What is the Value of an MLIS to You?

In May 2011, librarians, library staff, and library school students weighed in on the LRS 60-Second Survey The Value of an MLIS Degree to You. Almost 2,500 people from every state and 15 countries, representing all library types, responded. Around 1,300 respondents left comments, sharing additional thoughts on the value of the MLIS degree today.

What is a 60-Second Survey?
In the style of an online readers’ poll, LRS’s 60-Second Surveys are short and to the point. Narrow by intent, these surveys capture the perceptions of respondents on a single timely topic. The online surveys are publicized through local, regional, and national library listservs, blogs, etc., and as a result most respondents have some connection to the library profession.

When asked if they thought their MLIS degree was/is worth the time and money invested in it, 4 in 5 respondents (79%) strongly agreed or agreed that their degree was worth the investment (see Chart 1). Eleven percent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, and 10 percent were “neutral.”

Chart 1
My MLIS Degree Was/Is Worth the Time and
Money Invested in It
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Respondents who have had their MLIS degree the longest were more likely to indicate that the time and money invested in the MLIS was worth it (see Chart 2). Nine out of 10 (92%) respondents who have had their MLIS for 16+ years strongly agreed or agreed that the degree was worth the investment. Almost 90 percent of respondents who have had their degrees for 11-15 years strongly agreed or agreed that the investment in the MLIS degree was worth it, as did 80 percent of respondents who have had their degrees for 6-10 years. While around two-thirds of newer professionals felt that their investment in the degree was worthwhile, they were less likely to strongly agree and were more likely to be neutral or disagree. Respondents who completed their degree 1-5 years ago were the most likely to indicate that the degree was not worth the time and money they invested in it.

306_Chart 2

Survey respondents also indicated whether or not they would recommend pursuing an MLIS degree if asked today. Almost two-thirds of respondents (63%) would recommend pursuing the MLIS degree, with one-fourth of respondents indicating they would “highly recommend” the degree (see Chart 3). Close to 1 in 6 respondents would not recommend pursuing the degree, and 7 percent would actively dissuade others from pursuing it. Around 14 percent of the respondents said that they were not sure if they would recommend the degree if asked.
306_Chart 3

Comment Analysis
An analysis of respondents’ comments offered insights into why respondents would or would not recommend the MLIS degree. Comments were grouped into the following 6 categories and could be coded in more than 1 category (see Chart 5):

  • MLIS content: Any reference to MLIS (or equivalent) degree programs and curriculum, including knowledge and skills and/or the need to supplement with additional degrees or experience.
  • Career advancement: Any reference to the ability to advance in a library career, including the degree being a requirement.
  • Job market: Any reference to the availability of professional positions for MLIS holders and the ease or difficulty in obtaining those positions.
  • Personal financial impact: Any reference to the cost of the degree and the salaries earned post-degree.
  • Intrinsic value: Any reference to personal values and beliefs related to working in the profession.
  • Perception of the profession: Any reference to the public’s or government/policy makers’ view and/or appreciation of librarianship.

306_Chart 5

Comments were also coded as positive, negative, or neutral/mixed in tone (see Chart 6). Respondents commented predominantly negatively on the job market, the cost of the degree, and the perception of the profession, but they were more upbeat about the degree’s intrinsic value and possibilities for career advancement. Comments relating to MLIS content were the most ambivalent in tone.
306_Chart 6

“Even before the current economic crash, many employers were cutting professional-level jobs, either replacing them with lower-qualified positions or not replacing them at all, due to the widespread perceptions that the existence of the internet and ebooks make both libraries and librarians unneeded and unwanted.” – Survey Respondent
“The field is just too saturated, and only those who can afford the greatest flexibility in time, money, and geography can get great jobs. I would hope that anyone wishing to pursue the degree, which I do love, would be able to hear that kind of information transparently… just so they know.” – Survey Respondent
“An MLIS is only valuable if it provides flexibility for today’s uncertain job market. Also, I think an MLIS degree is less valuable than it was years ago because the job market has been flooded with too many program graduates, especially since the programs can be done online, anyone anywhere can do it and you don’t have to move to a library school.” – Survey Respondent

The Value of an MLIS to You 60-second survey showed that a majority of respondents would both recommend the degree to others today (63%) and agree that the MLIS is worth the investment of time and money (79%). While a sizeable chunk of respondents would be reluctant to recommend the degree or to say that the MLIS retains its value today, their comments show that any hesitations about recommending the degree stem largely from a weak job market, the financial burden of education, concerns about the content and delivery of LIS curriculum, and a generally negative perception of the profession by the public. Yet, comments about the intrinsic, non-monetary awards of the librarianship, and about opportunities for career advancement, compensate for these drawbacks, especially for those who have had their degrees for more than 15 years. As 1 survey respondent articulated: “Every day I go to work excited about what I do, whether it’s doing story time, visiting classes, doing readers advisory for our patrons or teaching classes to the staff and public, I feel like what I do matters to the quality of life of our individual patrons and to the vibrancy of our community.”

“The degree itself is only half the opportunity. You must also know deeply, and be able to articulate clearly, why you pursued it and what libraries actually mean to you and to society.” -Survey Respondent

For a more detailed analysis of this survey and respondents’ comments, as well as a comparison to LRS’s 2008 Value of an MLIS survey, see the Closer Look Report at:

“Great Service!” Coloradans Embrace AskColorado and AskAcademic

AskColorado (, a statewide virtual reference service, was launched on September 2, 2003. Colorado libraries joined the cooperative as members to provide 24/7 chat reference service to Coloradans. Over the years, the cooperative honed in on 3 essential and high-use entry-points for patrons: K-12, General, and Academic. These entry points remain today. In 2008 the cooperative’s academic libraries voted to accept academic members from outside the state of Colorado; and in 2010, the academic queue was re-branded as AskAcademic and a separate website was launched ( AskColorado and AskAcademic are funded with contributions coming directly from the member libraries and federal funds provided by the Colorado State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act.

