Fast Facts Reports

Libraries Nationwide Report Circulation Policies

Do circulation policies vary widely throughout the country? How do the policies of other metropolitan libraries in the U.S. compare with those of Colorado?

To find out, in June 1996, we surveyed two dozen metropolitan public libraries nationwide, 10 of which are Colorado public libraries. These libraries reported their circulation policies for different formats, and told us how they inform patrons of due dates.

Similar Trends Discovered for Different Formats
After compiling results of the surveys, we found a reassuring trend: Circulation policies for most format materials (books,  periodicals, audio cassettes, and audio CDs) are fairly uniform among libraries surveyed.

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Materials Challenges 1995

Challenges to Displays
This year, the single most common reason for a challenge was “homosexuality.” This accounted for almost two-thirds of all complaints. The next most common objection was “unsuited to age group.” Both objections challenged displays in Colorado.

The challenges in Colorado public libraries in 1995 included 3 displays; one by P-FLAG at Mesa County Public Library District, “Banned Books Week” and “Population and Planet Earth” at Jefferson County Public Library.

In Mesa County, the library received 53 challenges against a display by Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians (P-FLAG). The library also received an equal number of supportive comments, after widespread community discussions about the display. The Board of Trustees voted to keep the policy allowing community groups to sign up to use display space.

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School Library Media Centers in Colorado: A 1995-96 Status Report

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Whoever said it, it could not have been truer of Colorado’s school library media centers (LMCs) in 1996. The 1995-96 school year was another year of dramatic changes associated with the information superhighway, but it was also the second year in a row of alarming LMC staff cuts.

Following is a brief summary of the good news and the bad news about LMCs:

The Good News

  • School libraries really have become multimedia information centers. Almost 28,000 CD-ROM products are available via the state’s LMCs—an increase of more than three and a half times since 1994. Video collections have almost doubled in size during the same period.

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Public Information Officers in Selected Public Libraries, 1996

At the request of one of Colorado’s public libraries, the Library Research Service conducted a survey to determine prevailing salaries and related data for public information officers (PIOs) in public libraries. The survey was sent to all Colorado public libraries with budgets of $675,000 and over and to public libraries nationwide serving 75,000-99,999. Sixteen responses were received including 6 from Colorado and 10 from other states.

Position Titles
The PIO function is served by public library staff bearing a variety of position titles. For full-time, professional positions, the following 8 titles were reported by 9 responding libraries.

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Wages of Colorado Librarians & Library Assistants in Context 1994

If you are a professional librarian or a library assistant, you probably feel like your job is a combination of several other types of jobs, most of which are a lot better paid. Perhaps you are right. Consider the following data excerpted from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s February 1996 publication: Occupational Wages in Colorado: Average Wages for Over 700 Occupations.

In 1994, professional librarians in Colorado earned an average hourly wage of $17.33, while library technicians and assistants averaged $10.75 and $9.20 per hour, respectively. The following tables (see full report) provide context for these figures by ranking average hourly wages of librarians and library assistants with related occupations. Note: OES (Occupational Employment Statistics) codes are included to assist readers in other states in replicating these tables using data from their own state labor departments.

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Location, Location, Location

With over half of their outlets in non-metropolitan areas, public libraries are well-situated to be on-ramps to the Information Superhighway for residents of outlying and rural areas.

Public libraries can serve as on-ramps to the Information Superhighway—access points to electronically networked information for those who cannot afford—or otherwise easily obtain—a computer with a modem and a subscription to a commercial online service or a non-profit Internet access provider. The nation’s public libraries are especially well-situated to play this role in non-metropolitan areas where the availability of computers, access providers, and an adequate telecommunications infrastructure cannot be taken for granted.

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Give Yourself a Little Credit, Get a Library Card

In Colorado, public library cards are as prevalent as Visa credit cards. In 1996, Americans had over 200 million Visa credit cards. If Coloradans held a proportional share of those cards, there were an estimated 2.8 million Visa cards in the Centennial state. In 1995, Coloradans had 2.5 million library cards. If registration of new borrowers by the state’s public libraries continued at the rate demonstrated between 1993 and 1995, the number of library cards in 1996 was 2.8 million.

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Academic Librarian Salaries in Colorado 1995-96

How well are academic librarians paid in Colorado? The answer to that question depends on the particular higher education institution and the type of librarian position. At many institutions, librarians in many positions are paid well above average compared to regional and national norms, but others are not so well paid, and Colorado’s highest salaries pale in comparison with top salaries in neighboring states and throughout the country.

This report presents the results of a recent LRS survey for selected positions and compares them with the high, mean (average), and median (middle) salaries reported in the West and Southwest and all U.S. regions in the 1995 edition of the ALA Survey of Librarian Salaries. The 6 types of positions covered by this report are: director, deputy/associate/assistant director, department/branch head, reference/public services librarian, cataloger and/or classifier, and beginning librarian.

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Availability of Federal & State Tax Forms

Of Colorado’s 18 larger public libraries in metropolitan areas, 15 (83 percent) are making available federal and state tax forms this year. As more libraries develop home pages on the World Wide Web, this service is likely to become less common. In recent years, many public libraries have discontinued this service, owing to the extraordinary demands it makes on library staff during the tax “season.” Some believe that this service generates questions that many reference staff are not trained adequately to address.

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User Fees & Charges for Resort Libraries in Colorado 1996

At the request of one of Colorado’s 12 public libraries in resort communities, this group of libraries was surveyed regarding the range of services they provide and the types and amounts of fees or other charges they assess for services. The results of this survey indicate that free public library service is alive and well in the overwhelming majority of the state’s resort communities.

Loans of Materials

  • All Colorado resort libraries have audio book collections that are available to the public at no cost.
  • Eight of the state’s 12 resort libraries provide music on cassette, all at no cost to the public.
  • Eleven of the dozen libraries in Colorado resort areas have video collections. Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs, the only one that charges for video loans, charges one dollar per week. Basalt Library District assesses a one dollar per day late fee on videos returned after their due dates.

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  • Public Library Statistics & Profiles
    Dive into annual statistics from the Colorado Public Library Annual Report using our interactive tool, results tailored to trustees, and state totals and averages.
  • School Library Impact Studies
    School libraries have a profound impact on student achievement. Explore studies about this topic by LRS and other researchers in our comprehensive guide.
  • Fast Fact Reports
    Looking for a quick rundown of library research? Check out our Fast Facts, which highlight research and statistics about various library topics.


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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.

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

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