Colorado Library Districts Show Greater Increases in Use & Financial Support than Other Public Library Types

In 2002, the finances of the state’s public libraries were negatively affected by state and local budget cuts. A 2003 Fast Facts from LRS showed that library districts weathered these fiscal cuts better than non-district public libraries. The average local revenue of libraries which were not part of a library district decreased from the previous year. On the other hand, public libraries which were part of a library district actually saw an increase in their average per capita funding.

There have been four years of data collection between the dramatic fiscal changes of 2002 and today. How have library districts fared between 2002 and 2006? Have they continued to show strong financial stability? How do they compare to their non-district counterparts?

260_Chart 1

An examination of the change in percentage of average local operating income per capita between 2002 and 2006 reveals that both library districts and non-district libraries have increased their local income (see Chart 1). However, the percentage change for library districts is double that of non-district libraries. This is not too surprising given the stable, dedicated funding library districts tend to enjoy.

So, do these libraries with increased inputs—in the form of funding—also have increased outputs? In other words, if library districts have increased their funding more than non-district libraries, have they also increased the utilization of their resources and materials more than the other library types?

An examination of library visits per capita, circulation per capita, and program attendance per 1,000 served was performed for 2002 and 2006 to determine if patron usage had changed during this time (see Chart 2).

260_Chart 2

Between library districts and non-district libraries, the most dramatic difference in percent change comparisons was for program attendance. Library districts had an increase of 43 percent in average program attendance per 1,000 served between 2002 and 2006, while non-districts had only a 9 percent change.

Both library district and non-districts saw growth in the average number of library visits per capita in 2006 compared to 2002. Library districts had a 31 percent increase in visits compared to 19 percent for non-district libraries.

Although the percent change in average circulation was not as dramatic as library visits, both library types witnessed an increase in their circulation per capita. The percentage change between 2002 and 2006 for circulation in library districts was nearly 4 times higher than that of non-district libraries (14% vs 4%).

Library districts and non-district libraries have been able to rebound from the 2002 budget cuts with financial and community strength. Both library types have seen increases in their local funding and in their outcome measures. However, library districts have seen a greater increase in their funding which may be attributed to their autonomous nature. This stable funding has allowed library districts to increase their outputs as well. Library districts are not only more supported financially than their non-district peers, the populations they serve are entering their doors more often and utilizing their services more frequently.


Colorado Public Libraries Help Children Get Ready to Read

258_Image 1Inspired by concerns about young children’s school readiness, the Colorado State Library (CSL), has provided early literacy (pre-reading) program-development support to public libraries statewide since 2004. This support has included staff skills-training workshops, (based on the PLA/ALSC program Every Child Ready to Read @ your library® [ECRR]),1 grant funds, research reports, coalition building, and use of an e-list that helps practitioners share best practices and seek guidance from one another.2

Bolstered by these endeavors, numerous library jurisdictions around the state, both large and small, have expanded the depth and scope of their programming for children from birth to age 6. Such programming includes ECRR-based literacy enhanced storytimes (for children and their adult caregivers)3 and adult-only ECRR workshops that provide early literacy research data and hands-on skill-building activities adults can use with children. One goal of both programming types is to help adult caregivers understand the roles they can play in the development of children’s reading readiness.

Six Pre-Reading Skills
During ECRR-based storytime programs and adult workshops, library personnel model activities that help children develop these skills:

  • Print motivation
  • Vocabulary
  • Print awareness
  • Letter knowledge
  • Phonological awareness
  • Narrative skills

Among the outgrowths of CSL’s initiative thus far, a task force called Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL) came to fruition in January 2008; it now serves as an advisory group to CSL. Comprised of self-selected active early literacy providers from public libraries across the state, CLEL aims to strengthen children’s literacy through a combination of library services and community advocacy. The CLEL Steering Committee currently includes children’s services, training, and outreach staff from 13 different Colorado library jurisdictions.

This report provides baseline early literacy programming data from these 13 library jurisdictions. The data was collected by CSL from February through May of 2008 from people who provide early literacy services on behalf of these libraries. The numbers represent best estimates based on current and previous years’ activities as reported by those library personnel. The data itself is divided into two different tables based on programming location—in-house or off-premises (outreach).

258_Table 1

Baseline Findings
ECRR-based literacy-enhanced programming is offered in communities of varying sizes around the state. Using 2007 figures, the 13 public library jurisdictions surveyed for this report range from “medium-small,” Alamosa/Southern Peaks Public Library (8,490), to the state’s largest, Denver Public Library (580,223). For 11 of these 13 library jurisdictions, in-house literacy-enhanced storytimes are the most prevalent of these types of programs.

In-House Programming
Table 1 looks at the numbers of programs and attendance figures per year for activities held on the library premises. It should be noted that some libraries host programs for community partners such as child-care groups or clients of social service agencies inside their libraries as well as off-premises.

For this report, literacy-enhanced storytimes are defined as having these 5 components:

  • Literacy theme for the storytime, using at least 1 of the 6 pre-reading skills.
  • Parents and/or caregivers invited to attend.
  • Storytime leader models and communicates about early literacy skills.
  • Selection of appropriate books/activities to promote use of a skill.
  • Sharing of skill-oriented information by leader either verbally or with handout material.

