Archive for the Public Category

Number of materials challenges in Colorado public libraries continues slow decline, falling by 3% since 2013

Challenges_FF_2014

As part of our yearly investigation into the materials that are challenged in public libraries in Colorado, our latest Fast Facts delves into detail concerning the format, audience, reason, and resolution of the materials challenges that were reported in the 2014 Public Library Annual Report. Information provided about these challenges help us to gauge the climate of intellectual freedom in Colorado public libraries over time.

So how did Colorado libraries fare in 2014? The total number of challenges over the years continues its overall downward trend. This trend has recently leveled out somewhat, however, since the number of challenges decreased by only 3% from 2013 to 2014. Several factors remained consistent from previous years, including the most common audience for challenged materials, adults, which represented the audience for three-quarters (76%) of challenges in 2014. There was also little change in the manner in which challenges were handled by the library; for the majority of challenges, no changes were made at all, meaning that the items were not reclassified, moved, or removed. While “sexually explicit” and “violence” remained two of the most cited reasons for the challenge, “other,” non-categorized reasons continue to rise.

An interesting shift taking place is the most common format of challenged materials. In 2014, videos eclipsed books as the most challenged format, at 36% of the total challenges. Book and computer challenges each represented another third (32%) of the challenges. Yet the percent of challenges to books has declined by more than a third (36%) since 2013. The cause of these changes is not clear, but could be related to an increased diversity in the kinds of formats offered by public libraries, and/or changes in how formats are perceived by individuals.

Take a look at all of the data and trends from 2014 in the full Colorado Public Libraries Challenges Fast Facts report.

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.

Research Institute for Public Libraries 2016

ripl2016

Are you…

… a public librarian, administrator, or other staff interested in getting started using data for savvy and strategic planning?

… looking for both inspiration and instruction in a hands-on, participatory environment?

… seeking to learn about outcomes and how to measure library impact?

… committed to leading your organization in making data-based decisions?

…eager to develop a peer network  to support your research and evaluation efforts?

Launched in 2015, the Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) brings together people from across the country (rural, suburban, and urban public libraries) for an intensive, participatory learning experience. Offered by the Colorado State Library and the Colorado Library Consortium, this year’s institute will take place September 30-October 3, 2016 in Denver, CO. Participants will learn about topics such as:

  • designing outcome-based evaluation of programs and services
  • assessing the needs of your community
  • techniques for tracking public library data and using these data for planning, management, and proving worth to your community
  • using data and stories to demonstrate library impact
  • aligning research efforts with national initiatives such as Edge Benchmarks, the Impact Survey, and Project Outcome

 Mark your calendar!

 Enrollment opens January 26, 2016 – and only 100 participants will take part in this immersive learning experience.

Find out more on the RIPL website.

If your organization would like to be a sponsor, please contact Elizabeth Kelsen Huber at the Colorado Library Consortium.

Here is what 2015 participants had to say about RIPL:

“This was one of the best training situations I’ve attended. It was laid out in a way that promoted optimal learning while still giving opportunities for networking & socializing. Great job!”

 “The curriculum & speakers were so well organized around the overall RIPL themes. It felt like a course in library data instead of individual conference sessions.”

 “…This was, by far, the best conference I’ve ever attended and I think part of that was the fact that it was so focused on one area – we had the time to delve into the various aspects of that, as well as get to know one another and work as a team. I look forward to applying what I learned within my organization.”

 “RIPL was an incredible experience. I learned so much and feel like I came back equipped with new knowledge and skills to implement some relevant data collection and evaluation practices at our library organization.”

 Questions about RIPL? Please contact us.

Want to connect with others who are interested in public library research and evaluation? Join PL-EVAL, a listserv where you can ask questions, share ideas, and learn from experiences across the field.

Pew survey finds that almost a third of Americans are in favor of fewer book shelves, though libraries themselves remain central to communities.

crossroads

Image credit: Pew Research

Pew Research Center’s new report on the state of America’s libraries declares that libraries are approaching a watershed moment of change. Pew based this conclusion off of two central questions from its survey of 2,004 Americans over the age of 16 – Firstly, what should happen to the books that traditionally populated libraries, and secondly, what should happen to the buildings themselves?

It appears that Americans are getting more comfortable with the idea of a library with fewer books. 30% of survey respondents say libraries should “definitely” move books to make way for more space and services, compared to 20% in 2012. A quarter (25%) said libraries should “definitely not” do this, and 40% were on the fence. However, it appears that Americans are nowhere near ready to forgo the library space as a whole. Nearly two-thirds (64%) thought libraries should definitely still have a physical location.

So what does this mean for the future of library books? Public libraries are likely to remain popular community centers and resources for job preparation, but books will also remain a central part of their M.O. Some print book collections may decline, but the formats offered by libraries continue to get increasingly diverse. The Pew survey also found that e-book lending is growing – though the number seems small, 6% of respondents have borrowed an e-book, and 38% are aware that they are offered.

