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Study finds 7 school library characteristics linked to student achievement

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Image credit: School Library Journal

School Library Journal recently reported on the newest statewide study on the impact of school libraries for student success, commissioned by the South Carolina Association of School Librarians (SCASL). While this now marks more than a dozen states that have conducted studies showing a link between school library programs and student achievement, this study was the first to show school library’s contribution through test results for specific English language arts (ELA) and writing standards.

In South Carolina in 2012-2013, 7 school library characteristics were linked to student achievement, even when controlling for factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, disability, and free or reduced meal eligibility. Those characteristics are: 1) library staffing, 2) total library expenditures, 3) librarian hours spent on teaching activities, 4) circulation of library materials, 5) size of collection, 6) availability of computers, and 7) number of group visits to the library.

While an increase in each of these areas was positively correlated with better test scores and strengths in standards that were available for this study, a few findings stood out above the rest. First, students saw the most benefits when their school librarian spent at least 20 hours a week collaborating with instructors on teaching activities. Second, although ebooks are not yet widespread in South Carolina school libraries (with a median of 40 titles), students at schools with larger print and ebook collections were more likely to show strengths on writing standards. This was especially true for poor students and students eligible for meal subsidy. Third, while all students were positively impacted by access to computers, this was especially true for males, Hispanics, those with limited English and eligibility for meal subsidy.

Based on this study and others like it, the trend is clear – school libraries and the librarians who lead them are making a difference in education.

You can get more information about other school library impact studies conducted in Colorado and across the county here. A more detailed report on the South Carolina study can also be found 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.

74% of U.S. public libraries saw increase in operating budget in 2015, LJ survey finds

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Image credit: Library Journal

According to Library Journal’s latest budget survey, U.S. public libraries continue to recover from the recession, but the pace of that that recovery may be slowing somewhat. Of the 371 libraries that responded to the survey, nearly three-quarters (74%) reported an increase in operating budgets between 2014 and 2015, which is equivalent to the 73% last year who reported the same.

Public library fiscal gains and losses were not equal across the board, however. Similar to the findings from last year, larger libraries (with a few exceptions) tended to see larger increases in their operating, materials, and staffing budgets. Overall, materials budgets saw a 3.7% increase and salary budgets rose 4%. The smallest libraries saw the most meager growth in their funding, a factor that has prevented many libraries serving small towns and rural areas from investing in new technology, providing new programs, or increasing their staff size.

Large libraries, or those that serve more than one million people, have seen the biggest gains since the recession. The materials budgets of large libraries grew more than four times (6.3%) that of the smallest libraries (1.2%) in the past year, and the largest libraries were able to increase the amount of hours they were open. In addition to this, it appears the largest libraries have been able to expand at a much higher rate. While three-quarters of the smallest libraries reported no change in their staffing numbers in the past year, nearly four-fifths (79%) of libraries serving more than one million increased full time equivalent positions by an average of 31 people per system.

This looks pretty promising for the largest libraries (especially those in urban, Southern centers according to the survey), but the benefits of library services continue to be skewed to a particular segment of the population. For those in small towns and rural areas, a shortage of funding can mean that libraries must make difficult decisions, especially regarding technology and outreach, which may leave the populations they serve further behind.

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.

Trends in U.S. Public Library Websites and Social Media

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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.

 

Job postings on LibraryJobline have increased 188% since 2009

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LibraryJobline, LRS’s website for library job postings and resources, saw its best year yet in 2015 in terms of jobs that were posted. In the latest Fast Facts Report, 656 total job postings were added to LibraryJobline last year, which is almost three times the number of job postings in LibaryJobline’s slowest year, 2009. More than two-thirds (68%) of those job postings were located in Colorado, and just over half (53%) of jobs were full-time, a slight decrease from the previous year.

Average librarian salaries are continuing to increase and surpass their recession levels, although significant progress is slow. Jobs not requiring an MLIS saw the biggest salary increase in 2015, up to $17.05 after hovering around $15.00 for the past several years. MLIS required ($24.80) and preferred ($22.37) saw slight decreases from the previous year, although they are both still well above the average starting salary for any year before 2014.

Subscriptions to the site continued to show healthy growth, with 546 new job seekers and 115 new employers added in 2015, and we sent 741,000 emails – the most ever in a single year!

Are you hiring at your library? In the library job market yourself? Sign up for Library Jobline as an employer or jobseeker. Jobseekers can tell us what jobs they’re interested in and get emails sent straight to their inbox whenever new posts meet their criteria. And employers can reach more than 4,000 jobseekers and more than 900 followers on Twitter @libraryjobline.