258_Image 2

In-House Literacy-Enhanced Storytime Programs: Nearly all of the libraries, 12 of the 13 jurisdictions, offer this type of programming. Session numbers per year range from 156 at Basalt Regional Library District to 3,536 at Douglas County Libraries. Child visits range from 832 (Basalt) to 73,840 (Douglas) per year. Adult visits per year range from 572 (Basalt) to 44,200 (Douglas).

In-House Adult-Only ECRR Workshops: Just under a third of the 13 libraries offer these workshops for a general parent/caregiver audience. Where offered, the frequency of these programs ranges from 4 (Arapahoe Library District) to 14 (Mesa County Public Library District) times per year. Estimated adult visits per year range from 40 (Arapahoe) to 280 (Mesa). Mesa provides their 14 workshops as part of a community partnership that serves teen moms.

Beyond the programming statistics shown in this table, several libraries provide special in-house adult ECRR workshops for specific constituencies including library volunteers and members of community groups not necessarily representative of a parent/caregiver audience (e.g. students seeking academic credit). While such programs serve to benefit children and adults in these communities, statistics for these specialized-audience in-house adult ECRR workshops are not covered here.

Off-Premises Programming
Table 2 looks at programs and attendance figures per year for activities provided by libraries at off-site venues (outreach). In some cases, these numbers represent outreach programming led by closely supervised library-trained volunteers. Off-premises programs frequently reach adults and children who might not otherwise avail themselves of public library services. Often, these are geared toward specific groups at specific locales such as a prison or a child-care facility.

“Very, very useful. Clarifies what we, as parents, should emphasize to increase our children’s love of books.” – Adult ECRR workshop participant, Arapahoe Library District
258_Table 2

Off-Premises (Outreach) Literacy-Enhanced Storytime Programs: Nine of the 13 jurisdictions offer this programming. Where available, annual session numbers range from 12 (Arapahoe Library District) to 3,390 (Denver Public Library). Child visits range from 240 (Arapahoe) to 57,630 (Denver) per year. Adult visits per year range from 48 (Arapahoe) to 6,780 (Denver). Frequently, off-premises storytime programs are held in child-care environments where the ratio of children to adults tends to be higher than comparable statistics for in-house programming.

Off-Premises Adult-Only ECRR-based Workshops: Seven of the 13 jurisdictions offer these workshops for a general parent/caregiver audience. Where available, the frequency of program offerings ranges from 1 (Douglas County Libraries) to 22 (Jefferson County Public Library) per year. Estimated adult visits per year range from 50 (Pikes Peak Library District) to 354 (Denver Public Library).

“My son notices letters in the environment all the time now and points out the letters in the words he sees.” – Storytime-attending parent, Douglas County Libraries

Conclusion258_Image 3
The Colorado State Library collected these statistics to provide baseline knowledge about public library-based in-house and off-premises programming—both for children and for their adult caregivers—focused on children’s reading readiness. The data from these 13 library jurisdictions who have staff members serving on the CLEL Steering Committee provides us with a useful overview for understanding several common types of early literacy programming currently underway—as well as the frequency of and attendance at those activities.

In Colorado, such early literacy program offerings are not limited to these 13 libraries; other public libraries around the state enthusiastically provide these kinds of programs, too. Future collection of statistics will enable CSL and CLEL to better understand the availability and impact of early literacy activities. Through training, advocacy, and ongoing support, Colorado’s libraries are working collaboratively to foster and promote early literacy to benefit residents in all areas of the state. – The First Year

In January 2008 the Colorado State Library Jobline celebrated its first anniversary at its new home, The new Library Jobline, unlike the original website, is database driven and gathers detailed information about job postings. This new interface allows both employers and job seekers to customize their use of the site. In addition, it allows for the compilation of data about job vacancies, including number of postings, library type, educational requirements, and reason for the position vacancy. This report examines some of this data based on the 552 jobs posted to Library Jobline in 2007.

Features of

  • Customizable email & RSS notification of new jobs
  • Searchable job postings (current and archives)
  • Map of job locations
  • Hot Jobs – list of the most viewed posts

Jobs by Type of Library
Of all library types, public libraries posted the most job openings on Library Jobline with nearly 2 out of 3 listings (61%). This is not particularly surprising, given that public libraries employ more staff than any other library type.4 Academic libraries were a distant second with fewer than 1 in 5 of the jobs posted (17%), followed by special (9%), school (8%), and institutional (5%) libraries. Seven postings indicated more than one library type (see Chart 1).