“This was my first time using the website. I LOVE IT! The librarian was very nice and helpful. I will definitely return.” – AskColorado User

Though AskColorado as a whole was previously evaluated by the Library Research Service (LRS), 2011 marks the first year LRS has evaluated AskAcademic as a separate entry point. This Fast Facts presents the results of the AskColorado and AskAcademic customer exit surveys that were administered to almost 1,300 people (1,091 AskColorado users and 206 AskAcademic users) between April and October 2011.1

AskColorado User Satisfaction
Responses show that the majority of AskColorado users are pleased with the service and are likely to be repeat users (see Chart 1). Four out of 5 users (80%) rated AskColorado librarians as “very helpful” or “helpful,” and 6 out of 7 users (85%) said that they would be “very likely” or “likely” to use the service again. Responses to the question “To what extent are you satisfied with the answer(s) to your question(s)?” were similarly positive: More than three-fourths (77%) of AskColorado users were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the answers they received. Compared with previous evaluations of AskColorado, in 2011 the service received the highest ratings yet on the questions of librarian helpfulness, future use, and overall satisfaction.
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AskAcademic User Satisfaction
Satisfaction was even higher among AskAcademic users. Nearly 9 in 10 AskAcademic survey respondents indicated that the librarians who assisted them were either very helpful or helpful (89%), and most (86%) were either very satisfied or satisfied with the answers they received to their questions. Answers to a question about the likelihood of using AskAcademic again were even more enthusiastic, with 94 percent of respondents saying that they were “very likely” or “likely” to utilize the service again (see Chart 2).

“I was a little uncomfortable about using the library because I haven’t been in school for over twenty years, but the assistance I received today eased my fears and made it into [an] enjoyable experience. I am so glad for the library and now not only do I know how to use it I welcome it. Thank you!” – AskAcademic User

305_Chart 2

The surveys also asked respondents about what they achieved by using the service. Respondents could select multiple answers to this question. The most popular outcomes for both services were to “identify a new source of information to search” (31%), “obtain a specific fact or document” (30%), and “do research for homework for a school project” (30%) (see Chart 3).
305_Chart 3

*“Other” responses included assistance with job searches, e-readers, and other library services.

In addition, comments from AskColorado and AskAcademic users show that these virtual reference services complement and enhance traditional library services, enabling users to speak with a librarian late at night or to fill in the gaps caused by closures and reduced hours. In all 5 years of AskColorado evaluations, “Learned how the library can help me” has been a top outcome. Respondents may even use the services to gauge whether a trip to the library is worth their time. For example, 1 user commented: “This feature showed me how I might find info at the library, making it worth a trip downtown on a Saturday. LOVED this.”

Survey data gathered from 2004 to the present shows that Coloradans are consistently and increasingly pleased with the virtual reference service AskColorado. In its first year of evaluation, AskAcademic performed similarly well. Respondents’ comments further underscored the value users place on these services: “[The AskColorado librarian] did her best with a difficult research problem and found information in a few minutes that took me months!” concluded one user.

High Traffic, Low Cost: The Colorado Courier Continues to Save Libraries Millions Annually in Shipping Charges

The Colorado Library Courier System, managed by the Colorado Library Consortium (CLiC), provides delivery service for hundreds of libraries (academic, public, school, and special) across the state. Participating libraries pay for courier service based on the number of days they use the service per week as well as their shipping volume. This service saves libraries from the hassle and expense of turning to other alternatives if such an option did not exist. In such a scenario, libraries would presumably need to hire a commercial service such as FedEx, United Parcel Service (UPS), or the United States Postal Service (USPS) to transport materials. Two previous studies that compared the costs of these services to the courier cost demonstrated that the courier system does indeed provide substantial cost savings to participating libraries.2

Colorado libraries send an estimated 5.9 million items annually via the courier system. Compared with the costs of using a commercial shipping service, they save up to an estimated $7.1 million per year by using the courier.

To update these results, the Library Research Service (LRS) conducted a study in Fall 2011 to determine the quantity and type of materials that libraries were sending via the courier system, and then to estimate, based on these numbers, the system’s cost effectiveness versus using a commercial service. All courier libraries were asked to participate in the study by tracking their courier use for 1 week, either September 26-30 or October 3-7, 2011. During this time period, 372 libraries were part of the courier system, 284 of which were eligible for participation in the study.3 A total of 193 (68%) of these submitted data.

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Annual Courier Traffic
The data reported by the participating libraries was extrapolated4 and annualized to estimate the total number of materials shipped per year for all 284 libraries. The results indicated that there was a high volume of traffic moving through the courier system: an estimated 5.9 million items annually. As Table 1 shows, more than two-thirds of these items were books (68.7%), followed by DVDs (16.0%), audio books (6.7%), and music CDs (6.2%). “Other” materials (VHS tapes, etc.) made up just 1.5 percent of the traffic, and copies/correspondence and packages accounted for less than 1 percent each. An estimated 25,320 of the total number of materials (less than 1%) were courtesy returns.


Table 1
Estimated Annual Number of Materials by Type
All Courier Libraries (284)

302_Table 1The estimated total weight for these materials—which was calculated by using the average weights for each material type (books, DVDs, etc.)—was 2.5 million pounds.

Estimated Annual Shipping Costs
LRS then calculated the shipping costs—which are based on weight—if libraries were to use USPS Library Mail, FedEx Ground, or UPS Ground5 instead of the courier system. Based on these annualized estimates, the courier system saves Colorado libraries millions of dollars each year (see Chart 1). The statewide courier costs $900,0006 annually for all 284 libraries, whereas USPS’s library mail service would cost an estimated $4.7 million, and FedEx Ground/UPS Ground7 would cost more than $8 million.

It is important to note that the cost savings realized by using the courier service extend beyond the shipping fees. If libraries used a commercial service, they would also incur costs for packing materials (e.g., boxes, bubble wrap, shipping labels, tape, etc.) and the additional staff time needed to pack the materials. In contrast, materials are packed in bins to be shipped via the courier service, meaning that minimal packing materials and less staff time are required.

Chart 1
Estimated Annual Shipping Costs
All Courier Libraries (284)
302_Chart 1

This study demonstrates that Colorado libraries experience significant cost savings by using the statewide courier. By providing a cost-effective means for transporting materials, this service enables libraries of all sizes to share items from their collections, and enhances the number and types of resources available to patrons.

It is important to remember that the numbers presented here are estimates. The annual figures are calculated based on data provided by a sample of courier libraries during a 1-week time period. There is a fair amount of diversity among the courier libraries that might not have been fully captured by the sample of libraries that chose to participate in the study, as well as fluctuation in traffic patterns from week to week. Therefore, the actual figures for materials transported and commercial shipping costs may vary a bit in either direction. However, it is reasonable to conclude that the courier saves Colorado libraries millions of dollars in shipping costs each year.