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 EBSCO survey, nearly two-thirds of college students use library resources in their research

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EBSCO has released an infographic that illustrates their findings from a 2015 survey of 208 students about how college students conduct research. The survey focused on general research trends, how students start research, as well as the research experience. The results indicate that while students are largely receiving library instruction and using library resources, they are often challenged by or are under-utilizing certain services.

For example, nearly three-quarters (72%) of students surveyed received library instruction in college, and while students often begin their research process with Google or Wikipedia, library resources are still the most popular for conducting research, with nearly two-thirds (64%) using resources found in the library. In addition to this, well over half (60%) of the survey respondents rate their own research skills as intermediate, although very few (7%) consider themselves an expert.

Yet, even as students see the merit in library resources, many may not consult a librarian in the research process. Despite the fact that 41% of students reported that evaluating sources was their main difficulty, over half (58%) of the students would turn to the professor first if they needed help on a project, while just under a third (32%) would go to a librarian. In addition to this, the survey results suggest that college students find online research tools difficult or inconvenient. About 2 in 5 (39%) found the library’s website “challenging.” They also overwhelmingly preferred the basic search rather than the advanced option, and the students surveyed did not understand the term “database.”

This survey reveals that college and university libraries are doing a good job of reaching students with instruction, and that students still value the resources that libraries have to offer. However, libraries serving college students need to continue to promote libraries and librarians as a first point of contact for information literacy help, and need to prioritize usability, especially as students increasingly conduct their research remotely.

This infographic is packed with useful findings, and you can soak it all in 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.

Despite intentions, only 25% of community college students transfer to a bachelor’s program within 5 years, according to the Community College Research Center

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Image credit: Community College Research Center

The Community College Research Center conducts research on a wide variety of issues affecting two-year colleges nationwide. As a route to higher education for well over a third (40%) of undergraduates in the U.S., community colleges are for many an important gateway to improved opportunities and earning potential. Their current research about student completion and transfer rates reveals a couple of interesting trends concerning students’ pathways through postsecondary education.

For example, although 80% of students who enter community college intend to transfer to a four-year program in order to complete a bachelor’s degree, only a quarter (25%) of them actually transfer within 5 years of starting school. In addition to this, while nearly three-quarters (72%) of transfers end up in public institutions, a disproportionate amount of minorities (Black and Hispanic) and under-performing students end up in for-profit colleges when they transfer, and are less likely to complete their bachelor’s degree.

A finding that may come as surprising is that it’s not the increased rigor and expectations of four-year programs that is the primary reason causing transfer students to stall, but rather the loss of credits due to transferring. With all of this said, the students who do transfer successfully reap pretty significant rewards, saving significant amounts of money on their lower division coursework and seeing essentially the same income benefits as four-year institution natives.

Since community colleges are such significant gateways to higher education for a large proportion of the country’s population, and especially the underserved, libraries at two-year institutions represent important points of contact that can help students gain the skills they need to achieve a degree, and the knowledge necessary for successful transfer. Additionally, libraries at four-year institutions should be aware of the difficulties transfers face, and should strive to meet the unique needs of this group.

You can read the full report on college transfer students here, and find other current projects from the Community College Research Center 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.

Lack of diverse books is mirrored by a publishing industry that is 79% white, according to the Diversity Baseline Survey

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Image Credit: Lee & Low Books

Many industries, libraries included, are trying to find ways to increase and promote diversity, but as it turns out the source of much of our information may also have natural bias. In 2015 Lee & Low Books conducted a Diversity Baseline Survey in order to better assess what diversity existed in the book review and publishing industries. The voluntary survey was sent to 13,237 people (with a 26% response rate) across 8 review journals and 34 publishing firms.

In 2014 the Cooperative Children’s Book Center found that just 2% of children’s books were by Black/African American authors, and over the past 20 years the number of diverse books published yearly has hardly budged above 10%. With this in mind, the Diversity Baseline Survey is quite revealing.

Nearly four-fifths (79%) of publishing and review journal staff self-identify as white. In the industry overall, the respondents also largely identify their gender as Female (78%), their orientation as heterosexual (88%), and their disability status as “Not differently able” (92%). These general findings about diversity are consistent across the board for all position types, except that men are twice as likely to be at the executive level (40%) than the average for the industry.

So how might these findings be useful for libraries? For starters, when it comes to collection development in public libraries, purchasing a little bit of everything that is available may not be enough. In order for diversity initiatives to be effective, they must include conscious efforts not only to have staff and librarians with diverse backgrounds, but also to ensure that collections are actually reflective of the communities that the libraries are a part of. Even more broadly, though, the study confirms a growing awareness of industries whose demographics do not reflect the U.S. population at large, and how this might hinder efforts to build a culture that is more inclusive and representative.