257_Chart 1

Postings from school libraries comprised a smaller percentage (8%) on Jobline than public, academic, or special libraries, in spite of being the second largest employer of library staff. This relatively low proportion can be attributed to school library postings being more likely to include multiple positions in one listing and school districts’ tendency to post job vacancies internally or on school job websites (e.g., Nevertheless, school library positions are some of the most searched on the Jobline. As of this writing, the most viewed job post in 2008 was for a Teacher-Librarian position at Denver Public Schools.5

Jobs by MLS Degree Requirements
A master’s degree was required at varying levels among different library types. Public, school, and special libraries required an ALA-accredited MLS degree for about one-third of the jobs they posted. Academic libraries required the degree most frequently, with nearly half of positions posted indicating the degree was required. However, special and public libraries were much more likely to prefer an MLS degree than were academic libraries. For all 3 of these library types, more than half of the jobs posted either required or preferred a master’s degree (see Chart 2).

When listing jobs, school libraries were given the option of “MLS required,” but not the option of “preferred education” because of the unique educational and licensing requirements for endorsed “school librarian” and “teacher-librarian” positions. These positions require a Colorado Department of Education school library endorsement, which includes a teacher license as well as a library science education.6

257_Chart 2

Reason for Vacancies
Employers posting to Library Jobline were asked the reason for the job vacancy. Of those who responded to this query, nearly half said the opening was created by a resignation (46%). Far fewer indicated they were trying to fill openings created by promotions (17%) or due to retirements (12%). A surprising and heartening 1 in 4 jobs listed were new positions (25%). Such a high rate of new openings suggests a continued demand for librarians in the Internet age (see Chart 3).

257_Chart 3

New Jobs and Spanish-Language Skills
Spanish-language skills were important in new positions posted on Library Jobline. A third of new jobs indicated a preference for such abilities (33%). This contrasts with a preference for Spanish skills in 1 out of 5 vacancies for existing jobs (20%). Given the changing demographics of Colorado, this increased demand to serve the Spanish-speaking public makes sense. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey indicates that the number of Spanish-speaking Coloradans age 5 and older jumped from 363,723 in 2000 to 545,112 in 2006, an increase of 50 percent.7

Library Workforce Trends
The first year of the new Colorado State Library Jobline gives us a brief glimpse into the types of jobs being posted for library staff. Notably, there continue to be new jobs created in the field, a master’s degree still seems to be relevant, and the desire for Spanish-speaking employees appears to be desirable in new positions. The real power of the new Jobline site, though, lies a few years down the road. As we harvest more information over time we will be able to follow trends in the job market and view a more complete picture of how the library workforce landscape is changing.

For more information on posting a job or viewing current job openings, see

Colorado Public Libraries Respond Positively to Changing Information Needs

Libraries have responded effectively to many changes over the years. Recently, changes related to new technologies and media have come to the forefront. As library users seek access to a greater variety of materials, as well as to computers and the Internet, the question arises as to whether these needs begin to supersede traditional library services like reference, circulation, and 256_Image 1programming.

However, data from a recent National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report suggests a more optimistic fate for Colorado libraries, one in which new technologies and traditional library services co-exist and thrive. In fact, the report suggests a positive relationship between new media and technology and library use in general.

Released in November 2007, the 2005 NCES Public Libraries in the United States survey report shows that Colorado libraries have positively responded to changing information needs.8 For example, public libraries in Colorado collected audio-visual materials at a rate significantly higher than the national average; in 2005 they held 21 percent more audio materials per 1,000 people served, and 36 percent more video materials per 1,000 than the average U.S. library (see Chart 1).

256_Chart 1

Colorado public libraries have also increased their commitment to alternative media without significantly sacrificing their obligation to print materials. Current print serial subscriptions in Colorado were 4 percent higher than the national average, while other print materials were lower by 9 percent.

Similarly, in 2005 public libraries in Colorado also recognized the value of the Internet as a resource for public use. They provided 4 percent more Internet terminals per library than the national average. There is still room for growth, however. Colorado’s average is above the national average for number of Internet terminals per library, but the state ranks just 20th among the states on this statistic.

Possibly because of this significant investment in technology and media, Colorado libraries have also maintained a very high level of traditional services. In 2005, the state was within the top 10 states for library visits, reference transactions, and circulation numbers per capita (see Chart 2). It was the state with the 6th highest number of circulation transactions, providing 53 percent more transactions per capita than the national average. The average number of library visits per capita in Colorado was 30 percent higher than the national average, while the average number of reference transactions per capita was 19 percent higher than the national average.

256_Chart 2

Similarly, the average rate of attendance at children’s programs per library in Colorado greatly exceeded the national average rate of attendance. Colorado’s public libraries attracted an average of 4,929 attendees, or 49 percent, more attendees to their children’s programs than the average public library in the nation (at 3,301 attendees). Circulation of children’s materials in Colorado public libraries was also slightly higher than the national average at 36 percent of total circulation (versus 35%). While some may argue that investment in alternative media and Internet terminals indicates a shift in focus from children’s services to adult needs, these numbers support the idea that service to Colorado’s children has remained strong.

