News

Fourth-graders in the U.S. rank 16th in literacy in an international reading literacy study

The National Center for Education Statistics recently released a first look at the results of the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and the new ePIRLS. This assessment is administered every five years to fourth-graders in participating countries around the world. PIRLS assesses student performance in reading literacy, while ePIRLS, administered for the first time in 2016, measures students’ approaches to informational reading in an online environment.

The overall PIRLS average reading score for fourth-graders in the United States was  549 out 1000 possible points, ranking 15th out of the 58 countries participating. The U.S. average score declined from the last time PIRLS was administered in 2011 (556), but remained higher than the international centerpoint (500). About 1 in 5 (16%) U.S. fourth-graders hit the “advanced” benchmark (a score of 625 or higher) on the PIRLS scale, and over half (53%) scored at or above the “high” benchmark (550).  Female students in the U.S. scored higher on average than males (553 vs. 545). Students attending public schools with more than 75% of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch scored lower on average (516) than the U.S. overall average reading score.

Sixteen countries participated in the first ePIRLS assessment. Fourth-graders in the U.S. ranked 6th out of the participating school systems, with an average score of 557 out of 1000 on the online informational reading scale. Student scores were distributed similarly to the original PIRLS assessment – about 1 in 5 (18%) U.S. fourth-graders hit the “advanced” benchmark, and over half (56%) hit the “high” benchmark. Like with PIRLS, female students in the U.S. scored higher on average than male students (560 vs. 554), while students at schools with more students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches scored lower than average (527).

For more information about how fourth-graders in the U.S. stack up to those in other countries in literacy, 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.

Study finds that the learning environment at home prior to kindergarten impacts children’s academic performance in 5th grade

A study recently published in Applied Developmental Science measured the connection between children’s home environments before kindergarten and children’s academic skills during their 5th grade year. The study found that “early home learning environments related to children’s academic skills up to 10 years later across all subgroups studied–White, Black, Hispanic, English-speaking, Hispanic Spanish-speaking” (13).

Children’s early learning environments predicted their academic skills the summer before they began kindergarten, and their academic skills at that time predicted their academic skills in 5th grade (12). The researchers concluded that “experiences parents provide their infants as early as the first year of life may solidify into patterns of engagement that will either continue to support or impede children’s emerging skills over time” (12).

The study included 2,204 mothers and their children from low-income and ethnically diverse backgrounds. Children’s home environments and their academic skills were assessed the summer before they began kindergarten and again during 5th grade. Home learning environments were measured based on “children’s participation in learning activities, the quality of mothers’ engagement with children, and the availability of learning materials in the home across children’s first five years of life” (3).

Children’s academic skills were measured using assessments of their vocabulary, literacy skills, math skills, and cognitive ability. In their analysis, the researchers controlled for other characteristics of families, like the mother’s education background, gender and firstborn status of the child in the study, race/ethnicity of the family, mother’s employment status, and if there was father figure living in the home.

Libraries are well-positioned to work with families in those critical years before their child enters kindergarten.  Libraries can support positive early home learning environments by sharing ideas for learning activities, modeling and supporting positive caregiver-child interactions, and providing free learning materials.

For more information, 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.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation study shows that academic library employees remain mostly female and white despite a push for diversity

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recently released the results of a study examining diversity in academic libraries. Ithaka S+R was commissioned to survey member institutions of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) to find out how the academic library community perceives its progress towards more inclusive and diverse libraries.

Across the ARL libraries surveyed, about 3 in 5 (61%) library staff are women and 2 in 5 are men (38%). These gender ratios remain consistent across levels of management and seniority, but begin to vary among different positions within the library. More than 4 in 5 (84%) library communications positions are filled by women. Finance/development, human resources, and information literacy/teaching topped out the female-skewed positions (between 72%-82% female). Positions primarily staffed by men include security (73% men), technology (70%), maker space/design lab (65%), and facilities/operations (64%). When directors of the participating institutions were asked how their library compared to others in terms of gender equality, they considered their own library to be less inclusive than the larger academic library community.

In addition to being a largely female profession, 7 in 10 (71%) academic library staff members are white non-Hispanic. Unlike gender, ethnicity varies across management and seniority levels – nearly 9 in 10 (87%) senior staff are white non-Hispanic. Academic library directors considered their own library to be more equitable in terms of race and ethnicity compared to the library community, but felt that their libraries were less racially diverse than the library community. The directors surveyed mostly attributed the lack of diversity to external factors that might be limiting the number of job applicants from diverse backgrounds rather than internal factors like bias in the interview process or an inclusive library culture.

For more information about diversity in academic libraries, 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.

Read to the Children surveys show that 99% of offender participants would recommend the program to others

Since 1999, the Read to the Children (RTC) program, a collaboration between the Colorado State Library and the Colorado Department of Corrections, has allowed offenders in Colorado’s state prisons to send young family members a book accompanied by a recording of the offender reading it. In the past year, around 1,900 offenders and 3,200 children participated in RTC. The most recent Fast Facts report presents survey results from 253 caregivers and 366 offenders who participated in RTC between 2013 and 2016.

