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Utrecht University Library study examines the future of bookshelves in the library

As libraries increasingly focus on digital information resources, librarians are left wondering what the interior of the library will look like in the future if most of their materials can be found online rather than on bookshelves. The Utrecht University Library (UUL) attempted to answer this question in a recent study undertaken to predict what the role of library bookshelves will be by 2025.

Librarians at UUL looked at their acquisition data to determine the changing ratio of paper and digital books and journals in the library’s collection. They found that since 2014, 90% of UUL’s acquisitions budget was spent on digital publications and databases. In that same time frame, 4 in 5 (80%) of all of UUL’s paper publications were moved off of the open library shelves and placed in depositories. However, some students and faculty specifically request that their materials be bought in paper format – three-quarters (75%) of all the paper books purchased in 2016 were for Humanities students and faculty, and half (50%) of all publications on UUL’s open shelves had a Humanities background.

UUL researchers also distributed a survey to library users to better understand how their patrons were using the open shelves to look for information. They found that while about half (51%) of faculty always or frequently use materials from UUL’s open shelves, undergraduate and graduate students rarely do. In focus group sessions, faculty said that they found it easier to get an impression of the available literature on a subject by standing in front of a shelf, rather than scrolling through ebooks or databases. Conversely, students said that it was quicker to search through the library’s online resources than it was to make a trip to the library.

Students did acknowledge the environmental advantage of having open shelves in the library. Both undergraduate and graduate students said that they liked having the bookshelves around while they studied because they “create an intellectually stimulating and supportive environment.”

For more predictions about the future of library bookshelves, check out the full report here.

ALA report finds that the number of rural public libraries offering internet services increases to 85%

The American Libraries Association (ALA) recently published a report exploring the ways that rural public libraries meet the needs of their communities, especially by providing digital literacy training and free access to the internet. This report used data collected by the Public Libraries Survey and the Digital Inclusion Survey.

Rural libraries tend to fall into a role of internet provider for rural communities since affordable, high-capacity home broadband internet can be difficult to obtain outside of more populous areas. More than 4 in 5 (85%) rural libraries surveyed reported subscribing to internet download speeds of at least 1.5 Megabits per second (Mbps), increased from more than half (57%) that reported the same in 2010.  The median connection speed across rural libraries is 10 Mbps, which is slow by today’s standards – the Federal Communications Commission recommends connection speeds of 100 Mbps for all libraries serving 50,000 people or less.

Rural libraries have kept pace with their urban and suburban counterparts in helping their patrons breach the digital divide. Nearly all libraries surveyed offer public WiFi to their patrons, allowing for use of personal devices while in the library. More than 4 in 5 (84%) rural libraries offer basic computer training, which is the same rate as urban/suburban libraries (87%).  Libraries across the board also offer training in basic office productivity software, like Microsoft Office, at a similar rate (81% for rural libraries, and 84% for all libraries). A larger gap emerged when librarians were asked about specialized training for social media tools and new technologies, which are more frequently offered at urban and suburban libraries.

For more information about the role that rural libraries play in their communities, the full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Freedman Consulting study finds strong bipartisan support for net neutrality rules

Image credit: Freedman Center

A recent study conducted by Freedman Consulting found that Americans across the political spectrum support net neutrality. The study also found a bipartisan belief that access to the internet is essential and that the government should play a role in expanding internet access.

About three-quarters (77%) of the survey respondents indicated that they believe the Federal Communication Commission’s existing Open Internet rules should be kept in place. Unlike many political issues, this issue received support from all major political parties – three-quarters of both Republicans (73%) and Independents (76%), and 4 in 5 Democrats (80%) noted their support for net neutrality rules.

An underlying reason for this broad support of net neutrality rules is likely because of the understanding that internet access has become necessary for both economic success and free expression. When given the statement, “internet access is essential and everyone needs it in the 21st century economy,” three-quarters (75%) of the survey respondents agreed. The study also found that more than 4 in 5 (83%) respondents viewed internet access as on-par with other essential infrastructure, like roads and bridges, and more than two-thirds (70%) agree  that the government should provide funding to help rural and low-income Americans access the internet.

While net neutrality can seem like an issue best left to legislators and tech giants, libraries have a lot to lose if ISPs no longer have to abide by net neutrality regulations. On a practical level, libraries will likely have to choose between paying more for usable internet access or trying to function using cheaper, slower connection speeds. From an ethical standpoint, libraries are encouraged to advocate for intellectual freedom, which is a right that would be undermined if internet access is blocked or throttled. However, this report suggests that library patrons support regulations that will allow libraries to continue providing access to information.

For information about how Americans view net neutrality, the full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Pew analysis finds that Millennials are the most likely generation to use their public libraries

In a new analysis of data collected in a 2016 survey, Pew Research Center found that Millennials were the most likely generation to say they used their public library in the past year, either through the library’s physical premises or online. The analysis also reveals other demographic trends in library use.