If the 2005 NCES Public Libraries survey report is any indication, Colorado public libraries are responsive to the changing needs of their patrons. They have been able to meet new desires for technology and media while excelling at the provision of traditional library services, including those to children. As Douglas County Library Director James LaRue stated in a recent Libnet listserv discussion regarding changing technology and the relevance of libraries in our communities, “We know, for a fact…that our investment in public Internet access increases, not decreases public visits to the library. We also know that reference use (provided by reference librarians) increases.” LaRue added, “In any library that reaches out to its community, the story is of greater and greater demand, not less.”9

Library Services & the Internet
For more information about the relationship between the Internet and other library services see: Access to Internet Goes Hand in Hand with Other Public Library Services and May Attract Library Visitors (Fast Facts No. 240, June 16, 2006).

Compared to national averages, Colorado libraries are more effective at reaching out to their communities, as is reflected in the number of library visits, reference transactions, and circulating materials. The adoption of new media and technology does not necessarily mean a decrease in the use of public libraries’ traditional or familiar services. In fact, this shift appears to have inspired increased use, a fact that holds much promise during these days of steady change.

Challenged Materials in Colorado Public Libraries, 2006

According to the American Library Association, a challenge is “an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group . . . thereby restricting the access of others.”10 The Library Research Service annually collects data on challenged materials as part of the Colorado Public Library Annual Report.

In 2006, out of the 115 public libraries in Colorado, 23 reported that they received a formal challenge during the year. There were a total of 89 individual challenges to books, materials, events, exhibits, and Internet-related services in the state’s public libraries. Challenges to Internet content or access policies are reported separately from materials and event challenges. There were 63 challenges to materials and events. This was the lowest number of challenges to materials and events since 2003 (see Chart 1).

254 Chart 1

In 2006, 6 Colorado public libraries reported challenges to Internet content or access policies. A total of 26 individual challenges were reported. This is nearly 4 times the number of Internet-related challenges reported in 2005.

A follow-up survey was sent to all 23 libraries who reported a formal challenge. This survey requested the title, author, format, reason for the challenge, action taken by the library, and the date of the publication or incident regarding each challenge. Twenty of the 23 libraries responded to the follow-up survey.

The follow-up survey received detailed information for 49 challenges to books, materials, events, and exhibits. Of these challenges 40 (82%) resulted in no change being made by the staff regarding the location, availability, description, or classification of the item (see Chart 2). Seven items (14%) were moved to another part of the library or reclassified. The action was dropped by the individual who filed the challenge in 1 case (or 2%).

254 Chart 2

Of the 26 Internet-related challenges reported in the Public Library Annual Report, the follow-up survey received information for 13 challenges. Six cases resulted in no change, in three cases the action was dropped, and in 2 cases the Internet-related matter was restricted. For the remaining 1 case, the reporting library chose other for the action but did not provide more detailed information.

Following the trend of the previous years, books were the most challenged format in 2006 according to the result of the follow-up survey. Almost half (47%) of all challenges in Colorado public libraries involved books (see Chart 3). Less than one-quarter (22%) involved Internet-related services (i.e. computer) and video materials accounted for less than one-fifth (17%) of the challenges. Challenges involving music CDs, periodicals, activities, and audio books together totaled over one-tenth (12%) of all challenges.

254 Chart 3

254 Chart 4

In 2004, the figures indicated a possible trend in which videos would begin to account for a greater proportion of challenged materials (see Chart 4). However, a more recent examination of the types of materials challenged indicated that computer (i.e. Internet-related) services are increasingly being challenged. The percentage of Internet-related challenges rose dramatically from 3 percent in 2005 to 22 percent in 2006. In spite of these fluctuations, books continue to be the most challenged format.

Audience/Age Group
In the follow-up survey, more than 1 audience/age group type may be chosen for each formal challenge. More than half (51%) of all challenges for 2006 were considered challenges to adult materials (see Chart 5). In 2006, there was only 1 more challenge to children’s materials (20) than to young adult (19) materials.

254 Chart 5

Although challenges to adult materials fell from 63 percent in 2005 to 51 percent in 2006 (see Chart 6), they continue to be challenged more frequently than materials in other age categories. Interestingly the percentage of challenges to children’s or young adult materials fluctuates rather more from year to year. The proportion of challenges to young adult materials grew steadily from a low of 17 percent in 2003 to 30 percent in 2006. Whereas challenges to children’s materials went from 36 percent in 2003 to a record low 15 percent in 2005, and then rose again in 2006 to 30 percent.

254 Chart 6

Reasons for Challenges
Responding libraries are also asked to report the patron’s reason for the challenge. Multiple reasons can be selected. In 2006, the reasons most commonly cited were due to materials being sexually explicit or unsuited for the intended age group (See Table 1). The “other” category includes reasons not listed on the follow-up survey.

254 Table 1

Challenged Titles
The only title to be named multiple times in a formal challenge to non-Internet related materials in 2006 was Justin Richardson’s And Tango Makes Three. This title was mentioned in 2 separate challenges. Richardson’s book was also the most frequently challenged book nationally in 2006 according to the ALA.11

The remaining 61 challenges to books, materials, events, and exhibits were a variety of individual titles.