2010 Academic Librarian Salaries: West and Southwest Region Offers Competitive Pay

At a time when unemployed academic librarians worry about the prospects of finding a job, many employed librarians face cuts in pay or hours and wonder how their salaries compare to those of other librarians in similar positions across the country. Using the 2010 American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) Salary Survey8data, this Fast Facts compares the average academic librarian salaries in the West and Southwest region,9 which includes Colorado, to the salaries of academic librarians in all regions. These regional comparisons are broken down by type of academic institution and job category,10 so that a total of 18 comparisons are presented.

The ALA-APA Salary Survey is a national survey conducted to ensure librarians, and those who hire librarians, have accurate and timely salary data. Information about the methodology, as well as additional data and findings, can be found in the 2010 ALA-APA Salary Survey.

University library directors in the West and Southwest region are the highest paid academic librarians. They averaged a yearly salary of $140,456 in 2010 (see Chart 1).

297_Chart 1

That figure is 16 percent more than the average reported for university directors in all regions, and 97 percent more than the national average salary of a director at a two-year college. Similarly, university deputy, associate, or assistant directors in this region were the highest paid librarians in their job category. Their average salary was 14 percent higher than those in all regions.

The West and Southwest region also has the highest average salary for department head/coordinator/senior manager positions; this position at a two-year college has an average salary that is 26 percent higher than the national average (see Chart 2). Yet that same position and region also has the lowest average salary at a four-year college, making 17 percent less per year, compared with all regions. The manager/supervisor of support staff category in the West and Southwest follows this trend, with those at two-year colleges making the highest average salary in this category, and those at four-year colleges making the lowest average salary. In fact, four-year colleges pay the lowest average salaries in every job category except beginning librarian.

297_Chart 2

For the job category “librarians who do not supervise,” the highest average salary is for librarians in the West and Southwest region in two-year colleges (see Chart 3). Similarly, beginning librarians at two-year colleges in this region make the highest average salary of all academic institutions in this job category.

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In 2010, the West and Southwest remained a competitive region for academic librarian salaries. Academic librarians in the West and Southwest received higher salaries than the national average in 11 of the 18 comparisons reported here. This was particularly the case in two-year colleges; academic librarians in the West and Southwest who worked in this type of institution reported the highest average salaries in each job category except director/assistant director.

Colorado’s Library Job Climate: 2007-2010 Insights from

Over 500 registered employers use to post open positions. The site is managed by the Library Research Service, a unit of the Colorado State Library, and most of the jobs posted (89% in 2010) are located in Colorado. Jobseekers can tailor searches to their own qualifications and preferences and receive customized emails when new jobs of interest are posted. The database-driven site has also been gathering statistics on these job postings since 2007. This Fast Facts reports on these statistics for 2010 and outlines some of the trends in activity on the site over the past four years in an attempt to answer the ever-important questions jobseekers ask in these tough economic times: How many and what kind of jobs in our field are being posted, how much do they pay, and how many people are interested in them? It also highlights some disheartening trends that any astute jobseeker, within or outside of library work, has observed over the past 4 years: There is more competition than ever for fewer full-time, permanent positions, and salaries continue to stagnate.

Quick Look

  • Jobs posted since 2007: 1,788
  • Total MyJobline Accounts: 1,639
  • MyJobline users signed up to receive email notification of new posts: 1,114
  • Subscribers to Jobline RSS feed: 636
  • Twitter followers (@LibraryJobline): 124

295_Chart 1Number of Job Postings: Up Slightly from 2009 but Still Low
Total job postings rose 13 percent from 2009 to 2010, from 233 to 264, but they are still nowhere near pre-recession levels (Chart 1). Chart 2 shows a more detailed, monthly view of Library Jobline posts for January 2007 through February 2011. May 2008 was Jobline’s busiest month, with 106 jobs posted. 2010 was rather unsteady from month to month, with anywhere from 13 (in March) to 36 (in February) jobs posted per month. April, June, and October tend to be good months for job posts regardless of the year.

295_Chart 2

Job Views: More Jobseekers and Competition than Ever
The number of individual views of all Library Jobline posts increased dramatically from 2009 to 2010, from 416,030 to 728,024 views (Chart 3). This means an average of 2,757 people viewed each job posted. In contrast, there were 1,786 views per job in 2009 and 809 views per job in 2008.11 So, accompanying the slight increase in jobs posted in 2010 is more interest than ever in those jobs.

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Hot Jobs
The three most popular job postings in 2010—in terms of numbers of views—were in the academic and special library sectors, a departure from the popular school library jobs most viewed in the past few years. The top three Hot Jobs of 2010 were:

  • Library Technician at Colorado Mountain College (3,438 views, full-time, starting salary of $34,490/year, MLIS not required)
  • Librarian at Front Range Community College (3,238 views, full-time, starting salary of $40,000/year, MLIS required)
  • Public Services Coordinator at USIS-Labat (3,147 views, full-time, starting salary of $55,000/yr, MLIS preferred)

Fewer Full-Time, Permanent Positions
Just over half (53%) of jobs posted in 2010 were full-time positions. This number reflects a steady fall in full-time job availability over the past four years. In 2009, 62 percent of Jobline postings were full-time, and in 2007, nearly three-fourths (72%) were full-time. National statistics confirm this trend: Library Journal’s “Placements & Salaries Survey 2010”12 notes that “part-time employment has become a way of life for many LIS graduates, and it has steadily risen from 16.3% in 2007 to 22.8% in 2009.” The study also notes that, nationwide, “permanent, professional placements continue to decline, from 75.8% in 2007 to 61% in 2009, while temporary placements increased once again (from 7.8% in 2008 to 10.6% in 2009) as did nonprofessional jobs (from 13.5% of placements in 2008 to 19.4% in 2009).”

Degree Requirements and Salaries
Of 2010’s Jobline postings, one-third (33%) required an MLIS, about one-tenth (11%) preferred it, and over half (56%) did not require it. For the first time since 2007, the average starting salary for a professional position requiring an MLIS dropped, decreasing from $24.50 per hour in 2009 to $24 per hour in 2010 ($49,920/year). Salaries for jobs either preferring or not requiring an MLIS have both risen since 2009, averaging $20 per hour ($41,600/year), and $16 per hour ($33,280/year), respectively (see Chart 4).

