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Library Journal and SirsiDynix find that 2 in 5 public libraries offer a mobile device app to their patrons

App design for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina

Library Journal, in collaboration with SirsiDynix, recently conducted a survey of 618 public libraries to gather information about mobile device trends in libraries. Their report reveals the increasing use of mobile-friendly websites and apps in public libraries.

Out of the libraries that responded to the survey, about 2 in 5 (37%) currently offer a mobile app to their patrons and nearly three-quarters (72%) have a website that is optimized for use on mobile devices. Libraries serving more than 500,000 patrons were more likely to respond that they have an app, resulting in about 7 in 10 (69%) larger libraries compared to a little less than a quarter (22%) of smaller libraries. Mobile optimization of the library website is more consistent across library sizes; 2 in 3 (65%) smaller libraries described their website as mobile-friendly and about three-quarters (74%-77%) of larger libraries said the same.

Library apps serve varying purposes for each library, but nearly all (97%) of the responding libraries reported that their library provides mobile access to the library’s catalog. Catalog access is by far the most common app functionality, followed by a library event calendar (68%), ebook and audiobook checkout (60%), and mobile library card/digital barcode (60%). Respondents also clarified the functionalities that they want their apps to offer, including fine payment (69%), library event calendars (62%), and remote sign-up for events or library cards (51%).

Libraries reported that about 1 in 10 (12%) library users have actually downloaded the library’s app to their smartphone or tablet. About 2 in 5 (38%) acknowledged that their app appeals to certain patrons, including young adults, students, and “everyone but seniors.” These audiences could influence how libraries market their apps. Most respondents said that their apps were advertised via the library website (64%) and on social media (30%). Less off-line marketing took place, but some respondents advertised the app using posters (19%), newsletters (12%), and bookmarks (6%).

For more survey results, 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.

OCLC report shows changes in US voter perception of libraries over the last ten years

Image credit: OCLC

OCLC recently published From Awareness to Funding: Voter Perceptions and Support of Public Libraries in 2018, an update to a 2008 report. The report highlights key findings from their national study of U.S. voters about their perceptions of libraries. Two areas showed noteworthy change over the past ten years: the use of libraries as a community space and commitment to library funding.

Many public libraries have been working on transforming into community hubs over the past few years, and the voters surveyed by OCLC seem to have noticed. More than 2 in 5 (44%) voters said that they value the library as a gathering place, and nearly a third (30%) view the library as a community hub. A little over 2 in 5 (43%) respondents in 2018 say that the library “offers activities and entertainment you can’t find anywhere else in the community,” compared about a third (34%) who said the same in 2008. Just under half (48%) now view this as an important role for the library, while about 2 in 5 (38%) did in 2008.

Although a majority (55%) of the voters surveyed view the public library as an essential local institution, this opinion does not always translate to a willingness to vote for library funding. Only about a quarter (27%) of voters answered that they would “definitely” vote in favor of measures to support the public library, with a further third (31%) who said that they would “probably” vote in favor. While the two categories still make up a majority of voters (58%), the percentage has dropped from the three-quarters (73%) of voters in 2008 who said that they would “probably” or “definitely” vote in favor of library support measures. The gap between support for libraries and support for library funding may indicate a lack of understanding among voters about how libraries are funded in their communities.

The full report and an infographic providing a snapshot of the report’s findings can be found here. OCLC will also host a webinar discussing their findings on April 17.

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.

School Library Journal examines national, state, and local factors contributing to the loss in school librarian jobs

Image credit: School Library Journal

School Library Journal recently published the School Librarian State of the Union. This national overview of the profession takes a look at the data gathered about school librarianship. One of the articles, “A Perfect Storm Impacts School Librarianship Numbers,” uses this data to reflect on the national, state, and local factors that together contribute to the dropping number of school librarians.