Go to to view the entire Challenges to Materials at Colorado’s Public Libraries report for 2006.12 The challenge reports for previous years may also be viewed at

AskColorado Customer Satisfaction High as Usage Continues to Increase

AskColorado, the statewide 24/7 free virtual reference service that started in September 2003, is a collaborative project among libraries of all types throughout the state. Through the efforts of over 350 librarians from public, academic, school, and special libraries, the service provides online answers to Coloradans—any age, anywhere, anytime. Since its inception, AskColorado has steadily increased both in number of user sessions and customer satisfaction levels.

According to AskColorado usage statistics, the number of user sessions increased substantially during the first 3 full years of service (see Chart 1). In 2006, AskColorado librarians answered questions during more than 52,000 online reference sessions—almost twice the number of sessions as in 2004 (27,892).

When asked about the growth of the service, Kris Johnson, the AskColorado coordinator, commented, “Usage continues to grow, this is clear. This may be due to more people knowing about the service, or the fact that we now have more librarians available online at any given time to take calls, or both.”

255 Chart 1

Customer Satisfaction
Findings from both the 2005 and 2006 surveys indicate a majority of respondents found the virtual librarian helpful and were satisfied with the answers to their questions (see Chart 2 and Chart 3). In 2006, 3 out of 4 respondents (74%) found the virtual librarian to be helpful, and a similar proportion expressed satisfaction (72%) with the answers they received from the AskColorado librarians. This represents a significant increase from 2005 to 2006 in the customer satisfaction with the service.

The reason for the increased satisfaction is undoubtedly due to a combination of factors. According to Kris Johnson, “We’re getting better about communicating online, we’re becoming better searchers, our patrons are having a more realistic understanding of what our service can provide.” Johnson continues, “Perhaps our patrons are having a more difficult time finding information on their own and turn to us. After all, librarians are known as information experts. Any or all of these reasons could apply.”

255_Chart 2

More About the AskColorado Surveys
To measure AskColorado’s success serving its patrons, an annual customer service and outcome based evaluation survey was created to ask a sample of users for their reaction to the service.  In 2004, following the first year of service, two surveys were administered to users of the service; a pop-up customer satisfaction survey and an outcome survey e-mailed to those who agreed to take this follow up survey. The outcome survey also contained demographic questions. The two surveys were revised and condensed in 2005 to create one pop-up exit survey. Therefore, the data comparisons in this Fast Facts contain only 2005 and 2006 information.
“I am very impressed. As an IT specialist, I understand how difficult it can be to implement a sophisticated system such as this. It worked like a charm. I was quickly connected with a local librarian who helped me research my topic. I had been Googling for hours to no avail, but your librarian found a relevant link in under 5 minutes. Great job!” – AskColorado User

255 Chart 3

“Sometimes I need a quick answer to a question about finding where and in what form I will find a source for research in my history classes.  Your service and your librarians, who often are an encyclopedia in and of themselves, have helped me ‘learn’ how and where to find information while I am completing my project. The library is a complicated place for those of us just learning and technology seems to change constantly.  It is hard sometimes to keep up. Thank you for your help and especially at being there at hours when the main library is closed.” – AskColorado User

Customer Outcomes
In both the 2005 and 2006 survey respondents were asked to indicate the outcome(s) of their visit to AskColorado (see Table 1). The same 5 outcomes top the list each year, with research for homework or a school project having the strongest showing overall (ranking first in 2006 and second in 2005). Similarly, identifying a new source of information rose from 2005 to 2006. Obtaining a specific fact or document was the number 1 outcome in 2005 and fell to third in 2006. Obtaining information for work and learning how the library can help respondents were the fourth and fifth most popular outcomes, respectively, in both years.

255 Chart 4

Respondents were told to choose all outcomes that applied. Therefore respondents could choose more than one answer.

“This is the best site!  I have always found what I needed at this site and the people who helped me were great!!  This site is a life saver thanks again!!!!!” – AskColorado User

Between 2005 and 2006 survey respondents were increasingly using the AskColorado virtual reference service in order to conduct research for homework and school projects, as well as other traditional reference services. The increase in usage of the service, as well as a rise in customer service ratings, indicates that AskColorado is growing in both popularity and customer satisfaction.

“Thank you. You guys so helped me and helped me stay up on my grades thank you I will be coming to this site more often when I need help!!!!” – AskColorado User


CTBL Provides Essential Service to Community

In the fall of 2006, a patron survey was developed and administered to evaluate the current services of Colorado Talking Book Library and to plan for future services.13 Patrons, Colorado residents who are unable to read print materials, in over 43 counties throughout Colorado responded to the survey. The results of this survey overwhelmingly demonstrate that these patrons consider CTBL to be an important and useful service for meeting their informational and recreational reading needs.

Respondents were asked to rate how satisfied they were with a number of different CTBL services, including the overall quality of services. Virtually all respondents rated the overall quality of service as either excellent (85%) or good (15%) (see Chart 1).

About the Colorado Talking Book Library
The Colorado Talking Book Library (CTBL) provides services, at no cost, to Coloradans of all ages who are unable to read standard print material due to visual, physical or learning disabilities. CTBL provides recorded, Braille and large-print books and magazines, as well as a small collection of descriptive videos. CTBL currently has 12,000 active patrons.
CBTL is part of the Colorado State Library, a division of the Colorado Department of Education and is affiliated with the network of Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (NLS).