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Beyond Jobline: State and National Salaries from BLS13
According to the national Occupational Employment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average hourly wage for a professional Librarian position in May 2009 (the latest date for published statistics) was $26.76, placing Library Jobline’s 2009 and 2010 wages at the low end of the national spectrum. However, when comparing these figures, it is important to keep in mind that Jobline figures are starting salaries. The BLS national mean hourly wages for Library Assistants-Clerical and Library Technicians were $11.92 and $14.93, respectively, putting Library Jobline’s $16.00 per hour starting wage for a non-MLIS-required position on the high end of the national range. For Colorado specifically, the BLS reports higher average hourly wages than the national average: $29.58 for a Librarian and $15.22 for a Library Technician in 2009.

Statistics from reveal that the total number of Colorado library jobs available appears to be slowly creeping up from recession levels, but the number of full-time, permanent positions available continues to decline, reflecting a national trend over the past few years. Salaries for all types of jobs on the site have grown little over the past four years, and Colorado jobseekers also face more competition for local library jobs than ever before, based on the ratio of jobs posted to job views.

The Future of the Book, Part 2: Beyond the Bathtub, Personal Preference Among Many Factors Influencing Format Choice

With the emergence of more and more electronic reading devices, many people are discussing what this new reading method means for print formats. The Library Research Service’s (LRS) recent 60-Second Survey: The Future of the Book asked respondents what they thought of electronic and print formats and how those formats might change their reading habits in the future. Many respondents (71%) also left comments, which were analyzed according to 6 themes that emerged addressing various influences on format (see the first in this Fast Facts series, The Future of the Book, Part 1: Cost and Technological Advantages of Paper and Electronic Formats, for more information on the comment analysis).

This Fast Facts takes a closer look at what survey respondents said about the existence of multiple formats, the role content plays in determining format, the emotional and aesthetic aspects of paper books, and the influence of time and generation. Also analyzed are their responses to some of the survey questions, with particular attention paid to how the type of library where respondents work and whether they own an e-reader affected their responses.

Chart 1
60-Second Survey: The Future of the Book
Library Circulation in 10 Years
Percentage of Types of Materials

FF286_Chart 1

Multiple Formats
When asked what they thought about the future of the paper book, almost two-thirds (63%) of survey respondents reported that books would never disappear, and about 1 out of 10 (11%) foresaw their eventual demise after more than 100 years. In the meantime, paper books are left to compete with the growing number of electronic books appearing on the market.

Almost half (46%) of survey comments suggested that multiple formats for reading would coexist successfully in some way, citing electronic books as an alternative to, rather than replacement of, paper. In fact, when asked what they thought libraries would circulate in 10 years, 2 out of 5 respondents (43%) answered an equal number of physical and electronic resources, the most popular response. Nevertheless, the trend toward incorporating more electronic materials is apparent. Forty percent of respondents predicted that libraries would circulate more electronic than physical resources or only electronic materials in 10 years, with less than half as many (16%) anticipating circulation of more physical resources  (see Chart 1).

“Like all communication formats, change is constant and new formats continue to evolve. Different formats work for different audiences and purposes. Paper will continue to work best for some types of reading and some audiences, although eventually some form of e-book will be the predominant format.”

Owning an E-Reader and Multiple Formats
As might be expected, owning an e-reader influenced what survey respondents thought about the future of library circulation.  Although a plurality of respondents from each camp (41% e-reader owners, 44% non-owners) agreed that libraries would circulate about the same amount of physical and electronic materials, the more telling numbers are in the responses to “more electronic” or “more physical” materials.  Respondents who owned e-readers (46%) were more likely than non-owners (38%) to anticipate higher circulation of electronic materials, while double the percentage of non-owners (17%) as owners (8%) predicted higher circulation of physical materials.

Library Type and Multiple Formats
The type of library where respondents work also affected their views on future library circulation. Public and school library staff gave similar responses to the types of materials libraries would circulate in 10 years, with half anticipating an equal number of electronic and physical materials. In contrast, only a third of academic librarians expected to circulate an even number of each format.

Instead, the majority of academic librarians (55%), more than any other type, predicted more electronic materials, while just under a third (30%) of public and school librarians said the same. Special librarians’ predictions were split more equally, with nearly half (46%) expecting to circulate the same amount and slightly fewer (44%) anticipating more electronic materials (see Chart 2).

Chart 2
60-Second Survey: The Future of the Book
Percentage of Library Materials Circulated in 10 Years
Predicted by Different Types of Librarians

FF286_Chart 2

Content is King
A number of respondents emphasized that the information itself is more important than how it is packaged; nevertheless, the nature of that information can influence its presentation. Nearly 1 out of 5 (18%) comments indicated that content may be the most influential factor in dictating the preferred format for various genres and types of materials.

“If a book contains something that interests a significant number of people it will be published and ‘read,’ regardless of format, and regardless of whether ‘reading’ actually means reading, viewing, listening, or participating, or all four.”

Two survey questions addressed the topic of content driving format choice. Respondents noted which format they currently used to read fiction, non-fiction, and textbooks and then indicated their anticipated use in 10 years. Only 1 format showed little change: audio use of each type of material was expected to increase less than 1 percent.

In contrast, respondents indicated that their use of electronic formats to read fiction, non-fiction, or textbooks would escalate anywhere from 3 to 6 times the current percentages, while paper use would decrease accordingly. Paper was still the preferred format in the future for fiction and non-fiction, but a closer balance between it and electronic use supports the likelihood that multiple formats will coexist.

Within the predicted changes, the number of respondents who expected to read textbooks electronically jumped significantly, from 1 in 10 now to nearly 6 in 10 (59%) in a decade. Fiction and non-fiction saw substantial, though less dramatic, increases in anticipated use of electronic formats (from 5% to 22% and 11% to 37%, respectively) (see Chart 3).

Chart 3
60-Second Survey: The Future of the Book
Percentage of Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Textbooks
Read Electronically Now and in 10 Years

FF286_Chart 3

Owning an e-reader influenced whether respondents thought they would read fiction, non-fiction, and textbooks electronically in the future, though the discrepancy was least obvious in the latter category. In 10 years twice as many e-reader owners (65%) as non-owners (32%) anticipated reading nonfiction electronically, with nearly the exact opposite being true for paper format (see Chart 4).

Chart 4
60-Second Survey: The Future of the Book
Non-Fiction Format in 10 Years by E-Reader Owners and Non-Owners

FF286_Chart 4

Responses and comments indicated that survey respondents thought news or informational reading was most likely to lead the way in transitioning to electronic text, while pleasure reading would remain in print. One rationale suggested by respondents was that electronic textbooks could offer enhanced searching and reduced costs for students and revised editions would be simpler to produce. When it came to defending fiction in print format, respondents often cited more emotive reasons.

