Archive for the Technology Category

ALA report finds that the number of rural public libraries offering internet services increases to 85%

The American Libraries Association (ALA) recently published a report exploring the ways that rural public libraries meet the needs of their communities, especially by providing digital literacy training and free access to the internet. This report used data collected by the Public Libraries Survey and the Digital Inclusion Survey.

Rural libraries tend to fall into a role of internet provider for rural communities since affordable, high-capacity home broadband internet can be difficult to obtain outside of more populous areas. More than 4 in 5 (85%) rural libraries surveyed reported subscribing to internet download speeds of at least 1.5 Megabits per second (Mbps), increased from more than half (57%) that reported the same in 2010.  The median connection speed across rural libraries is 10 Mbps, which is slow by today’s standards – the Federal Communications Commission recommends connection speeds of 100 Mbps for all libraries serving 50,000 people or less.

Rural libraries have kept pace with their urban and suburban counterparts in helping their patrons breach the digital divide. Nearly all libraries surveyed offer public WiFi to their patrons, allowing for use of personal devices while in the library. More than 4 in 5 (84%) rural libraries offer basic computer training, which is the same rate as urban/suburban libraries (87%).  Libraries across the board also offer training in basic office productivity software, like Microsoft Office, at a similar rate (81% for rural libraries, and 84% for all libraries). A larger gap emerged when librarians were asked about specialized training for social media tools and new technologies, which are more frequently offered at urban and suburban libraries.

For more information about the role that rural libraries play in their communities, the full report can be found 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.

Freedman Consulting study finds strong bipartisan support for net neutrality rules

Image credit: Freedman Center

A recent study conducted by Freedman Consulting found that Americans across the political spectrum support net neutrality. The study also found a bipartisan belief that access to the internet is essential and that the government should play a role in expanding internet access.

About three-quarters (77%) of the survey respondents indicated that they believe the Federal Communication Commission’s existing Open Internet rules should be kept in place. Unlike many political issues, this issue received support from all major political parties – three-quarters of both Republicans (73%) and Independents (76%), and 4 in 5 Democrats (80%) noted their support for net neutrality rules.

An underlying reason for this broad support of net neutrality rules is likely because of the understanding that internet access has become necessary for both economic success and free expression. When given the statement, “internet access is essential and everyone needs it in the 21st century economy,” three-quarters (75%) of the survey respondents agreed. The study also found that more than 4 in 5 (83%) respondents viewed internet access as on-par with other essential infrastructure, like roads and bridges, and more than two-thirds (70%) agree  that the government should provide funding to help rural and low-income Americans access the internet.

While net neutrality can seem like an issue best left to legislators and tech giants, libraries have a lot to lose if ISPs no longer have to abide by net neutrality regulations. On a practical level, libraries will likely have to choose between paying more for usable internet access or trying to function using cheaper, slower connection speeds. From an ethical standpoint, libraries are encouraged to advocate for intellectual freedom, which is a right that would be undermined if internet access is blocked or throttled. However, this report suggests that library patrons support regulations that will allow libraries to continue providing access to information.

For information about how Americans view net neutrality, the full report can be found 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.

Pew survey finds that the number of seniors who own smartphones has doubled since 2013

The Pew Research Center recently published the results of a survey studying technology use among adults ages 65 and older in the United States. They found that while technology adoption is slower among senior citizens, the rate of technology use among seniors is growing.

The percentage of seniors using technology has increased dramatically in the past few years. Two-thirds (67%) of the seniors that were surveyed use the internet, and half (51%) report that they can access broadband internet in their homes. About 2 in 5 (42%) seniors reported that they own smartphones, up from about 1 in 5 (18%) just four years ago in 2013. The number of seniors that own tablets has also doubled since 2013, up to about one-third (32%). Social media use among seniors has increased as well, with about a third (34%) of seniors reporting that they use social networking sites, up from about a quarter (27%) in 2013.

Despite these gains, technology adoption among seniors remains lower than among those ages 18 to 64. This may be due to a lack of confidence when it comes to using new technologies – only about a quarter (26%) of those ages 65 and older report feeling confident when using smartphones, computers, or other electronic devices, while roughly a third (34%) describe themselves as having little to no confidence with these devices. Senior citizens are also more likely to need help setting up new devices or need someone to show them how to use it, with about three-quarters (73%) of seniors reporting that they often need assistance.

This report reveals that there is clearly still a need for the technology assistance and classes that many libraries already offer to seniors, and perhaps even more of an opportunity for librarians to step in and help seniors become digitally connected. For more information about demographics and attitudes towards technology use by seniors, the full report can be found 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.

SLJ Technology Survey finds that technology spending has increased by 75% in schools

The School Library Journal recently published the results of their 2017 Technology Survey and found that school librarians are experiencing increased spending on digital tools for their libraries, allowing school librarians to become technology leaders within their school districts.

The survey found that the average amount spent on technology per school has increased by 75% in the past two years, from an average of $3,633 during the 2014/2015 school year to $6,257 in 2016/2017. School librarians are primarily responsible for tech usage in the library itself, but about half (45%) of the school librarians responding to the survey noted that they also collaborate with teachers to present tech-integrated lessons. More than a quarter (27%) of respondents have created even deeper partnerships with teachers to co-teach technology-rich lessons. Four in ten (41%) school librarians reported leading professional development activities using technologies in the library.

Survey respondents felt that their colleagues were supportive of librarians taking a leadership role in purchasing and implementing technology in their school. They reported that the majority of administrators (60%), teachers (68%), and students (70%) view school librarians as technology leaders. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents noted that they also feel supported by their school or district’s technology coordinator.  About a third (32%) of survey respondents said that being knowledgeable about the technology used in their schools provided them with added job security.

For more information about how school librarians are incorporating technology into their libraries, you can find 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.

Pew finds that only 1 in 5 Americans feel the effects of “information overload”

Image credit: Pew Research

Image credit: Pew Research

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that the majority of American adults do not feel overwhelmed by information, contradicting a long-held anxiety about the consequences of “information overload.”

Over three-quarters (77%) of respondents like having so much information easily available to them, compared to the 1 in 5 (20%) who feel overwhelmed by information (down from 27% who reported feeling overwhelmed in 2006). Two-thirds (67%) of respondents were happy about having more information at their disposal, saying that it helps to simplify their lives.

In general, respondents that were considered to be “gadget rich” (having a combination of broadband home internet, a smartphone, and a tablet computer to access information) were less overwhelmed by the amount of information present. More than 4 in 5 (84%) “gadget-rich” respondents like having so much information available, while only just over half of “gadget-poor” respondents said the same. “Gadget-poor” respondents were also more likely to say that the amount of information available makes their lives more complex, that they have difficulty finding the information they need, and are not confident using the internet as an informational tool.

There is no sign that the flow of information will slow down anytime soon. Librarians have an opportunity to help their patrons feel comfortable interacting with information, using information tools, and identifying false information online. As the survey results indicate, providing patrons with access to more information gadgets can be helpful for those who may not be able to afford them, as can teaching information literacy classes to increase their patrons’ ability to find the information they need.

The full report can be found 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.

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

audiobooks_2016

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

LifelongLearning_libraries

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

webtech2014

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

pew_smartphone

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.

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