LRS is excited to announce the release of our most recent Closer Look report, “The Impact of the Recession on Public Library Use in Colorado.” We examined Colorado public library use prior to and after the recession’s onset. Our findings indicated that from 2006 to 2007 (prior to the recession), visits per capita, circulation per capita, program attendance per 1,000 served, and Internet computer use per capita remained relatively static or decreased in Colorado public libraries.
In contrast, visits, circulation, and program attendance all increased during the recession (from 2007 to 2009) by at least 11 percent for libraries serving large communities (populations of 25,000 or more). Higher use during this period was also seen in resort communities. Visits, circulation, program attendance, and Internet computer use all increased by between 6 percent and 28 percent in public libraries serving these communities. Libraries serving small communities (populations under 25,000) were not included in the study because of missing and anomalous data.
Public libraries have been a key resource for Coloradans during both the recession and the post-recession recovery period, providing community gathering space, access to entertainment and educational resources, and information about job hunting, economizing, and other topics that are particularly relevant during this time.
Find the report as well as a Fast Facts highlighting key findings at http://www.lrs.org/recession.php
The Public Library Funding & Technology Access Survey has released state level data and you can find the Colorado report at: http://www.plinternetsurvey.org/?q=node/32&&id=CO&&u. In addition, there are state briefs on E-Government and Employment in public libraries.
Public Libraries & the Internet: http://www.plinternetsurvey.org/?q=Home-Page
It’s no secret that we like numbers here at LRS. Give us a rich data set and we will get lost in it for days. However, we also recognize the power of good stories to resonate with people on a deeper level than numbers often do. Take Olly Neal’s story, for example. In the late 1950s, Olly was a high school senior in Arkansas who liked to cut class and get in fights. One day, he was in the school library and noticed a book by African American author Frank Yerby. While it interested him, he was concerned that if anyone saw him checking it out, they would tell his friends he liked to read and then his reputation would be ruined. So, he hid the book under his jacket and walked out. After finishing the book, he returned to the library to sneak it back on the shelf, was pleasantly surprised to discover another Yerby title there, and snuck that one out as well. This process repeated itself several times over the course of the semester.
Thirteen years later, Olly ran into his school librarian while attending his high school reunion, and she told him she had spotted him when he “stole” his first Yerby book. Initially, she wondered why he was trying to smuggle the book out of the library when he could check it out for free. But soon she caught on to his motives, and decided to encourage his budding interest in reading any way she could. Unfortunately, the works of African American authors were not widely available during that time period, and neither the school library nor the other local libraries had additional Yerby titles. So, she drove to a library in Memphis to pick up another Yerby title for him to read. She repeated this process each time he took out a book. Olly credits his school librarian, and the extraordinary efforts she made on his behalf, with getting him interested in reading. This interest set him on a path that ultimately led to his acceptance to law school. Today, Olly is a judge for the 1st Judicial District in eastern Arkansas.
Listen to Olly tell this story here, courtesy of StoryCorps.
Do you have a story about how your library has impacted you or someone you know? Share it here.
Every year, LRS collects information from Colorado public libraries on challenges to their materials and services. Nearly 1 in 5 libraries reported a total of 48 challenges in 2009, the lowest number in a decade. For more details on the reasons for and results of those challenges, read our latest Fast Facts: Challenged Materials in Colorado Public Libraries, 2009.
~ Jamie H.
American Libraries will be publishing Jamie Helgren’s (DU-LRS Research Fellow) article on the Future of the Book in their January/February issue. See the article, “Booking to the Future” online now at: http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/features/11302010/booking-future.
This article is based on the LRS 60-Second Survey: The Future of the Book conducted earlier this year. Several LRS staff members contributed to the analysis of the data and you can see more about the survey results on the LRS blog and in two Fast Facts issues.
Jamie’s is the cover article for the Jan/Feb issue of American Libraries. Browse the issue and read the article at: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/e8e0bcae#/e8e0bcae/1
Colorado’s “star” libraries include:
Fleming Community Library
Denver Public Library
San Miguel Library District # 1/Telluride
Swink School/Public Library
La Veta Regional Library District
Douglas County Libraries
Ridgway Library District
Pitkin County Library
“The LJ Index of Public Library Service 2010, Library Journal’s national rating of public libraries, identifies 258 “star” libraries. Created by Ray Lyons and Keith Curry Lance, and based on 2008 data from the IMLS, it rates 7,407 public libraries. The top libraries in each group get five, four, or three stars. All included libraries, stars or not, can use their scores to learn from their peers, expand service to their communities, and advocate for support.” More at: http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/articlereview/886935-457/americas_star_libraries_2010_top-rated.html.csp
Each year, the American Library Association and the Center for Library & Information Innovation, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, surveys a national sample of public libraries regarding their Internet connectivity and computing access resources. The 2010-2011 Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study survey (PLFTAS) is now open and survey announcement postcards should be arriving at libraries this week.
The survey portal is www.plinternetsurvey.org – respondents can find FAQs and other support, and then head to “start survey.” That is also where you will find the 4 issue briefs (Broadband, Community Access, E-government, and Employment), as well as state summaries for Employment and E-government.
Why participate in this survey?
- At the national level, the data have been used by NTIA, the FCC, Congress, ALA, and B&MGF to help make the case that libraries are critical community anchor institutions that should be included in any broadband plan initiatives; help libraries secure BTOP funds; and work with policy makers to secure LSTA funds for libraries. The data is also being combined with a range of geocoded data so that policymakers can see how libraries make a difference in their communities through their public access technologies.
- At the state level, 72% of state librarians said they currently are using or are likely to use the data for state-level testimony and to develop messaging related to public library technology resources. The data is used to develop state-level issue briefs, data summaries (employment and e-government), and other tools to help state libraries advocate on behalf of their libraries.
- At the local level, survey administrators have worked with a number of libraries to get stories out about the importance of libraries in their communities. They have also been working with the National Association of Counties to take the message to local governing bodies and decision makers. You can see several media stories using PLFTAS data at: http://www.ala.org/ala/research/initiatives/plftas/2009_2010/media.cfm.
The survey closes November 5, 2010.
Last winter, LRS posted a 60-Second Survey on “The Future of the Book.” More than 1,300 people responded, with nearly 950 leaving additional comments about their thoughts on the topic. With all that information, we were able to write two Fast Facts providing analysis of both the results and the comments.
The comments proved to be one of the most interesting aspects of the survey, revealing passionate and philosophical thoughts on the future of paper and electronic books. Six common themes emerged as influences on future format choices: the existence of multiple formats, technological advantages, emotional/aesthetic appeal of paper books, content, cost, and change over time/generation. The first Fast Facts addresses results and comments related to cost and technological advantages of paper versus electronic formats, while the second report discusses the remaining comment categories and how they related to the type of library in which survey respondents worked and whether they owned an e-reader.
~ Jamie H.
Published earlier this year, The Dominican Study: Public Library Summer Reading Programs Close the Reading Gap showed that “Students who participated in the public library summer reading program scored higher on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year than those students who did not participate.” For more see…