Emotional and Aesthetic Appeal of Paper Books
One out of 4 comments addressed the unique emotional or aesthetic appeal of paper books. Although not asked directly about it in the survey questions, these comments revealed a heartfelt, personal attachment to paper books for a variety of reasons.

“Who wants to read their kid a bedtime story using a Kindle? And what e-reader can simulate the experience of looking at a large hardcover art book with high-quality reproductions? I just don’t see how e-readers supplant the paper book in areas such as this.”

Frequently noted was the comprehensive sensory experience of reading, which includes holding, feeling, and smelling a paper book, and hearing the turning of the pages. Equally common was a reference to the pleasure of “curling up with a good book.” For many respondents, the comfort and familiarity of reading paper enhanced the enjoyment of the activity.

“The times, they are a-changing. The book in some form will always be around. We just may not recognize the form our grandkids or great-grandkids call a ‘book.’”

In addition to the emotional aspect, paper books also boast certain aesthetic qualities that e-readers have yet to mimic satisfactorily. For example, many respondents claimed that the superiority of print illustrations ensured that coffee table, art, and children’s books would remain in print rather than finding success in an electronic format.

Time and Generational Influences
Just over 1 out of 10 (12%) survey comments indicated that the emotional attachment or aesthetic preference could be a generational phenomenon that would fade with time, affecting format prevalence. This almost inevitable “change over time” has occurred before, most obviously in format changes for music and movies, some of which resulted in near complete transitions and others that were shorter lived. While paper books offer more durability to survive the e-reader invasion, some respondents predicted that their use eventually would be restricted to museum displays and collectors’ items.

“Electronic materials will continue to rise in popularity, and will eventually take on some format that we can’t even imagine now. Regarding a time frame, it won’t happen overnight. We’ll have time to prepare and adapt. Relax.”

A few respondents remarked that with constant developments and the unveiling of new devices, it was nearly impossible to predict how e-readers would look and function in a few years. Despite the uncertainty, younger generations are already accustomed to using electronic technology. Most comments predicted that the transition to electronic formats would coincide and accelerate with baby boomers’ retirement and tech-savvy youngsters’ emergence as a driving force in the market and the economy.

The debate over electronic versus print books continues to raise a variety of questions and opinions. Despite some conflicting views, however, a significant percentage of survey respondents agreed that in the future, multiple formats will coexist in some way and libraries will circulate an increasing number of electronic materials. The type of content may prove to be the most influential factor in determining format. Many foresee informational reading transitioning to electronic text and pleasure reading remaining in print, as numerous respondents feel an emotional tie to paper books. Generational differences also could impact format prevalence, but only time will truly tell how and why paper or electronic formats prevail.

The Future of the Book, Part 1: Perceptions of Cost and Technological Advantages of Paper and Electronic Formats

With the advent of e-readers, such as the Kindle, Sony Reader Touch, and the Barnes & Noble Nook, many people are discussing what this new reading method means for print formats. Is it the beginning of the end for paper books? Will paper books and electronic formats exist together? Or are electronic books and reading devices just a fad that will eventually fade?

The Library Research Service’s (LRS) recent 60-Second Survey: The Future of the Book asked respondents what they thought of electronic and print formats and how those formats might change in the future. The survey was advertised on several librarian listservs, the Library Research Service website and blog, and the American Library Association weekly e-newsletter. More than 1,300 respondents participated and 947 of them (71%) also left comments, further explaining their thoughts on the future of the book. The majority of the comments were thoughtful and passionate, revealing a high level of interest in this topic. The comments were analyzed and 6 themes emerged addressing various influences on format: multiple formats will coexist, technological advantages, emotional and aesthetic draw to paper books, content is king, and generational change.

Definition of Comment Categories

  • Multiple formats will coexist: the belief that several formats will be used in the future
  • Technological advantages: advantages based on format of e-books versus paper books
  • Emotional/aesthetic draw to paper books: the relationship and attachment to the physicality of the paper book
  • Content is king: the argument that content will dictate format
  • Cost: the production cost and/or retail price of e-books versus paper books
  • Generational change: a shift will occur over time and with new generations

In this Fast Facts, the comment analysis in general is described, as well as what respondents said about technology and cost, and how those comments relate to other survey question responses. For more about the survey results and an analysis of the other comment categories, see the second in this series of Fast Facts: The Future of the Book, Part 2: Beyond the Bathtub, Personal Preference Among Many Factors Influencing Format Choice.

Comment Analysis  
The comments were tagged for each theme they fell into (many comments discussed more than one theme). The categories of technology and cost were further tagged as pro-paper book, pro-e-book, or neutral, if they did not clearly indicate which format was believed to be superior. Chart 1 shows the number of times a comment was tagged in each category. The 2 most frequently discussed categories were “multiple formats will coexist” (431 comments) and “technological advantages” (340 comments).

As mentioned before, comments that discussed technology and cost were tagged based on the format advocated. These comments are discussed in this Fast Facts due to their “e-books versus paper books” approach to the future of the book discussion.

Chart 1
Future of the Book:
Number of Comments Tagged by Category

FF285_Chart 1

Technological Advantages
More than 1 in 3 comments (36%) discussed the technological advantages of e-books or paper books. The majority of these comments (62%) discussed paper book advantages, while only 26 percent discussed e-book advantages, and the final 10 percent were neutral (generally mentioning advantages of both formats). Comments that discussed the technological advantages of paper books frequently pointed out that paper books are a durable format, they can be used without electricity or batteries, and that paper books are easier on the eyes. Comments that discussed e-books mentioned the convenience, portability, and various enhancements of e-books.

“Books are a cheap, simple, durable, transferable, and persistent technology. Most e-books I have seen so far meet none of these criteria.”

Respondents tagged as commenting on technological advantages were compared with responses to 2 survey questions which asked respondents about their predictions for paper books and libraries (“Do you think paper books will eventually disappear?” and “What do you predict libraries will circulate in 10 years?”). The results of these questions from all respondents revealed that almost 2 in 3 respondents (63%) did not believe paper books will ever disappear. Much smaller percentages believed books will disappear in 100 years or more (11%), within 51-100 years (11%), or within the next 50 years (15%). Regarding what respondents predict libraries will circulate 10 years from now, an almost equal percentage of respondents predicted more electronic materials than physical (40%) and an equal number of electronic and physical materials (44%). The remaining 16 percent predicted physical items will continue to predominate in libraries.

