Number of students in Colorado with severe reading deficiencies drops 2.7% since 2013

reading deficiencies_demographic

Image credit: Colorado Department of Education

According to a recent report by the Colorado Department of Education, the number of students with reading deficiencies has dropped since the Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ) Act was implemented in 2013. The READ Act was passed in 2012 with the goal of ensuring that every student in Colorado reaches reading proficiency by the end of third grade, a time that researchers have identified as a critical benchmark that often predicts academic success throughout school. Under this act, students identified as having a “severe reading deficiency” (SRD) receive intervention support until their teacher determines that the student is meeting reading expectations for their grade level.

In 2013, about 1 in 5 (16.5%) of K-3 students were identified as having a SRD. That number dropped to 14.4% in 2014, and even further to 13.8% in 2015, resulting in a 2.7% decrease in students having a SRD over the two years since the READ Act was implemented. This may not seem like a high percentage, but it equates to 6,059 students who are now less likely to struggle throughout school and are more likely to graduate high school than students with a SRD.

The numbers are even more impressive among students who remained in the same school district. Following the 2013 cohort of first-graders, those who had consistent support from the same district were more likely to catch up with their peers’ reading level; out of the 10,737 students identified as having a SRD, over half (54%) were reading at grade level by the time they reached third grade.

The full report contains a wealth of related information, including breakdowns of the data by region and demographic group. This information can be useful to school librarians to identify which students may need extra support with reading.

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.

Almost three-quarters of U.S. adults self-identify as lifelong learners, according to Pew


Image credit: Pew Internet

One of the strongest values of libraries of all types is that of lifelong learning. Pew Research Center’s new study of personal and professional attitudes about learning reveals some significant trends about how American adults pursue their interests. Nearly three-fourths (73%) of U.S. adults consider themselves lifelong learners in some sense, with 74% identifying as “personal learners” and 63% of working adults identifying as “professional learners.”

Somewhat surprisingly, physical locations are still more important to Americans than digital technologies for seeking knowledge. At 81%, personal learners are 29% more likely to say that they learn at a physical location more than online. Professional learners prefer physical environments by a similar margin as well.

The U.S. adults surveyed by Pew cited many important impacts that lifelong learning has had. The biggest impact experienced by personal learners was helping them to feel more capable and well rounded, with almost a whopping 9 out of 10 (87%) indicating this impact. For professional learners, two-thirds (65%) said that professional learning expanded their professional network.

What is perhaps one of the most important findings of the study is that whether or not one identifies as a lifelong learner is greatly influenced by education, income, and access to digital technologies. For example, an overwhelming majority (87%) of those with at least one college degree participated in personal learning activities in the past 12 months, whereas only 60% of those with a high school degree or less did the same. Pew found similar results based on income as well as having smartphones and home broadband connection. With this in mind, libraries are essential points of contact in the quest to bridge the digital divide and provide access to diverse learning opportunities for all members of a community.

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

Join us this Thursday 4/28 for our webinar “Count Your Impact: Getting Started with Outcome-Based Evaluation”


Are you wondering why everyone in the library world is talking about outcomes? Join us this Thursday, April 28, 12:00-1:00 MDT, for our webinar “Count Your Impact: Getting Started with Outcome-Based Evaluation,” and learn what all of the fuss is about. During our time together, you will gain a deeper understanding of what outcomes are, how to measure them (including an overview of several free and/or low-cost outcome survey tools), and how outcome-based evaluation results can be used for strategic decision-making and demonstrating the impact of your library. You can find out more information and access the online classroom via this link:

Study finds 7 school library characteristics linked to student achievement


Image credit: School Library Journal

School Library Journal recently reported on the newest statewide study on the impact of school libraries for student success, commissioned by the South Carolina Association of School Librarians (SCASL). While this now marks more than a dozen states that have conducted studies showing a link between school library programs and student achievement, this study was the first to show school library’s contribution through test results for specific English language arts (ELA) and writing standards.

In South Carolina in 2012-2013, 7 school library characteristics were linked to student achievement, even when controlling for factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, disability, and free or reduced meal eligibility. Those characteristics are: 1) library staffing, 2) total library expenditures, 3) librarian hours spent on teaching activities, 4) circulation of library materials, 5) size of collection, 6) availability of computers, and 7) number of group visits to the library.