Chart 1
Respondents’ Rating of CTBL’s Overall Quality of Service 252 Chart 1

Chart 2
Respondent Satisfaction Ratings of CTBL Services252 Chart 2

252 Image 1Almost all respondents (99%) rated the courtesy of library staff as either excellent or good (see Chart 2). Notably, no respondents rated it as poor. All respondents were satisfied at some level (excellent, good, or fair) with the speed and the number of books sent to them. Most respondents were satisfied (excellent or fair) with the ease of contacting CTBL (98%) and with the book titles CTBL staff had chosen for them (85%).

CTBL Service

  • Books may be ordered via mail, e-mail, phone, fax, or online.
  • The library loans the cassette playback machines free of charge to its patrons.
  • Patrons can request specific titles or books can be selected for them based on their reading interests.

Chart 3
CTBL Services Indicated as Valuable by Percentage of Respondents252 Chart 3

Note: Respondents could indicate more than one service as valuable

Respondents were asked in what ways CTBL services have been of value to them (see Chart 3). An overwhelming number of respondents chose reading for pleasure (88%). This is similar to the findings from a national study, indicating “leisure reading is the most widely cited outcome” of public library patrons in general.14 More than one-third of respondents (37%) selected learning about a personal interest followed by help with staying connected to the community (10%).

CTBL Collection Information
The collection includes nearly 70,000 titles of fiction and non-fiction, including 52,000 titles in recorded books, 4,000 titles in Braille, 13,000 titles in large print, and 250 titles in descriptive video.Colorado Collection
Included in CTBL’s collection is the material recorded by volunteers in CTBL’s recording studio. Books in this collection are by Colorado authors, about Colorado history or are of regional interest. Patrons may suggest material to be recorded, however the collection development policy on the CTBL website will apply. This collection supplements the larger collection provided by Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Handicapped (NLS).

Respondents overwhelming indicated they consider the services CTBL provides to be valuable. More than three-fourths rated the overall quality of CTBL services as excellent. The CTBL also received high satisfaction ratings for the ease of contacting staff, as well as general staff courtesy.

252 Image 2

Based on the results of this survey it is clear that CTBL is highly valued by the community it serves for its staff and the services it provides. At the conclusion of the survey, respondents were asked to write any additional comments. Several respondents said that their lives have been greatly enhanced because CTBL has provided them with a variety of formats to access information they might otherwise be unable to read.  One respondent summed it up, “[CTBL] is an absolute lifeline for me and I am grateful it is available.”

Statewide Courier Saves Libraries Thousands in Shipping Costs Each Year

During the months of October 2006 and February 2007, 27 public, academic, school, and special libraries in Colorado collected statistics on the number and format of items sent via the statewide courier service, operated by the Colorado Library Consortium (CLiC). The study was undertaken to determine the cost-effectiveness of the courier service.

Without the presence of a statewide courier, Colorado’s libraries would need to find alternative methods of transferring items between library systems—most likely they would need to ship materials using a standard shipping company, i.e., the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), Federal Express (FedEx), or United Parcel Service (UPS). For the purposes of this study, we collected data for items sent on the courier by the libraries, rather than received, because in using the standard shipping methods mentioned above the sender nearly always incurs the cost (COD being the exception). Statistics were collected during specified weeks in October and February—some libraries participated in data collection during only one of these periods, while others participated during both. Statistics for all libraries were annualized.

251 Image 1Based on the data collected, the courier proved to be extremely cost-effective. During the study period, participating libraries were charged $3,389 for their participation in the courier. Estimates for the cost of sending materials via a shipping company were made using average weights for each type of item (e.g., books, DVDs, audio tapes). For each shipping company, the least expensive option within its services was chosen. The most economical alternative shipping method—USPS—was more than 3.5 times more expensive than the courier, at $12,098. Shipping the same materials via Federal Express or UPS would cost even more, with both of those services topping $20,000 (see Chart 1).

251 Chart 1

Additionally, courier service is more convenient than standard shipping methods, and undoubtedly saves staff time and packaging costs. When using the courier, library staff place all courier-delivered items in a bin with a label directing courier staff how to route the item. For any of the alternative methods, items need to be more carefully packaged in boxes and protective wrapping. This savings of time and materials increases the courier’s cost-effectiveness even more.

Statewide Usage
There were too few participating school and special libraries to even attempt extrapolating their data on a statewide level, but participation from public and academic libraries was sufficient to attempt an estimate. This study had a relatively small number of participants, and they were a self-selected (volunteer) group, making it impossible to assume a representative sample and difficult to extrapolate numbers of items moved on a statewide level.

Making extrapolation even more difficult is the fact that different libraries use the courier in very different ways. For example, Grand County Library District, which serves a population of around 14,000 people, has the courier stop at all 6 of its locations, and uses the courier for intra-library loaning of items (materials sent between Grand County libraries), as well as inter-library loans (materials sent to other library systems). Meanwhile, Aurora Public Library, which serves nearly 300,000 people at its 7 branches, has the courier only stop at one location, and uses it only for inter-library loans. These two library systems, serving quite different populations, have very similar courier usage numbers.