The survey results from offender participants reveal the position that the RTC program holds in the lives of incarcerated parents and relatives. About 9 in 10 (91%) respondents said that RTC is “very important” to them, and nearly all (99%) said that they would recommend the program to fellow offenders. The importance of teaching children to read well is a primary concern of RTC offender respondents – more than 3 in 5 (64%) selected “helping their child learn to read better” as one of the reasons they were participating. In the caregiver surveys, respondents affirmed the positive effect of RTC on their child’s reading. More than 4 in 5 caregivers said that both the time their child spends reading (82%) and their child’s enjoyment of reading (85%) increased after participating in RTC.

RTC also gives families an opportunity to stay connected while a parent or relative is incarcerated. More than 4 in 5 (84%) offenders said that they are participating in RTC to improve their relationship with their child. About 9 in 10 (92%) said that RTC is a “very helpful” way to connect with their child, indicating that it may have some impact on helping offenders maintain family connections. Caregivers also noted the influence of RTC on maintaining a relationship with their incarcerated family members. More than 4 in 5 (84%) said that participating in RTC has improved their child’s relationship with the offender, and three-quarters (76%) of caregivers said that RTC has improved their own relationship with the offender.

The full Fast Facts 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.

Save

Colorado Academic Librarians Explore Services for Transfer Students

Note: This study will be presented on October 12, 2017, 3:15-4:15, at the Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL) Annual Conference (“Transfer Connection: Academic Library Services for Transfer Students“).

Transfer students are a unique population in academic libraries because their experiences vary widely: some are familiar with their community college library and then transfer to a four-year setting while others transfer between two and four-year institutions of different sizes. A team of librarian-researchers from University of Colorado-Boulder and Colorado Community Colleges Online (CCCOnline) are working together to learn more about serving this type of student. “I would discover that there were transfer students and they felt like they had missed out on the freshman level information literacy class that we typically offer,” explained participating librarian Megan Welsh of CU Boulder.

In spring 2017, Lindsay Roberts (CU Boulder), Megan Welsh (CU Boulder), and Brittany Dudek (CCCOnline) designed and distributed a survey about transfer students for academic librarians. “Specifically, we were really interested to know if libraries were doing outreach activities or instruction to transfer students as a unique population on our campuses,” Roberts said.

The research team determined their sample by using data from the Colorado Department of Higher Education to identify the four-year institutions that were receiving transfer students as well as all two-year schools in the state. This totaled 57 institutions, and the survey was sent to 44 of them (the team eliminated institutions that had closed or were closing or hadn’t transferred any students to public four-year institutions in 2015).  Fifty-five librarians responded representing 30 higher education institutions in the state: 20 four-year schools and 10 two-year schools. About three-fourths of the respondents (76%) worked in four-year schools. Only two of the libraries at four-year institutions represented by respondents were currently offering information literacy instruction specifically tailored to this group.

The survey also gathered information about the kinds of information literacy activities being used by libraries at two-year and four-year institutions. The largest difference between implementation of activities was for courses with an embedded librarian, which 80% of four-year library respondents use and 30% of two-year library respondents use.  Another large difference was in the usage of handouts: 100% of two-year library respondents use them, and 65% of four-year library respondents use them. See the chart below for additional results:

Moving forward, the research team plans to continue working together to address questions about transfer students. CU Boulder libraries launched a new event this fall to welcome transfer students to the library, a fall picnic and information session.

Interested in learning more? The research team will be hosting a CAL conference session, “Transfer Connection,” on October 12, 2017 to discuss this project and facilitate more conversation on this topic. They are hopeful that these kinds of conversations could lead to increased collaboration across two- and four-year institutions and continual service improvement.

Materials challenges in Colorado public libraries continue to drop

Just in time for Banned Books Week, LRS’s latest Fast Facts report summarizes the results of our annual investigation into the materials that are challenged in public libraries across Colorado. This Fast Facts details the number, type, and reasons for the challenges reported in the 2016 Public Library Annual Report. The information that public libraries provided to us about these challenges help determine the attitude toward intellectual freedom in Colorado now and over time.

After hovering at just under 30 challenges from 2013-2015, the number of challenges dropped to 22. This continues a consistent downward trend in the number of reported public library challenges since 2010.

Like in previous years, materials for adults were challenged most often, making up well over half (60%) of all challenges. Just over a third (35%) of challenges were aimed towards children’s materials, and only 5% of challenges were for young adult materials. About two-thirds (68%) of challenges resulted in no change at all, which has been the most common resolution for public library challenges in recent years. “Sexually explicit” (50%) and “Other” (17%) held onto their top spots as the most frequent reasons cited for the challenges. “Homosexuality,” “Nudity,” “Sexism,” and “Unsuited to Age Group” all tied for third at 14%.