Yet even with the growth in popularity of electronic resources (90% of public libraries now have e-lending programs!), the Pew survey respondents don’t indicate that Americans are ready to go full e-book. Almost half (46%) still aren’t aware of whether or not their library offers e-books. Even more concerning, respondents with the least education and household income reported higher than average declines in library use. This means that despite rapid growth in tech-based services and resources, it will be essential for libraries to continue their quest to close the gap in digital literacy and awareness.

Want to hear more about the state of public libraries? You can access the full Pew 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.

Join us at ARSL for “Data Visualization for the Rest of Us: A Beginner’s Guide”

arsl2015

Will you be at ARSL this week? If so, we hope you will join us for:

Data Visualization for the Rest of Us: A Beginner’s Guide

Thursday, October 1, 1:45-2:45 PM, Grampas

You don’t have to be a graphic designer to present your library statistics in a way that effectively communicates value. In this session, straight from the 2015 Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL), you will learn quick and easy tips for visually displaying statistics that will enable you to tell a powerful story about your library in your board reports, flyers, displays, and more.

Be a part of the #RIPLeffect: Come to our PLA preconference!

pla_precon

Image credit: Public Library Association

Did you miss out on the inaugural Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) this past summer? Well, now’s your chance to be a part of the #RIPLeffect. RIPL instructors will be offering a full day preconference at PLA 2016 in Denver: Think, Do, Show: Practical Techniques for Analyzing, Using, and Visualizing Data to Improve Practice and Demonstrate Impact. This preconference will take place on Tuesday, April 5, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM. The curriculum is straight from RIPL 2015, refined and improved based on participant feedback!

Here is the program description:

Libraries collect a lot of data: circulation, program attendance, user satisfaction, etc. In this preconference, you will learn how to go beyond simply collecting and reporting on these numbers. Through a series of interactive exercises, you will discover how to analyze your data, use your results to inform your strategic planning, management, and communication with stakeholders, and visually present your statistics in infographics and other formats to demonstrate your library’s impact.

Takeaways:

  1. Be able to conduct standard types of public library data analysis
  2. Have increased skills and confidence in using data for strategic planning, management, and communication with stakeholders
  3. Be able to visually present data so that it tells a powerful story about your library

To participate fully in the preconference, you will want to bring a laptop with Excel.

Instructors:

Denise Davis, Deputy Director, Sacramento Public Library
Linda Hofschire, Research Analyst, Library Research Service, Colorado State Library
Jamie LaRue, Consultant, LaRue and Associates Consulting
Zeth Lietzau, Director, Collections, Technology, & Strategy, Denver Public Library
Rochelle Logan, Consultant, Rochelle Logan Consulting
Jon Solomon, Assistant Director, Englewood Public Library
Nicolle Steffen, Director, Library Research Service, Colorado State Library
Meghan Wanucha, Research Assistant, Library Research Service, Colorado State Library
Sara Wright, Director, Berthoud Public Library

Want to sign up? PLA 2016 registration opens today (September 15, 2015) at 12:00 PM CDT. Simply select this preconference as part of the registration process. Hurry! Space is limited.

Interested in getting updates about future RIPL events – including a second RIPL that will be offered in 2016, as well as RIPL curriculum offerings at conferences, webinars, etc.? Go to the RIPL website and sign up for email updates in the “Overview” section.

 

Colorado ranked 22nd in 0-18 children’s well-being

zerotothree

Image credit: ZERO TO THREE

The nonprofit early development organization ZERO TO THREE recently released updated State Baby Facts factsheets about the status of infants, toddlers, and families across the country. Early literacy is just one piece of the early childhood education and development picture, so these factsheets are useful tools to help libraries and other early literacy organizations to understand current poverty, health, and early learning data and how their states compare nationally.

Here are some highlights from Colorado’s factsheet:

  • More than 1 in 4 (21%) Colorado infants and toddlers live at less than 100% of the federal poverty level.
  • One in 10 babies is born preterm, and 9% of babies have low birth weight in Colorado.
  • More than a quarter (27%) of Colorado children younger than 3 experience residential mobility (e.g., multiple moves).
  • Coloradans are doing better than the national averages for several early learning activities (perhaps libraries have a role to play in that?):
    • Well over half (57%) of parents or family members read to their 0-5-year-old each day.
    • More than 3 in 5 (63%) parents or family members tell stories and sing to their 0-5-year-old each day.
  • At the same time, the cost of infant childcare for Colorado single mothers is nearly half (48%) of their income.

Looking for practical tips to make your library more supportive of families with young children? Check out the research-tested SPELL Blueprint model which outlines activities and recommendations from the Supporting Parents in Early Literacy Through Libraries (SPELL) project.

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.

