Coming to CAL 2016? Join us for “Measuring Your True Impact: Getting Started With Outcome-Based Evaluation”


Will you be at CAL 2016? If so, we hope you will join LRS on Thursday, October 20, 3:15-4:15 in Golden Glow for Measuring Your True Impact: Getting Started With Outcome-Based Evaluation:

Your library offers a lot of great programs, but how can you determine what effects these have on your users? In this session, you’ll learn practical tips for getting started with outcome-based evaluation. You will gain a deeper understanding of a) what outcomes are and how they work in conjunction with inputs and outputs to provide meaningful information about your library’s impact on your community; b) how to measure them (including an overview of several free or low-cost outcome survey tools; and c) how outcome-based evaluation results can be used for management, strategic planning, and demonstrating the value of your library programs.

Study finds that a large percentage of students are performing above grade level


Image credit: John Hopkins Institute for Education Policy

A recent study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy has shown that a much larger number of students perform above grade level than previously thought. After noticing that “getting students to grade level” was a prevalent goal throughout national education policy, the research team behind this study wanted to figure out how many students already perform one or more years above grade level on their first day of school.

After examining assessment data sets from five states, the researchers found large percentages of overachievers in every state. In Wisconsin, between a quarter (25%) and about a half (45%) of all students could have passed the next grade level in the spring of their current grade. For example, more than a third (38%) of Wisconsin’s third-graders already knew enough math to be able to pass fourth grade. Similar numbers were repeated throughout the states studied: between 11% and 37% of students in California could have passed the next grade level, and between 30% and 44% could have in Florida.

These percentages are significant, and even more so when translated to the number of students who are currently not being challenged in class. Using Wisconsin’s data, somewhere between 278,000 and 330,000 public-school students across grades K-12 are performing more than a year above where they are placed in school. In California, that number sits between 1.4 and 2 million students. Across the U.S., more than one million fourth-grade students would have outscored the same number of eighth-graders in math, which, as the researchers note, means that in a single year the number of students already performing four years above their current grade level outnumbers the entire population of Rhode Island.

As an educational resource outside the classroom, libraries can help stimulate overachieving children in a number of ways. For example, helping children seek out information about topics of interest for independent research and providing activities for children of all ability levels can help deepen their learning outside of school.

The entire report can be found here.

Pew survey finds that 1 in 5 Americans have never visited a library

Pew_library visits

Image credit: Pew Internet

Pew Research recently released their annual report on attitudes of Americans towards their public libraries, Libraries 2016. Alongside a plethora of information detailing who is visiting public libraries and why, Pew also reported on those who are not visiting the library.

Among those surveyed, 1 in 5 (19%) said that they have never visited a public library or bookmobile. The demographic analysis of this data points to groups that the library could make a more concerted effort to reach. Someone who has never visited a library is most likely to be male (a quarter of all male respondents said they had never visited a library), part of a minority group (nearly a third of both black and Hispanic respondents), and have less education (29% of those with a high school degree or less). Members of other demographic groups also reported that they had never visited a library: about 1 in 10 of both those with college degrees (11%) and those in households earning $75,000 or more (12%).

Despite having never visited a library, respondents maintained a generally positive view of the libraries in their communities. More than half (56%) of non-users agree that closing the library would have a major impact on their communities, and about 1 in 5 (19%) think that it would have a major impact on their families. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of non-users thought that the library actually does provide them with the resources they need, so it is possible that they are still accessing library resources through friends and family.

The results of this survey revealed that the primary difference between frequent library users and non-users has to do with the information sources they trust. Respondents who had visited the library at least once in the past year were 39% more likely than non-users to agree “a lot” that libraries are a trustworthy information resource.

You can find more information about library non-visitors here, and the entire Libraries 2016 report can be found here.

Library Journal survey finds that digital audiobook circulation has risen by 86% in the past year


Image credit: Library Journal

In the beginning of 2016, Library Journal surveyed 395 public libraries to create the Audiobooks and Public Libraries report. The findings included how often audiobooks are being circulated, the genres that are most popular to collect, and the changing format preference of audiobook patrons.

In 2015, audiobook circulation amounted to a little over 1 out of 10 items circulated (13%). A majority (66%) of the audiobooks circulated were physical CDs or Playaway players, rather than digital downloads. However, nearly 9 in 10 (86%) libraries reported an increase in digital audiobook circulation, while about one-third (35%) reported an increase in physical audiobook circulation. LibraryJournal projects that by 2019, downloadable and streaming audiobooks will make up 51% of an average public library’s collection, as opposed to 38% in 2016.

The audiobook collections of the libraries surveyed lean heavily towards adult fiction. Three-quarters (75%) of current audiobook collections are adult titles, while the remaining quarter (25%) is comprised of young adult and children’s titles. Across all titles, about 4 in 5 (79%) are fiction; for comparison, print book collections are typically about 60% fiction. Patron request is overwhelmingly the most important factor influencing audiobook purchases for the libraries surveyed. Others influencing factors included the popularity of the print book, positive reviews, and the audiobook’s narrator.