Nationwide, the school librarian profession has lost about 1 in 5 (19%) full-time positions since 2000, translating to about 10,000 jobs. One explanation for this loss could be a trend of not replacing school librarians when they retire, and many school librarians are retiring – more than 3 in 5 (63%) librarians in 2016 were 54 years old or older. Another national trend is taking place in LIS programs. Over the past five years, the number of school library certification programs has dropped by about a third (32%).

On a state level, spending on U.S. schools has risen slightly for the second year in a row but has not matched the increasing student population and the rising costs of providing educational services. Between 2010-2015, the average per pupil spending in public schools rose by 7.5% while school librarian positions were cut by 17%. School librarian positions are often vulnerable to being cut because less than half of states (22) have legislative regulations requiring schools to employ a school librarian.

Locally, there is a lack of knowledge among school administrators about the impact of school library programs and certified librarians on student success. Only 1 in 10 (10%) principals report receiving formal training related to school librarians, and they said that most of their knowledge came from face-to-face interactions with school librarians.

The entire School Librarian State of the Union 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.

“Lost Einsteins” can be alleviated by childhood exposure to invention and inventors, particularly inventors of the same gender

Image credit: Equality of Opportunity Project

A recent paper from the Equality of Opportunity Project explores the question: “What factors induce people to become inventors?” The investigators looked into the origins of patent holders in the U.S. using tax records and school district data with test scores.

The study reports that “children with parents in the top 1% of the income distribution are ten times more likely to become inventors than children with below-median income parents.” Strong math skills also contribute to the likelihood someone will grow up to invent, but the income of their parents has an impact on even the most talented math students: “Children at the top of their 3rd grade math class are much more likely to become inventors, but only if they come from high-income families.” The study also found that race and gender have an impact: “white children are three times more likely to become inventors than black children” and “only 18% of inventors are female.”

Exposure to innovation while growing up also impacted whether children grow up to be inventors.  Children from areas of the U.S. with more inventors are “much more likely to become inventors themselves.”  The gender of the adult innovators children see has an effect too.  According to the study, “our estimates imply that if girls were as exposed to female inventors as much as boys are to male inventors, the gender gap in innovation would fall by half.” The report concluded that “if women, minorities, and children from low-income families invent at the same rate as high-income white men, the innovation rate in America would quadruple.”

Libraries, as places that encourage exploration and curiosity, have an interest in supporting innovators and entrepreneurs. And, libraries can play a role in exposing children to innovation and inventors. Many libraries have makerspaces or areas for creation, which can expose children to creative problem solving and applications of math.  For example, the 2017 Library Journal best small library, Boundary County Library District, emphasizes invention.  Libraries also host speakers and programs, and they could bring in local inventors and innovators, or discuss famous inventors, who reflect the identities of children in their community.  Libraries can also strive to have collections that showcase inventors of many backgrounds and periodically highlight these titles. The Library of Congress has many suggested titles in their online guide to women inventors.

For more information, 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.

SHLB Coalition report estimates that it would cost $13-$19 billion to connect all community anchor institutions to high-speed broadband internet

Image credit: Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition

The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition recently released a report prepared by CTC Technology & Energy estimating how much it would cost to expand high-speed, fiber optic broadband internet to community anchor institutions – schools, libraries, hospitals, health care clinics, community colleges, and other public institutions that do not currently have direct fiber connections.

SHLB estimates that 34 million people living in the United States do not have access to broadband internet. However, nearly all (95%) Americans live in the same zip code area as a community anchor institution (Anchor). The authors argue that using Anchors as hubs to connect their surrounding communities to high-quality internet could be a cost-effective strategy to solve the digital divide, especially in rural areas.

The report provides estimates of the percentage of Anchors that are not yet connected to high-speed broadband connections. In dense metro areas, more than 4 in 5 (85%) Anchors are already connected. This is compared to only about 3 in 10 (30%) Anchors in the rural West and 2 in 5 (40%) in the Plains that are connected to high-speed broadband.