2013 Public Libraries Survey data now available

Image credit: Public Libraries Survey, IMLS

Image credit: Public Libraries Survey, IMLS

Brand-new national public library data is now available from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Fiscal year 2013 data from the annual Public Libraries Survey has just been added to the IMLS Compare Public Libraries and Search for Public Libraries tools. Try out the compare tool to see how your library stacks up to similar libraries across the country based on characteristics you choose. And the search tool is an easy way to pull together staff, budget, services, and collection information for any public library in the U.S.

Data files for FY2013 should be available soon!

52% of U.S. public libraries have at least one librarian on staff with an ALA-MLS degree

PLS FY2012_print release

Image credit: IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently sent print copies of its Public Libraries in the United States Report for Fiscal Year 2012 to all state libraries. This is the final result of the statistics and data gathered by state libraries into the Public Libraries Survey (PLS), and here in Colorado through the Public Library Annual Report (PLAR) which wrapped up data collection for 2014 earlier this spring.

We’ve shared some highlights with you earlier this year, but these data are too rich not to share more! Here are a few more stats that help show some interesting relationships between library services:

  • Having e-books in the library collection resulted in an average increase of 1.5 visits per capita (and libraries with e-books had significantly higher rates of circulation per capita than those without)
  • For each $1 spent on electronic materials per capita, 1 more item circulated for every 2 people in the library’s legal service area
  • The number of public access Internet computers has gone up 76% in the past 10 years
  • Funding from local governments has gone up by 7% in the past 10 years
  • Suburban (7.1) and rural (6.7) libraries had higher visit rates per capita than libraries in cities (5.6) or towns (6.1)
  • Circulation per capita was significantly higher (9.3) in libraries serving fewer than 2,500 people than in larger libraries

You can check out the Public Libraries in the United States Report for Fiscal Year 12 in full here. And, preliminary data for Colorado’s 2014 PLAR is available now in our interactive tool.

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.

Low-income households with children are 4X more likely to lack broadband in the home than their higher income counterparts

pew_HW_gap

Image credit: Pew Research

Discussions about the digital divide often focus on technology training for adults and career readiness, but as education shifts its focus towards online resources and learning environments, a major concern is the “homework gap” experienced by many school-age children. The “homework gap” refers to the disadvantages faced by children in households that lack access to broadband services.

An analysis of this broadband “homework gap” by Pew Research Center reveals that approximately 5 million American households with children do not have broadband access. Even more revealing is the fact that households without broadband are predominately black, Hispanic, and low income. Households with children that have an income below $50,000 are 4 times more likely to lack a high-speed internet connection than those above that income marker, and among low-income households with children, blacks and Hispanics are 10 percentage points less likely to have broadband access at home than their white counterparts.

While the FCC’s Lifeline Program is working to revamp their telephone subscription subsidy program so that it would include broadband services, it’s not yet clear how much this would hike up costs and how many of those 5 million households would receive assistance. For the foreseeable future, public libraries are extremely important in helping children and families to close that gap by providing them with access to online educational resources. Providing internet access for school-age children not only affects their ability to get homework done today, but also has bearing on the education and job opportunities available to them in the future.

Read the Pew Research Center’s full analysis of the broadband “homework gap” 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.

Half of public library respondents report internet connectivity speeds of more than 10 Mbps

Digital Inclusion_speed

Image credit: Digital Inclusion Survey

We’ve shared the Digital Inclusion Survey with you before, and now new research results dive into data specifically about broadband speeds in public libraries. More than 2,200 public libraries from 49 states reported upload and download speeds at their libraries for wired and Wi-Fi connections. City libraries reported median download speeds of 30 Mbps (wired) and 13 Mbps (Wi-Fi), while rural libraries reported medians of 9 Mbps (wired) and 6 Mbps (Wi-Fi).

According to the most recent data, about half (49.8%) of all libraries reported download speeds of more than 10 Mbps, up from just 18% that had achieved those speeds in 2009. The percentage of libraries with the slowest public Internet speeds of 1.5 Mbps or less dropped to 1 in 10 in 2013 from 42.2% in 2009. While the strides being made are exciting, the reality is that just 2% of public libraries meet national benchmarks set by the Federal Communications Commission for minimum speeds serving smaller communities (100 Mbps) and more than 50,000 people (1 Gbps).

Technical issues also abound, as might be expected when it comes to Internet connectivity speeds. Captured speeds—both at individual user’s devices and for uploads—lag behind subscribed network speeds. Peak use times meant reduced speeds, particularly for city libraries which saw direct download speeds drop 69% during heavy usage when compared to light usage periods.

Read the full report, including additional breakdowns by locale and connection type, here. This broadband discussion is even more timely considering Pew’s recent analysis of Census data about broadband access among households with children and the “homework gap” and what this information might mean for libraries. We’ll bring you more on that research soon.

 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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