For more information about audiobook use in public libraries, check out 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.

Digital divide between Latinos and whites at lowest point in 6 years, according to Pew

Latino digital divide

Image credit: Pew Internet

Pew Research recently published the results of a survey examining internet use of Latinos and Spanish-dominant Latinos in the United States. Overall, they found that the digital divide that between Latinos and whites is at its narrowest point since 2009, declining from 16% to 5% in 2015.

The share of Latino adults who report using the internet increased by 20% in the past six years, with more than 4 in 5 (84%) Latinos reporting regularly using the internet. However, less than half (46%) of Latinos who access the internet do so through a home broadband connection, a number that has only increased by 1% since 2010. This is where internet use practices of Latinos begin to diverge with those of whites, since almost three-quarters (73%) of white internet users have broadband access at home.

Latino internet users are also among the most likely to use a mobile device to access the internet. Nearly all (94%) of Latino users report using mobile internet devices, a share higher than white internet users (85%). Mobile devices are especially common among younger Latinos, but nearly 3 in 5 (58%) Latinos aged 50-64 and about a third (35%) aged 65 and older report accessing the internet this way. Latino internet users are also twice as likely (23%) as whites (10%) to be “smartphone dependent,” meaning that they do not have home internet access but do use a mobile device to access the internet.

Understanding internet use across different demographics can help libraries provide internet access to every member of their community. For example, knowing that many Latino and Spanish-speaking community members do not have home broadband indicates that they may be dependent on public computers or wireless internet sources, especially older Latinos who do not tend to use smartphones. Creating computer literacy programs that can accommodate Spanish-speakers could help welcome this group to the library and provide a reliable internet source.

For more information about internet use among Latinos, check out the full report here.

Survey finds that public library program attendance has steadily increased over the past 3 years

PLDS FY2014_program attendance

Image credit: Public Library Association

The Public Library Association (PLA) recently published the results of their Public Library Data Service Annual Survey. The survey data are from fiscal year 2014 and include finances, resources, service usage, and technology use in public libraries.

One finding documented in the report is the recent tendency of libraries to hire more non-MLS staff than MLS librarians. The percentage of staff with “librarian” in their job title has steadily increased over the past ten years to make up just under a third (31%) of all library staff. The average percentage of MLS-degreed librarians employed by reporting libraries increased by 2.4% since FY 2009, while non-MLS librarians increased by 3.5%. Non-MLS librarians currently represent about 4 in 10 (39%) of all librarian staff, the highest percentage since FY2009.

Libraries also reported steady increases in both the number of library programs offered and program attendance. Although growth has been reported for the past three years, FY2014 marked the fastest rate – programs offered by public libraries increased by 7.3%, while program attendance increased by 6.3%. As PLA notes, more library programming combined with declining circulation numbers suggests that libraries are shifting their service delivery priorities.

The full report provides a wealth of information about public libraries in the United States and 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.

Number of materials challenges in Colorado public libraries is relatively consistent from 2013 to 2015


The Library Research Service’s latest Fast Facts report summarizes the results of our yearly investigation into the materials that are challenged in public libraries across Colorado. The report details the format, intended audience, reasons, and resolutions of challenges that were reported in the 2015 Public Library Annual Report. The information provided about these challenges help us to determine the attitude towards intellectual freedom in Colorado public libraries each year and to track changes over time.

In 2015, the number of challenges remained relatively consistent with what was reported in 2013 and 2014 – hovering just under 30 challenges across the three-year period.

Adults remained the most common audience for challenged materials, with 7 out of 10 (70%) challenges in 2015. However, challenges for children’s materials rose to just under a quarter (24%) of all challenges, up from 12% in 2014, and challenges for young adult material rose to about 1 out of every 5 (17%) challenges. As in 2014, the most common way to handle a challenge was to make no change at all, although there was an increase in librarians finding creative solutions to deal with complaints (“other” solutions were found for 10% of challenges). While “sexually explicit” remained the top reason for challenging an item, representing just over a quarter (26%) of all challenges, “violence” dropped from the second most frequent reason, with “unsuited to age group” and “other” rising to take its place.

The formats of materials challenged varied greatly in 2015 compared to previous years. Like last year, videos and books were the items challenged most, together comprising 80% of all challenges. However, there were no computer challenges in 2015, although that format made up about a third (32%) of all challenges the previous year. Formats that were challenged in 2015, but not in 2014, include periodicals, activities, and others (such as audiobooks and music). We can’t be sure about the reason for increasing challenges of various formats, but it may correspond with the expansion of the types of materials and programs offered by public libraries.

For more breakdowns of this data, check out the full 2015 Challenged Materials in Colorado 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.