Based on the models used by the authors, the total cost to connect all the unconnected Anchors in the continental United States and Hawaii would be between $13 billion and $19 billion over the next 5-7 years. The cost per Anchor varies based on the regional and environmental difficulty of connecting the fiber network. For example, connecting an Anchor in a dense metro area would cost about $34,000 while an Anchor in a rural desert area would cost about $151,000 because the builders would not be able to take advantage of existing infrastructure. While these costs seem steep, the price for connecting anchors could drop by as much as half if a major, national effort is undertaken in cooperation with regional authorities and broadband providers.

For more information, 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 noticeable differences in genre popularity between print books and ebooks

Library Journal recently published the results of its Materials Survey 2018, an annual survey that gathers materials expenditure and circulation data from public libraries across the United States.

Although print book circulation has dropped in the past few years, print book purchases still make up over half (54%) of public libraries’ materials budgets, while netted media (audiobooks, DVDs/Blu-rays, and streaming media) used a little under one-third (30%) of the budget and ebooks used about a tenth (9%). Within netted media spending, audiobook spending rose 16% across all of the responding libraries, including a notable rise in downloadable audio.  Included for the first time on this survey, streaming media used 2% of the materials budget.

Librarians noted a few shifts in the types of print books that were popular among borrowers, most notably in non-fiction. Biography/memoir is now the most-circulated genre of non-fiction, knocking cookbooks down from an 8-year streak at the top. History circulation dropped by 12% and self-help/psychology dropped 20% since last year’s survey. In print fiction, mysteries remained the most popular while romance and Christian fiction circulation slipped down 12% and 14%, respectively.

About 3 in 5 (58%) respondents reported that ebook circulation increased at their library in the past year, although patrons tend to read different genres than they do in print. Like in print fiction, mystery and general fiction are the most circulated genres. However, they aren’t quite as popular as they are in print, and ebook circulation dropped in 2017. Meanwhile, romance ebook circulation rose by 8% and sci-fi/fantasy circulation increased by 18%. Like print nonfiction, biography/memoir is the most popular ebook genre. Politics/current events rocketed up to second place from a distant fourth last year, compared to being in sixth place among print circulation. History, in fifth place for print circulation, took third place in ebook circulation.

For more information, 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.

UNICEF report finds that 7 in 10 young people worldwide are digitally connected

Image credit: UNICEF

UNICEF recently released The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a Digital World. This report examines the impact that digital technology has had on the lives of children all over the world.

Young people are the most digitally connected age group worldwide. Seven in 10 (71%) young people use the internet, compared to a little less than half (48%) of the total population. However, this leaves out about 346 million young people – more than the total population of the United States – who are not using the internet or other digital tools. The children left out of digital connectivity are often those who could benefit most, creating a digital divide that could deepen existing socioeconomic divisions if it is not closed.

As part of the research for this report, UNICEF used the social messaging tool U-Report to survey young people (ages 13-24) about their internet use. They got 63,000 responses from youth living in 24 countries. About 2 in 5 respondents (42%) said that they taught themselves how to use the internet, while a similar number (39%) reported that they learned from friends or siblings. Young people from low-income countries are 2.5 times more likely than their wealthier counterparts to say that they need more access to digital devices to improve their lives online.

When young people were asked what they like most about using the internet, 2 in 5 (40%) said they like using it learn things for school and about a quarter (24%) like using it to learn skills that they can’t learn in school. When asked what they dislike about the internet, about a quarter (23%) mentioned violent content and a third (33%) dislike seeing unwanted sexual content. About 1 in 10 (8%) said that there is nothing they dislike about the internet, an answer that was more popular in low-income countries.

For more information about children growing up in a digital world, 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.

In Colorado school libraries, librarians are engaging with their school community and e-book use is on the rise

Every year, the Library Research Service conducts the School Library Survey to understand the state of school libraries in Colorado. This year there was a 29% response rate. Out of the 315 libraries that completed the survey, 56% have a certified teacher librarian or media specialist on staff.

Between 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, the median number of e-books increased and physical books decreased for elementary, middle, and high school library collections. For elementary and middle schools, the median number of computers also increased.

