose specific public libraries you’d like to compare if you’re looking to do some benchmarking.

Find all of IMLS’s public library data tools at

LJ Financial Literacy Survey suggests over half of library cardholders would attend financial literacy training (if they knew about it)


Image credit: Library Journal

As the variety of program topics increases in public libraries, financial literacy training has emerged as a common topic in many libraries, especially since the recession. Financial literacy training seeks to educate and provide strategies about how to manage one’s money and prepare for financial planning. Yet Library Journal’s 2015 Financial Literacy Survey suggests that these services are not being used by cardholders as much as they could be.

Out of 10 options, libraries ranked last as a source of financial information among the 1,466 library cardholders surveyed across 230 libraries. Just under one-fifth (18%) of those surveyed ranked it as a possible source, even though well over half (61%) of librarians surveyed said that they offered financial services.

Library Journal proposes that the biggest challenge to public libraries is actually getting the word out about financial literacy training, since their survey indicated that more people would likely attend these events if only they knew about them. More than half (55%) of those surveyed said they would be willing to attend financial programming if they knew about it, and in addition to that an overwhelming majority (87%) said they trust financial information they receive from public libraries.

The good news is that any public library can create financial literacy programming that is both inexpensive and appeals to patrons. One librarian surveyed was able to put on a week-long programming event for just $200. The survey also found that programming that integrated financial training for children saw higher attendance, a proactive strategy that helps to develop financial literacy early on in life while also opening up conversation among adults.

Get ideas for how your public library can jump-start its financial literacy programming, and read the full report, 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.

Congratulations to the 7 Colorado Star Libraries for 2015!


Image credit: Library Journal

7 libraries in Colorado have been named Star Libraries by the 2015 Library Journal Index of Public Library Service. Colorado ranks 11th out of 41 states with star libraries, and is tied with three other states (Indiana, Alabama, and Missouri) that also have 7 star libraries. The 7 star libraries in Colorado are:

  • Arapahoe Library District
  • Denver Public Library
  • Douglas County Libraries
  • Holyoke/Heginbotham Library
  • La Veta Regional Library District
  • Limon Memorial Library
  • San Miguel Library District #1 (Telluride)

Although a few libraries that were Colorado star libraries last year are no longer represented on the list, Holyoke/Higenbotham is a new addition to the star library cohort this year.

The LJ Index, which is used to determine star libraries around the country, is a measure that compares public libraries with others that have similar expenditures based on the output measures of circulation, library visits, program attendance, and public internet computer use. Output measures (as opposed to other measures used for library assessment, inputs and outcomes), are quantifiable measures of various services that the library renders. These outputs are based on data provided by public libraries in the IMLS Public Library Survey.

The kinds of outputs measured by the LJ Index have begun and will continue to change over the next several years. For example, the 2015 star library ratings are the first to include e-circulation as part of its measures, and the 2016 ratings will be the first to account for all reference transactions, including virtual. This is an attempt to control for the fact that many library visits and services today are virtual as opposed to physical. Another factor that will affect the star library ratings in the coming years is increasing competition; more libraries than ever before, a whopping 7,663, were scored on the LJ Index in 2015.

This year’s report also includes a handy how-to on DIY LJ Index projects, so you can figure out how to leverage the index data to evaluate how your library stacks up against its peers. Whether or not your library was named a star library this year, you can find all of the data 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.


RIPL 2016 Facilitator Opportunity


Are you interested in attending the 2016 Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL)? Do you have facilitation skills that you want to use at RIPL?

We will be selecting up to 10 RIPL participants to serve as facilitators during the institute.  Facilitators should…

  • already be planning to participate in RIPL because of their interest in strengthening their skills in data and evaluation,
  • have experience facilitating small group activities and discussions, and
  • be committed to encouraging participant involvement in group activities and discussions and fostering connections among participants, instructors, and staff.

Prior experience with data and evaluation is a bonus, but is not required.


RIPL is designed to be an immersive and highly participatory learning experience, and RIPL facilitators play a vital role in insuring that participants are actively engaged in the hands-on activities and discussions that occur throughout the institute. Facilitators are assigned to groups of 6-7 participants, and they sit with their groups during general sessions and some meals to facilitate group work. Groups change several times during the institute, so facilitators will work with 2-3 groups across the 3-day event.

RIPL facilitators have the full participant experience. Facilitators will participate in the same sessions as everyone else, be able to choose which breakouts to attend, etc. The only difference is that facilitators will have some added benefits and responsibilities, as described below.

Facilitator Benefits:

Benefits to facilitators include:

  • Reduced registration fee: $1,165 (20% discount). This fee includes the curriculum, three nights lodging, and most meals.
  • Guaranteed spot at RIPL 2016.
  • Enhanced experience because of the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the institute design and curriculum.

 Facilitator Responsibilities:

Pre-institute responsibilities include the following:

  • Attending two 60 minute pre-institute webinars to learn more about the facilitator role and to become familiar with the group work that instructors have planned.
  • Reviewing any discussion guides, activity instructions, etc. that instructors provide ahead of time.

During RIPL, facilitators are responsible for:

  • Sitting with their assigned group (6-7 participants) during general sessions and some meals and facilitating discussions, learning activities, etc.
  • Connecting the members of their group with RIPL instructors/staff if they have questions or want to discuss topics that they aren’t able to address.
  • Connecting with other facilitators at touch points in the institute as necessary.
  • Providing feedback at the end of the institute about their facilitation experience.

How to Apply:

 To be considered for a facilitator position, you must submit an application by 6:00 pm MST on Friday, December 11, 2015. Learn more about the application process and access the online application form here. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance status before the end of December.

LJ reports that more than four-fifths of new library graduates are employed full time, up 19% from 2013


Image credit: Library Journal

Library Journal has released the findings from their 2015 Placement & Salaries Survey, which tracks yearly trends in employment among newly graduated MLIS students. In 2014, out of 4,331 estimated library school graduates, 32% participated in Library Journal’s survey. The results show an overall increase in full-time employment among new graduates, as well as steadily increasing salaries, though many new librarians are frustrated at the rigor of the application process and the number of available entry-level positions that actually require an MLIS degree.

The number of new library school graduates with full-time employment increased from 70% in 2013 to 83% in 2014. What’s more, those new graduates are earning even more starting off; starting salaries increased 2.9% from 2013, to $46,987. Women’s salaries increased slightly more than men’s as well, which represents a modest gain in closing the gender wage gap, though men continue to earn 14.9% more than women.

Of course, all regions and job titles are not experiencing these trends equally. The Pacific reported the highest average salaries, while the Southeast had the lowest, and the Northeast and Midwest were close to the average. These differences did, however, correspond closely to standard cost of living differences. One shift across the board is the fact that the highest paid positions are increasingly ones with non-traditional titles – positions that contain phrases such as “software developer,” “usability designer,” “data analyst,” etc. Meanwhile, many new graduates expressed frustration that some other full-time positions did not appear to require an MLIS at all

You can peruse all of Library Journal’s data on salaries and placement 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.

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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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