“Books will always have a place, but I find with the enhancements made with electronic format… has made me a convert… I foresee vast educational uses for this format – easy access to references and background information, plus it would be helpful for an array of special education reading problems.”

However, among respondents tagged as commenting on technological advantages the response to these questions was slightly different. Three out of 4 respondents (75%) that discussed the advantages of paper books think the paper book will never disappear (see Chart 2). Just over half of the respondents that discussed e-book advantages (55%) agree that paper books will never disappear. However, 1 in 4 of those that discussed e-book advantages (25%) predict the book will disappear within the next 50 years.

Chart 2
Future of the Book:
Respondents Comments on Technological Advantages Compared to
If Paper Books Will Ever Disappear 

FF285_Chart 2

Almost 1 in 2 of those that commented on the paper books’ advantages (48%), did however, predict that libraries would circulate an equal amount of paper and electronic materials 10 years from now (see Chart 3). Although these respondents believe the paper book is currently superior, they do anticipate libraries will greatly increase their electronic collections. On the other hand, the majority of those that commented on e-books’ advantages (53%) predict electronic materials to surpass physical materials in the next 10 years.

“It is sad, but I think it is going to change greatly in the next 20 years. I think eventually the printed book will disappear. Cost, convenience and new generations will all make the move to electronic happen.”

Chart 3
Future of the Book:
Respondents Comments on Technological Advantages Compared to Prediction of Formats Libraries Will Circulate in 10 Years

FF285_Chart 3

In addition to technology, several comments (116) discussed the cost of paper and electronic formats. As with technology, there were comments on both sides of the argument. Sixty-four percent of these comments indicated that paper books were the less expensive format, while 25 percent said this was true of e-books, and 11 percent mentioned cost, but did not indicate which format was most cost effective.

“The cost of the machines [e-readers] is prohibitive…Libraries can become too heavily invested in electronics and the cost of having to replace all the outdated technology that keeps being replaced by newer technology. There is not enough money for libraries to supply everything to everybody.”

Again, the responses to the survey questions “Do you think paper books will eventually disappear?” and “What do you predict libraries will circulate in 10 years?” were compared with the respondents that were tagged as commenting on cost. The majority of respondents (64%) that commented on the lower cost of paper books also believed that paper books will never disappear (see Chart 4). Forty-eight percent of those that commented on the lower cost of e-books agree that paper books will never disappear, but the second largest group in this category (24%) believe paper books will disappear within the next 50 years. Their thoughts on the cost effectiveness of the e-book may be one reason why. Those that argued that the paper book is less expensive are very similar to the response received from all respondents; though a higher percentage from the overall response believed paper books will disappear within the next 50 years (15%).

Chart 4
Future of the Book:
Respondents Comments on Cost Compared to If Paper Books Will Ever Disappear

FF285_Chart 4


“The book is durable and economically less costly than e-books or audio books. Thus, I feel that their continued survival is pretty much guaranteed.”

Among the respondents that commented on the lower cost of paper books, more than 1 in 2 (53%) still predict that libraries will circulate an equal number of electronic and physical materials in 10 years and 24 percent predict libraries will circulate more electronic materials than physical materials (see Chart 5). Similar to those that discussed the technological advantages of paper books, these respondents still believe the disparity between physical and electronic materials in libraries will decrease regardless of which format they believed more cost effective. Only the remaining 24 percent anticipate more physical than electronic materials. Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents that argued the lower cost of e-books (59%) expect more electronic materials and only 7 percent of this group believe physical materials will still outnumber electronic materials 10 years from now.

Chart 5
Future of the Book:
Respondents Comments on Cost Compared to Prediction of Formats Libraries Will Circulate in 10 Years

FF285_Chart 5

The future of the book is certainly an issue respondents felt strongly about. The comments revealed the important issues of technological advantages and cost of both formats. Although many respondents believe paper books to be superior in technology and cost, the majority still predict a shift in the formats libraries will circulate. With 44 percent of all survey respondents expecting an equal number of physical and electronic materials in libraries, it is no surprise that the most frequently cited theme in the comments was that multiple formats will exist in the future. In the second in this series of Fast Facts, this comment category will be analyzed, as well as the emotional/aesthetic draw to paper books, content is king, and generational change. Interesting differences in how respondents answered survey questions based on the type of library they work in and if they own an e-reader are also examined.

More Job Seekers, Fewer Jobs: Findings from Library Jobline, Year Three

For the last 3 years, Library Research Service, a unit of the Colorado State Library, has provided a venue for libraries and library staff to meet in the job search. is a database-supported website where job seekers can create personal accounts and libraries from throughout the state and nation can post job listings. This free service, available online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, offers job seekers interactive tools to specify what they are looking for in a position and allows them to receive notifications when a related description is posted. Comparisons among the postings over the 3-year period reflect aspects of the current economic climate as well as reveal trends in the library field.

Quick Look at
Since 2007:

  • 1,500 positions posted
  • More than 1,500 people have signed up for MyJobline accounts
  • 2 out of 3 registered users receive email notifications of new job posts
  • More than 1 out of 3 registered users subscribe to Jobline’s RSS feed

Number of Job Postings
As librarians are well aware, their profession has not been immune to the negative effects of the economic recession. This is evident simply from the decline in the number of job postings on Library Jobline. Only 233 jobs were posted during 2009—56 percent of the total posted in 2008 (418) and less than half (45%) of the 2007 total (523).

The sharp decline started in September 2008 and continued through most of the following year. By the last 3 months of 2009, however, the number of job posts matched those of the same period in 2008. Though still considerably fewer than the number of jobs posted in 2007, this may indicate the first signs of recovery (see Chart 1).

Chart 1
Library Jobline:
Number of Job Posts by Month
January 2007-December 2009
284_Chart 1

While the number of job postings decreased, the number of job post views increased by 23 percent (from 338,347 in 2008 to 416,253 in 2009).  Not only are fewer jobs available, but those looking for work face more competition.

In an increasingly competitive job market, job seekers and employers search for a variety of ways to distinguish the top candidates from the larger pool of applicants. Advanced education traditionally has been a way to do that. Surprisingly, the percentage of job postings requiring an MLS degree has decreased slightly in the last 3 years (from 35% in 2007 to 31% in 2009).  However, a notable increase in the proportion of postings preferring an MLS degree, from 12 percent in 2007 to 18 percent in 2009, suggests that the further education is still an advantage for job seekers (see Chart 2).