While an increase in each of these areas was positively correlated with better test scores and strengths in standards that were available for this study, a few findings stood out above the rest. First, students saw the most benefits when their school librarian spent at least 20 hours a week collaborating with instructors on teaching activities. Second, although ebooks are not yet widespread in South Carolina school libraries (with a median of 40 titles), students at schools with larger print and ebook collections were more likely to show strengths on writing standards. This was especially true for poor students and students eligible for meal subsidy. Third, while all students were positively impacted by access to computers, this was especially true for males, Hispanics, those with limited English and eligibility for meal subsidy.

Based on this study and others like it, the trend is clear – school libraries and the librarians who lead them are making a difference in education.

You can get more information about other school library impact studies conducted in Colorado and across the county here. A more detailed report on the South Carolina study can also be found here.

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

We’re hiring!


You are fascinated by statistics. You are deeply passionate about libraries. You understand the importance of data-driven decision making, but most importantly, your driving motivation is to make data and evaluation accessible and useful to a wide variety of audiences, from frontline librarians to policymakers and stakeholders.

So, when your phone buzzed this morning to let you know that a new job was posted to, your heart skipped a beat when you saw five glorious words: Research…Analyst… Library…Research…Service.

The Research Analyst will lead a variety of research and evaluation efforts for and about libraries in Colorado and beyond – designing studies, analyzing the results, and presenting the findings in a variety of formats, ranging from scholarly journal articles to press releases. This person will also share her/his passion for data with the library community by providing training and professional development opportunities about evaluation in venues ranging from regional workshops to webinars to the national Research Institute for Public Libraries. The ideal candidate for this position…

  • Believes that evaluation can transform library practice
  • Has a strong background in statistical analysis, knowing which statistical methods are appropriate and how to correctly conduct data analysis using those methods
  • Has superior writing skills and can make research findings understandable to a broad spectrum of readers
  • Is an experienced trainer who can make data and evaluation topics accessible and interesting to lay audiences
  • BONUS: Has an eye for design and experience creating infographics

For more information and to apply, please see . The application deadline is April 27, 2016.

RIPL receives an IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Program Grant!


We are excited to announce that in partnership with the Colorado Library Consortium, we have received an IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Program Grant to fund our project “RIPL: The Second Wave.” During this three-year project, we will offer the Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) in Atlanta, Georgia; local/regional events in New York, Maine, Texas, and California; and one-day preconferences with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries and PLA Project Outcome. Part of the funds will be used to provide scholarships for librarians working in small and rural libraries to attend the events. In addition, we will create an online community of practice to extend the learning opportunities for RIPL alumni and anyone else interested in public library data and evaluation. You can view the official announcement here.

74% of U.S. public libraries saw increase in operating budget in 2015, LJ survey finds


Image credit: Library Journal

According to Library Journal’s latest budget survey, U.S. public libraries continue to recover from the recession, but the pace of that that recovery may be slowing somewhat. Of the 371 libraries that responded to the survey, nearly three-quarters (74%) reported an increase in operating budgets between 2014 and 2015, which is equivalent to the 73% last year who reported the same.

Public library fiscal gains and losses were not equal across the board, however. Similar to the findings from last year, larger libraries (with a few exceptions) tended to see larger increases in their operating, materials, and staffing budgets. Overall, materials budgets saw a 3.7% increase and salary budgets rose 4%. The smallest libraries saw the most meager growth in their funding, a factor that has prevented many libraries serving small towns and rural areas from investing in new technology, providing new programs, or increasing their staff size.

Large libraries, or those that serve more than one million people, have seen the biggest gains since the recession. The materials budgets of large libraries grew more than four times (6.3%) that of the smallest libraries (1.2%) in the past year, and the largest libraries were able to increase the amount of hours they were open. In addition to this, it appears the largest libraries have been able to expand at a much higher rate. While three-quarters of the smallest libraries reported no change in their staffing numbers in the past year, nearly four-fifths (79%) of libraries serving more than one million increased full time equivalent positions by an average of 31 people per system.