Fewer types of materials were challenged in 2016 than in 2015. Videos were challenged most, making up over half (55%) of all challenges. About a third (36%) of challenges were aimed at books, and there were a few challenges to periodicals (5%) and computer policy (5%). Unlike in 2015, there were no challenges to library activities, audiobooks, or music.

For more results from the Public Library Challenges Survey, check out the full 2016 Challenged Materials in Public Libraries Fast Facts report.

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.

Libraries are the Most Highly Trusted Resource for Information on Recent Pew Survey

Image credit: Pew Internet

A recent Pew survey shows that 40% of U.S. adults trust information from a local public library or librarians “a lot.” Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they trust libraries/librarians “some.” Totaling the percentage of respondents who trust a resource “a lot” or “some,” 83% trust health care providers, 82% trust family or friends, and 78% trust libraries/librarians. Libraries have the largest percentage of the strongest feelings of trust.

The survey divided participants into five groups based on their attitudes about information and learning, summarized below.  “Interest” refers to how many different topics respondents expressed interest in.  Groups with high interest expressed interest in more topics.  “Trust” refers to how many sources of information respondents trust “a lot.”  Higher trust means they trust more sources of information.  “Training” means respondents said training on using online resources or digital technology would “contribute a lot” to their decision making.

Group Interest Trust Training Percentage
Eager & Willing Highest High High 22%
Confident High Highest Middle 16%
Cautious & Curious Middle Middle Highest 13%
Doubtful Low Low Low 24%
Wary Lowest Lowest Low 25%

Within each of these subgroups, trust of libraries/librarians varied. Out of the total number of participants who said that they trusted the libraries/librarians a lot, 73% were from the “eager & willing” group, 59% from the “confident” group, 29% from the “cautious & curious” group, 29% from the “doubtful” group, and 14% from the “wary” group. (Percentages do not total to 100% because respondents could say that they trust multiple sources “a lot.”)

The “eager & willing” group was the most likely to have interacted with their local library in the past 12 months through one of the following: visiting a library or bookmobile, using a public library website, or using a public library app.  Out of all the groups, this one also expressed the strongest desire for both a public library closer to home and expanded library hours. The demographics of the “eager & willing” group show that the typical respondent in this group is: female, non-parent, white (though almost as likely to be black or Hispanic), 30-49 years old, with a household income of less than or equal to $30,000, has a high school education or less, and lives in an urban area.

This survey provides valuable information about perception of libraries, and points to some key questions about users and non-users.  How can libraries continue to serve this specific population that is eager to use the library and further their skills?  How can libraries also reach out to the other groups, who are less trusting of information sources in general?

You can access 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.

The number of jobs posted to Library Jobline has nearly tripled since 2009

 Library Jobline, LRS’s website for library job postings and resources, posted a record number of jobs in 2016 and saw a continued increase in the number of people using the website to post and search for jobs. Data collected from the Library Jobline website are highlighted in the most recent Fast Facts report.

In 2016, 673 library jobs were posted to Library Jobline, with May being the busiest month for job postings (73 posts). More than two-thirds (69%) of jobs posted were located in Colorado, and over half (53%) were full-time positions. A majority of jobs posted were in public libraries (66%), while 1 in 5 (20%) were academic library jobs. Jobs in institutional libraries, school libraries, and other institutions made up the remaining posts.

Salaries for library positions have also remained steady after an increase from post-recession lows. Average hourly salaries for Academic library positions ($21.96) were similar to last year, and Public library positions ($22.09) increased by 6% since 2015. The average hourly salary for School libraries ($19.22) recovered from its low in 2015 ($16.62). Average salaries for positions not requiring an MLIS jumped about another dollar to $18.12/hour, while average salaries for jobs requiring an MLIS continued to hover around $24.28/hour.

Subscriptions to Library Jobline have also continued to grow, with 556 new jobseekers and 154 new employers added in 2016. This led to more than 823,000 emails with job opportunities sent to jobseekers –more than 2,000 emails a week!

Are you hiring at your library? In the library job market yourself? Sign up for Library Jobline as an employer or jobseeker. Jobseekers can specify what jobs they’re interested in and get emails sent straight to their inbox whenever new posts meet their criteria. Employers can also reach nearly 5,000 jobseekers and more than 1,000 followers on Twitter @libraryjobline.

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.

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.

Page 1 of 5612345...102030...Last »

POPULAR RESOURCES

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

LIBRARYJOBLINE

See more @ LibraryJobline.org

ABOUT

LRS is part of the Colorado State Library, a unit of the Colorado Department of Education. We design and conduct library research for library and education professionals, public officials, and the media to inform practices and assessment needs. We partner with the Library and Information Science program at University of Denver's Morgridge College of Education to provide research fellowships to current MLIS students.

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

Staff & Contact Info