This suggests that extrapolating exclusively on the basis of population served (or in the case of academic libraries, enrollment) or solely on number of courier stops may produce an inaccurate number. Because no single method recommends itself, extrapolations were made using both methods (see Table 1).

251 Table 1

Using these estimations, it is expected that public libraries ship somewhere near 2 million items on the courier each year and save between $600,000 and $1 million annually, when comparing courier cost with USPS. Again, this savings jumps dramatically if the alternative shipping method were either FedEx or UPS (see Chart 2).

251 Chart 2

Extrapolated in the same manner, it is projected that academic libraries in Colorado ship around 400,000 items on the courier (see Table 2) and in the process save more than $200,000 over USPS costs, while spending less than $100,000 on courier service (see Chart 3).

251 Table 2

251 Chart 3

It is highly probable that courier usage is increasing. Prospector, the unified catalog of 23 libraries in Colorado and Wyoming, which uses the courier as its shipping method, has seen a dramatic rise in use over the past few years. According to their statistics (found at, they fulfilled 129,719 requests between library systems in 2003. For 2006, that number nearly tripled, to 377,632. For the first three months of 2007, 116,546 requests were fulfilled; at that pace, Prospector will reach 466,184 requests fulfilled for the year. The courier is involved twice with each of those requests—once to move it to the requesting library, and again to return it to the owning library.

Again, given the diversity of the libraries on the courier, and the small, volunteer nature of the participating sample, these estimates are just that—estimates. Any number of factors could affect the true annual totals in either direction. For instance, the 2 largest public libraries in the state—Denver Public Library and Jefferson County Public Library—both participate heavily on the courier, moving large numbers of materials via Prospector. However, neither of them participated in this study, so their data could not be used to aid in the extrapolations.

Without a more comprehensive study, an exact number of items moved by the courier each year cannot be pinpointed. In addition to the problems inherent in attempting to extrapolate for public and academic libraries, insufficient data is available for school and special libraries as well as community courier stops to attempt an extrapolation. However, it is safe to say that millions of items are being sent among Colorado libraries each year using the statewide courier, and the savings provided to these libraries is tremendous. Combined public and academic libraries alone would spend over 250 percent more using USPS, the least expensive alternative.

Is $40,000 the Magic Number?

With such a wide range of salaries being offered to new Master of Library Science (MLS) graduates, it may be difficult to know just how much one should expect to be paid. It now appears that $40,000 may be the magic number.

Colorado Public Library Annual Report Job Definitions

  • Beginning Librarians: Staff with LIS master’s degrees but no professional experience after receiving the degree.
  • Non-supervisory Librarians:  Staff with LIS master’s degrees who were not reported earlier [i.e., managers, supervisors, associate directors, and directors] and who do not supervise.

According to a February 2007 press release by the American Library Association (ALA), $40,000 is the wage most agreed upon as the minimum starting salary that should be offered to professional librarians.15 In their annual salary survey, ALA defines a professional librarian as an individual with a master’s degree from an ALA-accredited program.16

The declaration passed by ALA at the 2007 Midwinter meeting, “endorses a nonbinding minimum salary of $40,000 for professional librarians.”  It also states: more than “three-quarters of respondent library workers support the establishment of salary minimums for librarians, with the commonest salary figure cited being $40,000.”17 The full resolution can be found on the ALA-APA website at:

How realistic is this number? The most recent data available from the 2005 Colorado Public Library Report, which reports salaries as of January 2006, illustrates how Colorado stands.18

Based on this report, out of the 115 public libraries in Colorado, 65 reported employing ALA-MLS accredited librarians. The remaining 50 libraries reported no librarians with ALA-MLS credentials (see Chart 1). Of these 65 libraries with ALA-MLS librarians, only 33 reported salaries for full-time beginning and non-supervisory librarian positions (see definitions in sidebar). The following information is based on the salaries reported by these 33 libraries.

250 Chart 1

More than half (17) of the 33 libraries, report paying a minimum salary of less than $40,000 to full-time beginning and non-supervisory librarians. Many of these salaries are significantly less than $40,000.

Less than one-third (10) of these libraries, report paying a minimum salary of $40,000 or more to full-time beginning and non-supervisory librarians. Six libraries did not report minimum salaries (see Chart 2).

250 Chart 2

More than three-fourths (25) of the 33 libraries report paying a maximum salary of $40,000 or more to beginning and non-supervisory librarians. While about one-fourth (8) of these libraries report paying a maximum salary of less than $40,000 (see Chart 3).

250 Chart 3

Perhaps the ALA resolution will be an incentive for libraries to increase the minimum salaries of librarians. At this time, however, more than half of the public libraries in Colorado do not pay the proposed minimum salary of $40,000 to full-time beginning or non-supervisory librarians.

