Our new Fast Facts discusses recent trends in public school librarian staffing and student enrollment. Based on an analysis of National Center for Education Statistics data, public school librarian staffing numbers remained relatively stable from 2004-05 (the first year this data was reported) to 2007-08. However, these positions nationwide declined by 8 percent from 2007-08 to 2010-11, while the total number of students increased by 2 percent. In Colorado, this gap was more pronounced: school librarian positions fell by 9 percent during this time period, while the total number of students rose by 5 percent.
Forbes.com recently posted an article on “The Best And Worst Master’s Degrees For Jobs,” and a Master’s in Library and Information Science was ranked the No. 1 worst degree. These rankings were based on mid-career median pay and estimated rate of growth of careers in 35 popular degrees. The results of our 60-second poll “The Value of an MLIS to You,” however, show a different picture of the degree’s worth, one beyond monetary potential. Those who completed the survey were certainly concerned about the job market and salaries, but our respondents also left lengthy comments about the intrinsic rewards of the profession, and 79% agreed that the degree was worth the time and money invested.
Read the full report with analysis of the comments here, or see the highlights in our Fast Facts report.
Edited to add: ALA President Maureen Sullivan has a nice response to the Forbes article in the Washington Post.
Are you interested in finding events related to research and statistics at ALA Annual? Here are some of the sessions that are on our radar:
Friday, June 22:
1:30 pm-3:00 pm ARL Library Assessment Forum
Saturday, June 23:
10:30 am-12:00 pm Write For It! Jump Start Your Research Agenda and Join the Conversation (ALCTS)
1:30 pm-2:00 pm National Statistics for Local Advocacy? You Betcha! (COLA, ORS)
Sunday, June 24:
10:30 am-12:00 pm The Rise of E-Reading (OITP)
10:30 am-12:00 pm PLAmetrics User Group and Demonstration (PLA)
10:30 am-12:00 pm Research on Library Use and Users (LRRT)
1:00 pm-2:30 pm Fun with Numbers: Opportunities and Challenges in Collecting Library Use Data (ALA)
1:30 pm-3:30 pm 18th Annual Reference Research Forum (RUSA)
1:30 pm-3:30 pm Let the Data Talk: Communicating Assessment Results to Stakeholders (LLAMA)
Monday, June 25
10:30 am-12:00 pm Seeing is Believing: Understanding Data Visualization for Library Research (ORS)
1:30 pm-3:30 pm Riding the Publishing Rollercoaster: Practical Strategies from Research to Writing (ACRL)
To see a complete listing of sessions related to research, go to the scheduler and narrow by the subject “Research and Statistics.”
LRS recently completed an evaluation of the statewide 24/7 virtual reference service AskColorado, as well as its academic queue AskAcademic. Between April and October 2011, nearly 1,300 users completed customer exit surveys. The results indicate that users are pleased with these services and are likely to be repeat users. Four out of five users (80%) rated AskColorado librarians as “very helpful” or “helpful,” and six out of seven users (85%) said that they would be “very likely” or “likely” to use the service again. Satisfaction was even higher among AskAcademic users. Nearly 9 in 10 AskAcademic survey respondents (89%) indicated that the librarians who assisted them were either very helpful or helpful , and most (94%) said that they were “very likely” or “likely” to utilize the service again. Compared with previous AskColorado evaluations, in 2011 the service received its highest ratings yet on these measures.
See the Fast Facts and Closer Look report for more details.
In Fall 2011, we conducted a study of the statewide courier system to determine the quantity and type of materials that libraries were sending via the courier system, and then to estimate, based on these numbers, the system’s cost effectiveness versus using a commercial service. Our results showed that the courier system continues to provide substantial cost savings to participating libraries. Colorado libraries send an estimated 5.9 million items annually via the courier system. Compared with the costs of using a commercial shipping service (USPS, UPS, or FedEx), they save up to an estimated $7.1 million per year by using the courier.
Find out more in the Fast Facts report.
In fall 2011, LRS analyzed school library staffing data and Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) reading scores over time. The findings indicated that Colorado schools that either maintained or gained an endorsed librarian between 2005 and 2011 tended to have more students scoring advanced in reading in 2011 and fewer students scoring unsatisfactory, compared with schools that either lost their librarians or never had one. In 2011, schools with at least one FTE endorsed librarian averaged significantly higher advanced CSAP reading scores and significantly lower unsatisfactory scores than schools with less than one FTE endorsed librarian. These findings remained significant when controlling for poverty.
These findings and more are discussed in our newest Closer Look Report, “Change in School Librarian Staffing Linked with Change in CSAP Reading Performance, 2005 to 2011.”
The deadline for completing the 2011-12 Colorado School Library Survey has been extended to November 30, 2011. Participation by all public school libraries is vital! If you have not yet responded to the survey, it can be accessed at http://www.lrs.org/slsurvey.
We have made substantial revisions to the survey based on respondents’ comments to better reflect the current state of school libraries, and we look forward to getting the input of all Colorado public school librarians! The data gathered in the annual school library survey provides library professionals with important information for planning, evaluating, and budgeting. For questions regarding the survey, or to obtain your username and password, feel free to call Library Research Service at 303-866-6900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get your information.
Everyone’s heard of thinking outside the box, right? You know-the ability to break out of unconventional thinking and apply innovative ideas to problem solving. Well, now we invite you to explore ways of thinking outside the survey and using innovative methods to learn about the people who use your library.
Please join us at CALCON11 for:
Beyond the Survey: Innovative Techniques for Learning About Your Patrons
Friday, October 14, 2011, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM, Snowberry
We’ll present 10 creative-and often fun-ways to engage your patrons, staff, and community and get the information you need. Bring your ideas, questions, and enthusiasm. We’d like to share our ideas and hear yours.
It’s time to think outside the survey!
~Linda, Lisa, & Nicolle
Letters have been sent to public school libraries throughout the state announcing the opening of the 2011-12 Colorado School Library Survey. It can be accessed at http://www.lrs.org/slsurvey. We have made substantial revisions to the survey based on respondents’ comments to better reflect the current state of school libraries, and we look forward to getting the input of all Colorado public school librarians! The data gathered in the annual school library survey provides library professionals with important information for planning, evaluating, and budgeting. Login information is included in the letter, but if you haven’t received your letter and would like to get started, feel free to call LRS at 303-866-6900 or email email@example.com to get your information.
In response to some questions we’ve received about our School Library Journal article and our future plans for school library research:
The results reported in this article represent the first part of a larger study we are conducting to look at the relationship between school librarian staffing and achievement scores. Our next step is to do a more in-depth analysis of Colorado schools, where we have access to staffing and achievement test data at the building level (the data used for our SLJ article were at the state level). Look for a report of the results in the coming months. We encourage others to pursue this type of research in their state/region.