Archive for the Technology Category

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


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.

Digital divide between Latinos and whites at lowest point in 6 years, according to Pew

Latino digital divide

Image credit: Pew Internet

Pew Research recently published the results of a survey examining internet use of Latinos and Spanish-dominant Latinos in the United States. Overall, they found that the digital divide that between Latinos and whites is at its narrowest point since 2009, declining from 16% to 5% in 2015.

The share of Latino adults who report using the internet increased by 20% in the past six years, with more than 4 in 5 (84%) Latinos reporting regularly using the internet. However, less than half (46%) of Latinos who access the internet do so through a home broadband connection, a number that has only increased by 1% since 2010. This is where internet use practices of Latinos begin to diverge with those of whites, since almost three-quarters (73%) of white internet users have broadband access at home.

Latino internet users are also among the most likely to use a mobile device to access the internet. Nearly all (94%) of Latino users report using mobile internet devices, a share higher than white internet users (85%). Mobile devices are especially common among younger Latinos, but nearly 3 in 5 (58%) Latinos aged 50-64 and about a third (35%) aged 65 and older report accessing the internet this way. Latino internet users are also twice as likely (23%) as whites (10%) to be “smartphone dependent,” meaning that they do not have home internet access but do use a mobile device to access the internet.

Understanding internet use across different demographics can help libraries provide internet access to every member of their community. For example, knowing that many Latino and Spanish-speaking community members do not have home broadband indicates that they may be dependent on public computers or wireless internet sources, especially older Latinos who do not tend to use smartphones. Creating computer literacy programs that can accommodate Spanish-speakers could help welcome this group to the library and provide a reliable internet source.

For more information about internet use among Latinos, check out the full report here.

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


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.

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.


More than two-thirds of Americans are wielding smartphones today, Pew finds


After taking a look around you, it will likely come as no surprise that smartphone ownership has been skyrocketing in recent years. Pew Research conducted a technology device ownership survey this year, and found that more than two-thirds (68%) of Americans now own smartphones, a 35% increase since 2011. Tablets are the only other device that saw a strong increase in ownership – almost half (45%) of U.S. adults own a tablet computer today, compared to just 3% in 2010.

What’s more, of the 1,907 U.S. adults that were surveyed, it was found that this sharp increase in smartphone and tablet ownership was accompanied by steady or even declining ownership in many other digital devices. For example, after years of steadily increasing ownership, e-book devices have begun to decline in popularity, with only one-fifth (19%) of U.S. adults owning one in 2015. Meanwhile, the ownership of MP3 players, game consoles, and desktops and laptops have stagnated in recent years. Among U.S. adults under 30, though, the ownership of a desktop or laptop has declined by 11% since 2010.

What does this information mean for libraries and library services? Pew suggests in its report that the boom of smartphone ownership may correspond to a decline or stagnation in other device ownership as more people use smartphones and tablets as a primary source for a variety of their information needs. These trends mean that it will likely be very important for libraries to continue improving their mobile websites and services so that patrons can easily access resources and information about services from the devices they are most likely to use to stay connected.

Check out all of the device ownership trends from Pew 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.

The Digital Inclusion Survey finds that 9 out of 10 public libraries offer general Internet usage training


Image credit: Digital Inclusion Survey

The Digital Inclusion Survey recently released new data and issue briefs that deal with a wide range of technology based services in public libraries, from access to e-government. The survey tracks trends and advances in the “access, adoption, and application” of digital resources in their effort to promote the importance of equitable technology access to the future of communities.

Their issue brief on digital literacy reports that 9 out of 10 public libraries in the U.S. (90%) at least offer training in general Internet usage. In fact, there is little gap in the number of libraries that provide basic technology services in suburban areas (93%) and those that do so in rural areas (87%).

Public libraries today have an average of 19 public access computers (including laptops), and many trainings now include workforce development and mobile technologies. Overwhelmingly though, libraries favor informal point-of-use interactions – four-fifths (79%) of libraries indicate they use this method, compared to the 39% that offer formal trainings.

Yet public libraries are not without challenges in providing digital literacy service to their communities. A lack of infrastructure, funding, and staff expertise can all be major hurdles. For example, the Digital Inclusion Survey found a direct association between libraries that had undergone major renovations in the past year (21% of public libraries) and their ability to provide technology training. Attention to the space of the library itself, it seems, may be an indicator of the energy and assets put into emerging digital services.

You can access all of the Digital Inclusion Survey’s 2015 issue briefs 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.


New Pew study finds that 57% of today’s teens have made a new friend online


If the younger generation is any indication of how people will live, work, and interact in the future, today’s teens are media omnivores who will set new standards for social communication. In a new study from the Pew Research Center that takes a look at how friendships are formed and maintained in the digital age, it was found that teens are more likely to text message with friends everyday (55%) than interact with them in person every day (25%). The results, obtained from a national survey and in-person focus groups of 13 to 17 year olds, also found that other popular communication methods include talking on the phone, instant messaging, social media, video chat, video games, and messaging apps.

Teens are also not only keeping in touch with established friends online, but are also making new friends. More than half (57%) of teens have made at least one new friend online. However, it is also likely that these friendships will remain exclusively online. The most popular forums for teens to meet and socialize online are social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as playing networked video games. Girls are more likely to meet friends through social networks than boys (78% vs. 52% of boys), and boys are much more likely to meet through online video games (57% vs. 13% of girls).