Most of the other statistics in the survey remained consistent between 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. School libraries staffed by a certified teacher librarian continue to show high rates of engagement with the larger school community, with 95% of librarians participating in school committees and 91% meeting regularly with their principal. At least once a week, the majority of school librarians help students use digital resources, use a variety of sources, use technology to organize information, apply critical thinking skills, and evaluate the credibility of sources. Librarians have special training in these skills and how to work with students and teachers.

The School Library Survey is undergoing a major revision with the goal of being as useful as possible for school library staff. This year’s survey will open on April 1, 2018. If you participated in the survey for 2016-2017, you can access your school’s library profile here.

To see more results from the 2016-17 Colorado School Library Survey, view the 2016-2017 Annual Colorado School Library Survey Highlights Fact Facts.

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.

Fourth-graders in the U.S. rank 15th in literacy in an international reading literacy study

The National Center for Education Statistics recently released a first look at the results of the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and the new ePIRLS. This assessment is administered every five years to fourth-graders in participating countries around the world. PIRLS assesses student performance in reading literacy, while ePIRLS, administered for the first time in 2016, measures students’ approaches to informational reading in an online environment.

The overall PIRLS average reading score for fourth-graders in the United States was  549 out 1000 possible points, ranking 15th out of the 58 countries participating. The U.S. average score declined from the last time PIRLS was administered in 2011 (556), but remained higher than the international centerpoint (500). About 1 in 5 (16%) U.S. fourth-graders hit the “advanced” benchmark (a score of 625 or higher) on the PIRLS scale, and over half (53%) scored at or above the “high” benchmark (550).  Female students in the U.S. scored higher on average than males (553 vs. 545). Students attending public schools with more than 75% of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch scored lower on average (516) than the U.S. overall average reading score.

Sixteen countries participated in the first ePIRLS assessment. Fourth-graders in the U.S. ranked 6th out of the participating school systems, with an average score of 557 out of 1000 on the online informational reading scale. Student scores were distributed similarly to the original PIRLS assessment – about 1 in 5 (18%) U.S. fourth-graders hit the “advanced” benchmark, and over half (56%) hit the “high” benchmark. Like with PIRLS, female students in the U.S. scored higher on average than male students (560 vs. 554), while students at schools with more students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches scored lower than average (527).

For more information about how fourth-graders in the U.S. stack up to those in other countries in literacy, 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.

Study finds that the learning environment at home prior to kindergarten impacts children’s academic performance in 5th grade

A study recently published in Applied Developmental Science measured the connection between children’s home environments before kindergarten and children’s academic skills during their 5th grade year. The study found that “early home learning environments related to children’s academic skills up to 10 years later across all subgroups studied–White, Black, Hispanic, English-speaking, Hispanic Spanish-speaking” (13).

Children’s early learning environments predicted their academic skills the summer before they began kindergarten, and their academic skills at that time predicted their academic skills in 5th grade (12). The researchers concluded that “experiences parents provide their infants as early as the first year of life may solidify into patterns of engagement that will either continue to support or impede children’s emerging skills over time” (12).

The study included 2,204 mothers and their children from low-income and ethnically diverse backgrounds. Children’s home environments and their academic skills were assessed the summer before they began kindergarten and again during 5th grade. Home learning environments were measured based on “children’s participation in learning activities, the quality of mothers’ engagement with children, and the availability of learning materials in the home across children’s first five years of life” (3).

Children’s academic skills were measured using assessments of their vocabulary, literacy skills, math skills, and cognitive ability. In their analysis, the researchers controlled for other characteristics of families, like the mother’s education background, gender and firstborn status of the child in the study, race/ethnicity of the family, mother’s employment status, and if there was father figure living in the home.

Libraries are well-positioned to work with families in those critical years before their child enters kindergarten.  Libraries can support positive early home learning environments by sharing ideas for learning activities, modeling and supporting positive caregiver-child interactions, and providing free learning materials.

For more information, the full article 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.

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