Chart 2
Library Jobline
Percentage of Job Postings Requiring ALA-MLS
2007, 2008, 2009
284_Chart 2

Reasons for the changes in degree preferences and requirements are unclear. Even so, it is obvious that the increase in the percentage of job posts preferring the degree is connected to the decrease in percentage of job posts that require and do not require the degree. The changes could simply be due to the level and types of jobs posted, which can vary from year to year (i.e. more shelving versus administrative positions, or an increase in positions that combine professional and non-professional duties).

Another noticeable shift has occurred in the ratio of full-time (40 hours per week) to part-time (less than 40 hours per week) job posts. Over the last three years, the percentage of full-time job posts has steadily decreased, dropping from 72 percent in 2007 to 62 percent in 2009. The same trend seems to be occurring nationwide, according to Library Journal’s14 latest report on the employment rates and salaries of recent MLIS graduates. In 2007, nearly 9 out of 10 (89%) MLIS graduates reported finding full-time jobs, but only 7 of 10 had similar luck in 2008.

Posts by Library Type
Overall, the proportion of job postings by library type stayed about the same as in previous years, with the majority of posts (58%) being for jobs in public libraries. Fewer than 1 out of 5 postings were for academic (19%) and special (17%) libraries, and just 1 of 10 were for schools (9%). Perhaps due in part to other avenues for advertising available positions, especially in school libraries, these proportions may not be an accurate reflection of the actual number of job openings (see Chart 3).

Although school library postings account for a small percentage of the positions posted on Jobline, they tend to garner considerable interest. The “Hot Job” of 2009 was for a teacher librarian with Denver Public Schools. This post was viewed more than 5,000 times. The next most popular post, for a management position with the Rangeview Library District, received 28 percent fewer views, with 3,663.

Chart 3
Library Jobline
Percentage of Total Job Postings by Library Type
284_Chart 3

For those lucky enough to find a job, salary is an obvious concern. Unfortunately, it appears that salary was not immune to the cutbacks visible in other areas. Although the average starting hourly wage of job postings15 saw a significant increase from 2007 to 2008 (4.3%), it declined by 2.4 percent during 2009.

Average Starting Hourly Salary of Jobline Postings
2007 – $17.68
2008 – $18.44
2009 – $18.00

Average Hourly Salaries
For Library Staff
Bureau of Labor Statistics

May 2007 – $19.69
May 2008 – $20.40

May 2007- $20.73
May 2008 – $21.39

Compared to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ librarian and library technician salary estimates16 for the nation and for Colorado, the salaries listed for Library Jobline posts are on the low end. This could be due to an uneven distribution of postings according to their level and salaries (i.e. more page positions than administration), skewing the average lower. Another factor may be that the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses actual current wages, rather than starting salaries, in its calculations.  Nevertheless, Library Jobline postings showed a higher percentage increase in average salary from 2007-2008 (4.3%) than did the nation (3.6%) or the state of Colorado as a whole (3.2%).

284_Image 1Salary and MLS Degree
While average salaries overall declined in 2009, the job postings requiring an MLS—though slightly fewer than in previous years—were offering higher average starting wages.  Positions with fewer educational requirements dropped below the average salary from 2 years before.

Most drastic was the drop in salary for job postings preferring an MLS. The decrease of 13.5 percent brought the average down by $2.70 from 2008 to 2009, settling at a significantly lower amount, even, than in 2007.  It seems that although more job postings preferred candidates with an MLS degree, they weren’t necessarily offering monetary compensation for it (see Chart 4).

Chart 4
Library Jobline
Average Hourly Salary17 by MLS Degree Requirement
2007, 2008, 2009
284_Chart 4

Without a doubt, the most significant change in Library Jobline’s third year was the drastically lower number of jobs posted—little more than half the number posted in 2008. At the same time, the number of job post views has increased considerably (23%). More people are looking for jobs, but there are fewer job openings, and salaries for those jobs available have decreased. The final months of 2009 saw the number of job posts return to late 2008 levels, showing the slightest signs of the beginnings of a recovery. Even so, Library Jobline stats show the library field still has a long way to go in climbing out of the economic slump.

Use of Statewide Databases Skyrockets in 2009: Library Patrons Benefit from Additional Databases & Training

Use of electronic databases in Colorado libraries increased significantly during the last fiscal year, according to new data from the Acquisition of Information Resources Statewide (AIRS) Committee. Thanks to a significant investment in training for librarians and additions to the statewide database package, database use more than doubled between Fiscal Year 2007-08 (FY08) and Fiscal Year 2008-09 (FY09).

For each fiscal year, the AIRS Committee—a group of representatives from the Colorado State Library, the Colorado Library Consortium (CLiC), the Bibliographic Center for Research (BCR), Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries, and individuals from public, academic, school, and special libraries—negotiates the database package from EBSCO and OCLC at a special statewide rate. The package includes databases covering general, business, and K-12 information (see sidebar).

During FY08, 695 libraries subscribed to the AIRS database package, compared to 715 in FY09. In spite of only a modest increase (3%) in the number of participating libraries and comparing only the databases common to both years, the number of sessions increased by 56 percent for all libraries from FY08 to FY09. For some types of libraries the increase was even greater, with special (120%) and public (113%) libraries showing the largest growth (see Table 1).

Databases in the AIRS Package Fiscal Year 2008
– Academic Search Premier
– Agricola
– Biomedical Reference Collection: Basic Edition
– Business Source Premier
– Corporate ResourceNet
– EBSCO Animals
– Fuente Academica
– Health Source: Consumer Edition
– Image Collection
– MAS Ultra – School Edition
– MedicLatina
– MiddleSearch Plus
– Newspaper Source
– Nursing and Allied Health Collection: Basic Edition
– Primary Search
– Professional Development Collection
– Regional Business News
– TopicSearch
– WorldCat

Training Pays Off
These increases can be attributed largely to the training sessions, which were comprehensive and used different approaches for different types of libraries, according to Lisa Priebe, Assistant Director at CLiC, which helped coordinate trainings throughout the state. “Without a trained staff, you can’t train your patrons,” Priebe said.

Table 1
AIRS Database Package Use, 2008 and 2009
Comparing Databases Common to Both FY08 & FY09

282_Table 1Note: A session is defined as a login by the user to one or more databases from a vendor to find information on one or more topics.