 State-funded preschool programs contribute to boosted test scores and higher graduation rates

Michigan preschool

Image credit: Learning Policy Institute

Many reports have been published on the importance of high-quality preschool programs, but there is little practical information available to help those trying to implement preschool programs. The Learning Policy Institute recently published a report on early childhood education that is intended to inform educators and policymakers about the essential elements of creating a high quality early education system. The report describes and analyzes how four states (Michigan, West Virginia, Washington, and North Carolina) have built successful early education systems in order to provide examples for how best to leverage resources and develop practices to improve learning opportunities for young children.

Michigan’s state-funded preschool program for 4-year old children, the Great Start Readiness program (GSRP), serves 38,213 students. This amounts to about half (51%) of children eligible for the program, and 8 out of 10 (80%) of participating students attend full day programs. GSRP’s success rate is clearly seen in the high school graduation rates of participating students – in 2012, over half (57%) of previous GSRP students graduated on time, while about 4 in 10 (42%) of students from the non-GRSP group did. This program is continuing to grow because of substantial investments from the state government.

Washington’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) stands out for the extensive, state-funded wraparound services it provides to pre-school students. ECEAP’s method of taking care of the “whole child” by providing services like food and medical care in addition to education has yielded impressive test score gains in both reading and math from pre-K through 5th grade. ECEAP preschool participants boosted their reading scores by 7% and their math scores by 6%, gains almost twice as large as other early childhood education systems that are considered to be effective programs.

Children’s librarians can help connect families to high quality state-funded preschool programs by making information about these programs available during library programs for families with young children. Librarians can also help pre-K educators reach out to state policymakers in order to collaborate and create successful early education systems.

Find the full report here to read more case studies, view research briefs, and chart packets.

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.


Civic Enterprises study finds that only 25% of homeless youth feel supported by their school

Homeless students

Image credit: Civic Enterprises and Hart Research Associates

A recent report by Civic Enterprises and Hart Research Associates focuses on student homelessness and the effect that it has on the students in school and throughout their lives. This report follows an announcement by the National Center for Homeless Education that the number of homeless students in the United States has doubled in the past decade to 1.3 million in 2013-2014.

The researchers for this report conducted both qualitative and quantitative research, primarily in-depth interviews and surveys, in order to provide a full picture of the impact that homelessness has on children in school.

Dealing with insecure housing had obvious impacts the lives of children, with a large majority (82%) of the formerly homeless youth surveyed saying that this instability had a big impact on their overall lives, including nearly three-quarters (72%) who said that homelessness negatively impacted their ability to feel safe and secure. Among these respondents, 6 in 10 (60%) also said that it was hard to stay in school while they were homeless and nearly 7 in 10 (68%) said that even if they able to get to school, it was hard to succeed. Despite these challenges, two-thirds of homeless youth (67% of respondents) said that they were uncomfortable talking about their housing situation with their peers and teachers at school out of fear of being bullied or being separated from their families.

While there are programs in place to help homeless students, just 1 in 4 (25%) of the youth surveyed thought that their schools did a good job helping students find housing, and over half (58%) thought that their schools should have done more to help. Schools are often a source of stability for homeless youth during an otherwise chaotic time, so school libraries can help these students by providing safe and consistent spaces for studying or doing homework. Librarians can also support these students by making resources readily available that can connect students and their families to organizations that will help them find housing, transportation, and other support that will help students thrive in school.

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.


Pew study finds that 97% of adult library users identify as lifelong learners


Image credit: Pew Research Center

Library visits help encourage learning in children, but what about in adults?

A Pew study has found that adults who use libraries are more likely to consider themselves to be “lifelong learners” – that is, actively pursuing learning opportunities and learning to embrace new technologies. These results came out of a larger report examining general lifelong learning habits among adults.

When presented with the statement “I think of myself as a lifelong learner,” a large majority (79%) of adults who had visited a library or bookmobile in that past year indicated that the statement describes them “very well.” The number of library users who consider themselves lifelong learners rounds out to nearly everyone in this group (97%) after adding in the 18% of respondents who thought the statement described them “somewhat well.” Comparatively, about 7 in 10 (69%) of those who have not used a library in the past year described themselves as lifelong learners.

This group of lifelong learners engages in learning pursuits at the library at a rate of about 1 in 5 (23%). Those most likely to use library resources to pursue their interests include women (27% of this group), those ages 65 and older (30% of this group), and those living in households earning less than $50,000 (29% of this group).

Library users are also more likely than non-library users to adopt and use technology to aid in personal learning pursuits. More than 9 in 10 (93%) library users regularly access the internet either from home or the library, and about  three-quarters (74%) of these adults report using social media.

For more information, you can find the full report here. You can also check out a previous LRS Number post about general trends in lifelong learning habits.

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 5212345...102030...Last »


  • 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.


See more @


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