Despite parental concerns, teens are meeting up in online environments more and more. Of all of the top places where teens get together with close friends, online environments are now the third most common (with 55% of teens saying they spend time with friends regularly online). It is still unclear whether these online interactions have an overall positive or negative impact. More than four-fifths (83%) of teens say that social media helps them to feel more connected to friends’ lives, but some teens do experience negative consequences such as pressure to make themselves look better, having friends that start drama online, and others posting exclusionary or negative comments.

If libraries are to remain vibrant places for teens to gather and interact in the future, they will need to consider ways in which they can harness the fluid and quickly changing social dynamics of this demographic.

You can access the full report on “Teens, Technology & Friendships” 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.

In new SLJ survey, nearly two-thirds of school librarians see themselves as tech leaders in their school


Image credit: School Library Journal

School Library Journal’s 2015 Technology survey of 1,259 school librarians provides insight into the positive and negative effects that technology is having on school libraries. On the positive side, the survey suggests that school librarians are more enthusiastic than ever about incorporating tech as a component of teaching and learning. Makerspaces, 3-D printers, and coding skills were cited as the most coveted tech resources. In fact, more than a third (38%) of respondents reported having maker activities and technology already, while another 13% said they would be adding these features in the next year. School librarians are also quite confident in their own advocacy of technology, with nearly two-thirds (64%) expressing that they see themselves as tech leaders in their schools.

School librarians’ use of applications for instruction and social media for providing information and resources has continued to increase. Application use has increased from 57% in 2013 to 71% in 2015, and the use of social media for information sharing shot up from 59% in 2013 to 76% in 2015.

Yet despite this rapidly growing interest and demand for technology many school libraries are seeing budgets fall short of their need. In particular, the amount of bandwidth is becoming a concern. While nearly all (97%) of the schools surveyed have Wi-Fi, the speed of connection is comparable to many private homes. Only 63% of school librarians surveyed deemed their bandwidth access adequate, compared to 82% in 2013. In addition, the funding to improve these services is often stagnant at best.

It is almost certain that the supply of digital information will continue to skyrocket along with the demand to complement these resources with technology-based instruction. School librarians and those who partner with them will need to combine advocacy efforts with creative solutions for how to stretch funds to accommodate the need for more tech-based learning.

Read the full SLJ report on technology in school libraries 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.

84% of Americans are using the internet today according to Pew survey


Image credit: Pew Research Center

As part of its in-depth examination of the role that the internet and technology plays in the lives of Americans, Pew Research Center has released the results of a long-term study of Americans’ access to the internet from 2000 to 2015. The study is based on 97 surveys distributed nationwide throughout the past 15 years.

In 2000, just over half (52%) of American adults were Internet users, while as of 2015 more than four-fifths (84%) of Americans are using the internet. The surveys found that the biggest contributors to internet usage are age, education, household income, race, and the kind of community one lives in. Of these four factors, age and education play the biggest role in determining whether an individual gets online. While nearly all (96%) young adults today use the internet, the number of adults 65 years old and older who do just crept over 50% in 2012. However, older adults are now adopting the internet at a faster rate now than their younger counterparts. Similarly, while an overwhelming majority of adults with a college degree or higher are internet users (95%), that number drops down to just two-thirds (66%) of those who have not completed a high school degree.

Still, it’s clear that the internet has permeated the lives of Americans over a relatively short period of time, reaching full saturation for young adults that are highly educated and live in high-income households. In fact, the internet has become such an integral part of everyday life for most Americans that an 84% usage rate may seem surprisingly low for some. In order to ensure that this number doesn’t plateau, it’s necessary to continue working towards equal resources and access for all Americans.

Read the full results of Pew’s 15-year study on internet access 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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More than 1 in 3 students in an academic library survey believe e-books make research easier


With the popularity of e-books in public libraries surging, many academic libraries are still tentatively acquiring e-book collections while debating how they might add to or detract from student research methods. Julie Gilbert and Barbara Fister of Gustavus Adolphus College have published an article in College & Research Libraries that tackles this very question though a survey of 417 students. The aim of their study is to investigate the potential impact of e-books on students reading habits through their current e-book use and their perception of how e-books might alter their reading behaviors in the future.

Even though close to half (42%) of students surveyed already have either e-reader devices or e-reading software on their mobile device or computer, the most prominent use for e-readers was for fiction (84%) and recreational reading rather than research (20%). Perhaps not surprisingly, more than half (56%) of the most frequent visitors to the library said they would be likely to use e-books provided by the library, compared to only a third of those who seldom or never visit the library. This, along with the finding that students who already have e-readers are more likely to use the library for non-research purposes, even for print materials, suggests that those most open to e-books are already the most eager readers.

The survey respondents appeared to be split on their feelings about the ease of e-books. A little more than a third (38%) said e-books would make research easier, almost a third (32%) said e-books would make research more difficult, and nearly the same amount (30%) were unsure. The most cited benefit of e-books was their portability and ease of use, and those who preferred print often did so because it was familiar, as well as easier to flip back and forth between several print books while researching. Preference of e-books was also highly variable depending on the survey respondents’ major. Natural Sciences and Business students were much more likely than those in the Arts and Humanities to embrace research in electronic format.

So, it seems that e-books are gaining ground as a viable format for research to some, but they are still primarily seen as most useful for recreational reading or part of an increasingly diverse mixture of research methods.

You can peruse the full article, available via Open Access by College and Research Libraries, 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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