Over half (53%) of the Millennials (those ages 18 to 35) surveyed report that they have used a public library or bookmobile within the previous year. This is compared to about 2 in 5 of both Gen Xers (those ages 36-51; 45%) and Baby Boomers (those ages 52-70; 43%) and a little over a third (36%) of respondents in the Silent Generation (ages 71-88). Millennials also tend to take advantage of the resources found on their public library’s website most often – more than 2 in 5 (44%) Millennials report using their library website in the past year, while a third (33%) of GenXers, about a quarter (24%) of Baby Boomers, and about 1 in 10 (11%) of the Silent Generation report the same.

Pew’s new analysis also reveals differences in library use based on gender and parental status. In the 2016 survey, over half of women (54%) said that they had visited a public library or bookmobile in that past year, while about 2 in 5 men (39%) said the same. Similarly, about 2 in 5 (37%) women had visited their library’s website, while about a quarter of men (24%) did. Parents were also more likely to have visited their library’s physical premises than nonparents in the past year (54% vs. 43%).

For more information about generational and demographic library use, the full article can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Effective Strategies for Minimizing Summer Learning Loss

Summer learning loss is a major issue that schools, libraries, and other community organizations try to alleviate through programming. Many children lose math and reading skills over the summer, and these losses are particularly steep for low-income children (click here for more info). What are the best ways to prevent summer learning loss and how can libraries incorporate best practices into their summer programming?

The Wallace Foundation released a report in September 2016 sharing results of a multi-year evaluation on five free and voluntary summer learning programs offered by school districts. All of the programs had at least three hours of instruction per day, and lasted at least five weeks. Free transportation and meals were also provided. All of the study subjects were in the third grade as of spring 2013.

The evaluation found several promising correlations to positive outcomes for students who attended at least 20 days of the program. For students who attended programming two summers in a row (2013 & 2014), they had significant increases in math and language arts achievement that were still present on their standardized test scores the following spring (2015). Students who attended for two summers also showed some increases in their social-emotional competencies, like self-regulation and self-motivation. The amount of academic time on task students had in their summer program correlated with better outcomes. This study defined high time on task as 34 hours of language arts instruction and 25 hours of mathematics instruction over the course of a five week or longer program. The report makes several recommendations: 1) offer at least five weeks of programming 2) offer at least three hours of academics per day 3) encourage attendance at multiple summers in a row and 4) encourage high attendance throughout the program.

It is important to note that these findings are correlations and not causal because they were not found using a randomized control group, so selection bias could be affecting the results.  The Wallace Foundation is continuing to test for causal relationships as well.  For a complete copy of the current evaluation, please click here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Pew survey finds that the number of seniors who own smartphones has doubled since 2013

The Pew Research Center recently published the results of a survey studying technology use among adults ages 65 and older in the United States. They found that while technology adoption is slower among senior citizens, the rate of technology use among seniors is growing.

The percentage of seniors using technology has increased dramatically in the past few years. Two-thirds (67%) of the seniors that were surveyed use the internet, and half (51%) report that they can access broadband internet in their homes. About 2 in 5 (42%) seniors reported that they own smartphones, up from about 1 in 5 (18%) just four years ago in 2013. The number of seniors that own tablets has also doubled since 2013, up to about one-third (32%). Social media use among seniors has increased as well, with about a third (34%) of seniors reporting that they use social networking sites, up from about a quarter (27%) in 2013.

Despite these gains, technology adoption among seniors remains lower than among those ages 18 to 64. This may be due to a lack of confidence when it comes to using new technologies – only about a quarter (26%) of those ages 65 and older report feeling confident when using smartphones, computers, or other electronic devices, while roughly a third (34%) describe themselves as having little to no confidence with these devices. Senior citizens are also more likely to need help setting up new devices or need someone to show them how to use it, with about three-quarters (73%) of seniors reporting that they often need assistance.

This report reveals that there is clearly still a need for the technology assistance and classes that many libraries already offer to seniors, and perhaps even more of an opportunity for librarians to step in and help seniors become digitally connected. For more information about demographics and attitudes towards technology use by seniors, the full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Stanford University study finds that libraries are well-positioned to address food insecurity

A recent study by the Stanford University School of Medicine found that library-based meal programs are an effective way to address food insecurity in low-income neighborhoods and can help patrons become aware of other community food resources. The researchers examined ten library meal programs in high-poverty areas in Silicon Valley in California.

Food insecurity (FI) became a leading public health concern during the Great Recession. In 2015, 12.7% of U.S. households (about 16 million households) reported being food insecure at some point during the year, meaning that the household lacked the money or resources to access adequate food for themselves or their family. As trusted, community-centered organizations, libraries are well-positioned to provide social services to address community needs.