During FY09, the AIRS committee focused on training librarians, in-person and online, on how to use databases in the package. Representatives from EBSCO and CLiC conducted 25 webinars and 37 live training sessions for librarians throughout the state. In addition, BCR taught 3 classes on OCLC FirstSearch and EBSCO conducted 4 “Train the Trainer” sessions, which gave attendees the skills to teach their coworkers and patrons about package databases. Between September 2008 and May 2009, 938 Colorado librarians (excluding those who viewed archived webinars) received database training. “The investment in training for library staff throughout Colorado’s libraries had a planned effect. Becoming more informed about the databases meant that staff members promoted them directly to their communities in various settings, both within the library as well as through outreach efforts,” said Jim Duncan, Director of Networking and Resource Sharing.

More Databases, More Use
Investing in training is only half the story. As the database package grew, so did the number of sessions in all types of libraries.

A 2007 survey of library staff identified the topics most frequently requested by patrons, educators, and students. Nine databases related to these popular topics were added for FY09. When the use of these databases is included in the comparison to FY08, the increases in use are even more dramatic. Statewide, the use of AIRS databases increased by 139 percent from FY08 to FY09. Public libraries saw the largest increases with the number of database sessions increasing by more than 800 percent in FY09. Use in special, community college, and K-12 libraries increased significantly as well—more than doubling in a year (see Table 2).

Once again the increased usage was no accident, but instead the result of AIRS Committee initiatives. “The addition of educational and research content, geared to kids for study and homework, addressed the findings of an earlier needs assessment in which libraries reported and stressed their desire to deliver quality K-12 content,” explained Duncan, adding, “The demand was already there and primed to consume all of that database content.”

Databases Added to the AIRS Package
Fiscal Year 2009
– Auto Repair Center
– Consumer Health Complete
– History Reference Center
– Literary Reference Center
– MasterFILE Premier
– NoveList
– NoveList K-8
– Points of View Reference Center
– Science Reference Center
Note: the Image Collection database was removed in 2009.

Table 2
AIRS Database Package Use, 2008 and 2009
Comparing FY08 to FY09, Including Additional Databases in FY09

282_Table 2Looking Forward
282_Image 1In 2009-10 (FY10), $1 million was eliminated by the state from the budget line that had been appropriated in 2008 to subsidize the AIRS database package costs. This resulted in a substantial shortfall in funding and some databases were cut. The AIRS Committee negotiated with EBSCO and OCLC to create an affordable, smaller package, in which the number of EBSCO databases was reduced to the resources most frequently used in all types of libraries. The package now contains 12 databases, and 719 libraries are subscribed as of this writing.

With fewer databases available to patrons, where will patrons turn for information? Some believe the Internet has all the answers—for free. However, as Duncan points out, “Individuals and small businesses that understand and value the role of libraries in providing access to high-quality educational content recognize that libraries offer them a competitive advantage. Unlike so-called ‘free’ Internet resources, these databases are available to library users as an integrated mix, drawing together consultation by professional librarians, training in how to search, customized service, and high-value content.”

State’s Collaborative Climate Fosters Interlibrary Loan in Colorado

Interlibrary loan (ILL) is a popular research support service in Colorado libraries. ILL borrowing has increased substantially among public and academic libraries in the state since 2004. Although the increase has been steady for these libraries, items borrowed via ILL still make up a fairly small percentage of circulation overall.

Interlibrary Loan Code
According to the American Library Association’s Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States, “interlibrary loan is based on a tradition of sharing resources between various types and sizes of libraries and rests on the belief that no library, no matter how large or well supported, is self-sufficient in today’s world.”

Academic and Public Libraries
ILL traffic has increased considerably among Colorado’s academic libraries between 2004 and 2008. During that time, the number of items borrowed via ILL has increased 68 percent (see Chart 1). Like academic libraries, the number of items borrowed via ILL has increased significantly in the state’s public libraries—69 percent between 2004 and 2008.

281_Chart 1

How does ILL affect circulation overall?
Clearly, borrowing through ILL among both library types is increasing, but is that increase impacting circulation? For public libraries, items borrowed through ILL make up a relatively small percentage of total circulation – just under 1 percent (see Table 1). In academic libraries the percentage is higher, increasing from 5.5 percent in 2004 to almost 11 percent in 2008.

281_Table 1

Circulation is changing differently among the two library types as well.  In public libraries circulation has increased 24 percent, while in academic libraries it has decreased 14 percent. Although borrowed ILL items constitute a higher percentage of circulation in academic libraries, this is due, in part, to the fact that circulation overall has declined over the past five years. The increased use of ILL combined with the decrease in circulation in academic libraries could also represent a difference in how public library patrons and academic library patrons use their libraries.

Though ILL borrowing is a relatively small percentage of circulation, ILL is still an important service providing patrons with otherwise unavailable resources. Prospector, the unified catalog of 25 academic and public libraries in Colorado and Wyoming, is one way Coloradan’s are receiving these resources. Rose Nelson, Systems Librarian for the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries, said 65 percent of Prospector libraries’ holdings are unique items. By collaborating with other libraries through programs like Prospector, Colorado’s library patrons have access to those unique, otherwise unavailable, items.

School Libraries
In addition to public and academic libraries, borrowed items increased, though not as dramatically, among a school library cohort of about 320 libraries. This cohort of 320 libraries are libraries that consistently submitted the Colorado School Library Survey in 2004, 2006, and 2008. Items borrowed per week through ILL  increased 11 percent for these school libraries between 2004 and 2008. All of Colorado’s school libraries are not discussed here because not all school libraries participate in the annual survey.

Collaborative Programs Contribute to Success in Colorado
Increasingly, patrons of Colorado’s academic and public libraries are borrowing items through ILL. Colorado libraries have multiple factors that are undoubtedly contributing to this increase:

  • SWIFT – the free ILL system for academic, public, school, and special libraries in Colorado, operated by the Network and Resource Sharing unit of the Colorado State Library with over 400 participating libraries
  • Prospector – the unified catalog of 25 public and academic libraries in Colorado and Wyoming, operated by the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries
  • Colorado Statewide Courier – the delivery system between Colorado’s libraries, operated by the Colorado Library Consortium (CLiC)

The unique combination of these services creates a climate that greatly supports ILL use in Colorado. Although generally a small percentage of circulation, ILL service is an important service that enables libraries to meet their patrons’ unique information needs.

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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.

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