You can see all of the Diversity Baseline Survey’s findings 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.

Study published in C&RL indicates 3 information literacy skills are the most important to employers: innovation, critical thinking, and collaboration

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We know now that strong information literacy skills are very important in both the academic and work environments. In a new study published in College & Research Libraries, Victoria Raish and Emily Rimlaud seek, through a nation-wide survey of employers, to find out employers’ perceptions of critical information skills and their potential acceptance of a new technological measure of student skills, called digital badges.

Digital badges, as described by the authors, are a digital representation of an ability gained that “certifies skills at a more granular level.” The authors argue that this method of representing accumulated knowledge of various literacy skills could prevent the uneven nature of “one-shot” instruction provided by professors or librarians by establishing core competencies and identifying gaps.

The survey asked participants to rate a variety of critical information literacy skills from the employer perspective. It was found that three sets of skills had a statistically significant difference from the others, and were thus deemed the most important to employers. These were innovation, critical thinking and using quality information, and collaboration. In addition to this, nearly a quarter (24%) of employers indicated that grades and GPA do not correlate with preparedness for the workplace.

Universities and academic libraries in particular need to ensure that their information literacy curriculum at least closely matches the most common expectations students will meet when entering the workforce. This survey indicates some important areas of emphasis, as well as the potential that digital badges might offer for student success. Over one-third (33%) of participants said that digital badges would definitely be useful when evaluating applicants, and nearly the whole remainder (62%) said they might be useful, but needed to learn more. However these skills are represented, every indicator suggests that information literacy instruction needs to become a core function of higher education, not peripheral training.

To learn more about the survey, current findings about information literacy instruction in higher education, and how digital badges can serve as a new measure for student skill, interest, and ability, read the study in full 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.

 

65% of Overdrive survey respondents say they visit a library in person or online at least once per week

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Image credit: Overdrive

The ebook and audiobook platform Overdrive recently released results from a survey of public library website users that investigated their preferences and use of library resources, in particular print and digital books. More than 16,000 respondents shared their opinions and behaviors to shed light on how public libraries are meeting these users’ needs.

More than 2 in 5 (43%) of respondents reported visiting the library—either in person or online—more than once per week, with a total of 65% saying they visit at least once per week. Of course this survey polled those who were already at a library’s website, so this skews higher compared to broader surveys we’ve shared before (such as those from Pew Research).

Interestingly, respondents split 50-50 on whether they visit the library (again, in person or online) with a particular title in mind or without a title in mind. Split about a third each, respondents said they’d be willing to wait “as long as necessary” for a title (34%) or up to a month (32%). Perhaps most helpful to libraries is that if users are not willing to wait for a title, a majority (65%) said they wouldn’t buy the book instead. Users seem to understand the nature of library collections and that waiting is part of the process.

Respondents also shared their typical methods of discovering both physical and digital books. More than half (53%) said they only found books in a digital setting while 16% only found books in a library or bookstore (physical setting). About a third (31%) relied on both digital and in-person options to find books.

Learn more about how Overdrive’s survey respondents reading and library habits with the full 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.

98% of CTBL survey respondents rate their satisfaction with CTBL services as “excellent” or “good”

CTBL FF

The results are in for the 2014 Colorado Talking Book Library (CTBL) Patron Satisfaction Survey, which seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the library and overall satisfaction with its services. Highlights from the survey are detailed in our new Fast Facts report and previously published Closer Look reportCTBL provides free library services, including recorded books, Braille materials, large print books, and descriptive videos, to Coloradans of all ages who are unable to read standard print because of physical, visual, or learning disabilities.

Out of 6,500 active individual patrons, CTBL distributed the survey to an age-stratified sample of 1,733 patrons, and received 454 responses. The majority of respondents (60%) are over the age of 60, and more than a third (36%) have at least a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The survey reveals that the most common method of communication with CTBL is the phone, with three-fourths of respondents (74%) communicating this way, and a third (32%) of respondents communicating with the library approximately every 6 months. This lack of regular and face-to-face communication suggests not that patrons are dissatisfied with CTBL, but rather that they are pleased with the library’s current services. In fact, almost all (98%) of the survey respondents indicate their satisfaction with CTBL as “excellent” or “good,” and the service components rated most highly by respondents (all rated above 90% “excellent” and “good” combined) are the courtesy of library staff, the completeness and condition of books  received by patrons, the ease of contacting CTBL, the quality of the playback machine provided by CTBL, and the speed with which books are delivered to patrons.

The results obtained from this survey were consistent with the results gathered from past surveys conducted every 18 months since 2004.

Read the full 2014 CTBL Patron Satisfaction Survey 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.

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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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