250 Image 1

For detailed information regarding individual libraries reported salaries of librarians in Colorado go to:

Salaries of Staff Working in Archives

The ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey, the Society of American Archivists’ (SAA) A*CENSUS19 survey and the U.S. Department of Labor–Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) all have salary information and occupation definitions for positions in archives (see sidebars). The definition in the ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey includes most of the tasks mentioned in the other two resources, stating that a staff member working in archives or special collections “manages and maintains collection; identifies and appraises records, authenticates, describes and documents, facilitates access and use, preserves and conserves, and exhibits collection.”

Position Definitions–Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Archivists – Appraise, edit, and direct safekeeping of permanent records and historically valuable documents. Participate in research activities based on archival materials.
  • Librarians – Administer libraries and perform related library services. Tasks may include selecting, acquiring, cataloguing, classifying, circulating, and maintaining library materials; and furnishing reference, bibliographical, and readers’ advisory services. May perform in-depth, strategic research, and synthesize, analyze, edit, and filter information. May set up or work with databases and information systems to catalogue and access information.
  • Library Technicians – Assist librarians by helping readers in the use of library catalogs, databases, and indexes to locate books and other materials; and by answering questions that require only brief consultation of standard reference. Compile records; sort and shelve books; remove or repair damaged books; register patrons; check materials in and out of the circulation process. Replace materials in shelving area (stacks) or files.

Table 1
Available Salary Data for Positions in Archives249 Table 1

Salaries of those working in archives vary from more than $56,000 to less than $27,000, depending on the position (see Table 1). For example, according to the ALA Survey of Librarian Salaries, the average salary for an MLS Librarian is $56,259 (regardless of library type) whereas a non-MLS Archives and Special Collections Clerk (in an academic library) earns on average $26,424 annually.

Position Definitions–Society of American Archivists
1. An individual responsible for appraising, acquiring, arranging, describing, preserving, and providing access to records of enduring value, according to the principles of provenance, original order, and collective control to protect the materials’ authenticity and context.
2. An individual with responsibility for management and oversight of an archival repository or of records of enduring value.

The training and education needed to be a professional archivist is usually similar to that of a librarian. However, according to the BLS, archivists typically earn $8,260 less annually than librarians. There is a larger difference in the salary data collected from professional associations. The SAA’s A*CENSUS survey found that the average annual salary of archivists is $46,544, this is $9,715 less than the ALA average for librarians.

The 2006 ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey asked participating public and academic libraries to provide salary information specifically for Library Technical Assistants and Clerks. In archives, the average annual salary for Library Technical Assistants was $34,651 and Clerks earned $26,640 in public libraries (see Chart 1). The survey results indicate that both positions earn less in academic libraries. Library Technical Assistants in academic libraries earned an average salary of $31,149 which is $3,502 less than those in public libraries. Clerks in academic libraries earned almost $400 less than those in public libraries.

Chart 1
ALA Average Annual Salaries of Library Technicians and Clerks in Archives and Special Collections

249 Chart 1

Associate Librarians of Archives and Special Collections are non-MLS positions which may perform managerial and administrative duties, according to the ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey. Of these Associate Librarians in public libraries, 128 reported their education levels. Eight reported they had a master’s degree; however, of the 45 in academic libraries who reported their education levels, 12 had master’s degrees and 3 had doctoral degrees.

The average annual salary of Associate Librarians of Archives and Special Collections is $30,329 in public libraries and $40,445 in academic libraries. When these salaries are compared to the SAA & BLS average annual salaries, Archivists (MLS) earn between $16,215 to $10,521 more than Associate Librarians (non-MLS) in public libraries and $6,099 to $405 more than those in academic libraries (see Table 1).

Both MLS and non-MLS positions in archives may perform similar tasks at different professional levels. However, salaries for positions in this field range widely. Average annually salaries for non-MLS positions are less in academic libraries than public libraries. While the BLS data suggests that an archivist earns more than 20 percent less than the average annual salary of a librarian.

Position Definitions–American Library Association

  • Archives and Special Collections (non-MLS positions)  Manages and maintains collection; identifies and appraises records, authenticates, describes, and documents, facilitates access and use, preserves, and conserves, and exhibits collection.
  • Associate Librarian (non-MLS degreed)  Provides assistance to patrons including topical research and material location. Assists patrons with the use of library resources and equipment. Screens the collection for outdated or used materials following established guidelines. May perform managerial and administrative duties.
  • Library Technical Assistant  Provides basic assistance to patrons referring patrons to Librarian professional assistance. Locates materials and information for patrons. May complete routine copy cataloging. Assists with special programming.
  • Clerk  Performs routine duties required the use of a variety of forms, reports or procedures. Provides basic patron assistance: sets up computer stations, locates materials, provides information. Maintains departmental or area records. Performs miscellaneous clerical duties such as filing, typing, sorting, or photocopying.


  • Grady, J. & Davis, D. (2006). ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey: A Survey of Library Positions Not Requiring an ALA-Accredited Mater’s Degree. American Library Association – Allied Professional Association.
  • Grady, J. & Davis, D. (2006). ALA Survey of Librarian Salaries. American Library Association – Allied Professional Association.
  • Society of American Archivists. (2005). A*CENSUS. Available at: .
  • U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2001). Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System. Available at:
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