To tackle food insecurity in Silicon Valley, the libraries studied began serving lunches to low-income families in the summer when children do not have access to free or reduced-price lunches at school. About 2 in 5 (41%) meal program participants surveyed were at risk for FI. Among those at risk for FI, more than 4 in 5 (85%) were Hispanic or Latino and 3 in 5 (61%) lived in households with two adults present. Lower education is typically associated with FI, but about 1 in 5 (21%) food insecure participants held either a bachelor’s or graduate degree. About 9 in 10 (91%) participants attended their library’s meal program at least once a week.

When asked about library meal programs during in-person interviews, participants mentioned that they were likely to return for meals at the library because they viewed the library as a welcoming and stigma-free environment. Immigrants were especially enthusiastic about library meal programs because they are often deterred from enrolling in government-run food assistance programs due to fears of deportation. Participants also said that they trusted the library to provide them with accurate information for external community resources like WIC and SNAP.

For more information about library meal programs, the full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

SLJ Technology Survey finds that technology spending has increased by 75% in schools

The School Library Journal recently published the results of their 2017 Technology Survey and found that school librarians are experiencing increased spending on digital tools for their libraries, allowing school librarians to become technology leaders within their school districts.

The survey found that the average amount spent on technology per school has increased by 75% in the past two years, from an average of $3,633 during the 2014/2015 school year to $6,257 in 2016/2017. School librarians are primarily responsible for tech usage in the library itself, but about half (45%) of the school librarians responding to the survey noted that they also collaborate with teachers to present tech-integrated lessons. More than a quarter (27%) of respondents have created even deeper partnerships with teachers to co-teach technology-rich lessons. Four in ten (41%) school librarians reported leading professional development activities using technologies in the library.

Survey respondents felt that their colleagues were supportive of librarians taking a leadership role in purchasing and implementing technology in their school. They reported that the majority of administrators (60%), teachers (68%), and students (70%) view school librarians as technology leaders. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents noted that they also feel supported by their school or district’s technology coordinator.  About a third (32%) of survey respondents said that being knowledgeable about the technology used in their schools provided them with added job security.

For more information about how school librarians are incorporating technology into their libraries, you can find the full report here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Academic librarians estimate that only 28% of first-year students are prepared for college-level research

In January & February of 2017, Library Journal surveyed college and university libraries about their services for first-year students. The survey was sent to 12,000 academic libraries. In total, 543 schools participated: 399 four-year schools, and 144 two-year schools. The results were initially shared at the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) 2017 conference.

Respondents reported that, in their opinion, only 28% of first-year students are prepared for college-level research. Four-year and two-year academic librarians agreed that evaluating resources for reliability is a major challenge for first-year students.

The majority of participating libraries (97%) reported that they offer information literacy instruction for first-year students. Most of the time information literacy instruction is optional. It was mandated at 22% of four-year institutions and 7% of two-year schools. Librarians embedded within courses is more rare, with 35% of four-year schools and 23% of two-year schools offering that option. While information literacy instruction is offered widely, only 23% of respondents have a specific information literacy or first-year experience librarian.  When asked about the ACRL Information Literacy Framework, Respondents most frequently used the “Research as Inquiry” and “Searching as Strategic Exploration” areas in their instruction, and least frequently used “Information Creation as a Process.”

Most respondents’ schools (90%) measure first-year student success. This takes a variety of forms, for example student retention rates, student satisfaction, and GPA. Not all academic libraries, however, have attempted to correlate information literacy or library experiences for first-year students with indicators of student success.  While the importance of information literacy is clear to librarians, what types of data could show a quantifiable connection between student success and information literacy?  Separately from the Library Journal study, librarians at the University of Minnesota have been researching this connection. Check out their studies for more information.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

99% of CTBL survey respondents rate CTBL’s services as “excellent” or “good”

Have you ever wondered how Coloradans who are unable to read standard print access library services? With funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the Colorado Talking Book Library (CTBL) is able to provide these patrons with audiobooks, large print books, Braille materials, descriptive videos, and more to ensure that every Coloradan is able to read.

To find out what CTBL patrons think of the library services, the CTBL Patron Satisfaction Survey is administered to an age-stratified sample of CTBL patrons every 18 months. The survey seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the library and the patrons’ overall satisfaction with its services. Highlights from the survey are presented in our new Fast Facts, and are described in more detail in our new Closer Look report.

As of October 2016, CTBL had over 6,200 active patrons living throughout the state; in fact, CTBL patrons live in every county in Colorado.  About 7 in 10 (72%) CTBL patrons are over the age of 60 and two-thirds (66%) have completed at least some college.

The survey revealed that CTBL patrons are, overall, very happy with the library’s services – nearly all of the respondents (99%) rated the overall quality of CTBL’s service as “excellent” or “good.” Patrons also reported that CTBL library services were valuable to them in many ways. The majority of respondents identified reading fiction for pleasure (84%) and keeping their mind active (84%) as the most important function CTBL served in their lives. Seven in 10 respondents (70%) reported that CTBL allowed them to continue their hobby of reading after they became unable to read standard print materials.

For more information about the CTBL Patron Satisfaction Survey, check out the Fast Facts here or the full Closer Look report here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

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