This looks pretty promising for the largest libraries (especially those in urban, Southern centers according to the survey), but the benefits of library services continue to be skewed to a particular segment of the population. For those in small towns and rural areas, a shortage of funding can mean that libraries must make difficult decisions, especially regarding technology and outreach, which may leave the populations they serve further behind.

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

Trends in U.S. Public Library Websites and Social Media


In 2008, we launched a longitudinal study to document the use of various web technologies (e.g., virtual reference, mobile friendliness, social networking, etc.) on the websites of public libraries throughout the U.S. The study was repeated in 2010, 2012, and 2014, expanding on the 2008 findings by tracking the trends in U.S. public libraries over time as well as by examining new technologies as they emerged. Our latest findings, from 2014, indicate that from 2012 to 2014, the percentage of library websites offering any type of mobile-friendly access increased, with the biggest change in libraries serving populations of under 10,000 (71% in 2014 vs. 17% in 2012). Mobile apps were offered by about 3 in 4 libraries serving 500,000+, and nearly 3 in 5 libraries serving under 10,000. About 2 in 5 libraries serving 500,000+ and 1 in 4 libraries serving 10,000-499,999 had websites with URLs that redirected to a mobile site when viewed on a mobile device. And, about 1 in 5 libraries (across all population sizes) had websites that used responsive design.

Find out more about our 2014 study in our Fast Facts reports summarizing highlights for both the U.S. and Colorado, as well as an expanded report that contains the study methodology and charts of all of the findings. And, stay tuned! In 2014, we expanded our study to include academic libraries. Those findings are coming soon.


Job postings on LibraryJobline have increased 188% since 2009


LibraryJobline, LRS’s website for library job postings and resources, saw its best year yet in 2015 in terms of jobs that were posted. In the latest Fast Facts Report, 656 total job postings were added to LibraryJobline last year, which is almost three times the number of job postings in LibaryJobline’s slowest year, 2009. More than two-thirds (68%) of those job postings were located in Colorado, and just over half (53%) of jobs were full-time, a slight decrease from the previous year.

Average librarian salaries are continuing to increase and surpass their recession levels, although significant progress is slow. Jobs not requiring an MLIS saw the biggest salary increase in 2015, up to $17.05 after hovering around $15.00 for the past several years. MLIS required ($24.80) and preferred ($22.37) saw slight decreases from the previous year, although they are both still well above the average starting salary for any year before 2014.

Subscriptions to the site continued to show healthy growth, with 546 new job seekers and 115 new employers added in 2015, and we sent 741,000 emails – the most ever in a single year!

Are you hiring at your library? In the library job market yourself? Sign up for Library Jobline as an employer or jobseeker. Jobseekers can tell us what jobs they’re interested in and get emails sent straight to their inbox whenever new posts meet their criteria. And employers can reach more than 4,000 jobseekers and more than 900 followers on Twitter @libraryjobline.

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

In EBSCO survey, nearly two-thirds of college students use library resources in their research


EBSCO has released an infographic that illustrates their findings from a 2015 survey of 208 students about how college students conduct research. The survey focused on general research trends, how students start research, as well as the research experience. The results indicate that while students are largely receiving library instruction and using library resources, they are often challenged by or are under-utilizing certain services.

For example, nearly three-quarters (72%) of students surveyed received library instruction in college, and while students often begin their research process with Google or Wikipedia, library resources are still the most popular for conducting research, with nearly two-thirds (64%) using resources found in the library. In addition to this, well over half (60%) of the survey respondents rate their own research skills as intermediate, although very few (7%) consider themselves an expert.

Yet, even as students see the merit in library resources, many may not consult a librarian in the research process. Despite the fact that 41% of students reported that evaluating sources was their main difficulty, over half (58%) of the students would turn to the professor first if they needed help on a project, while just under a third (32%) would go to a librarian. In addition to this, the survey results suggest that college students find online research tools difficult or inconvenient. About 2 in 5 (39%) found the library’s website “challenging.” They also overwhelmingly preferred the basic search rather than the advanced option, and the students surveyed did not understand the term “database.”

This survey reveals that college and university libraries are doing a good job of reaching students with instruction, and that students still value the resources that libraries have to offer. However, libraries serving college students need to continue to promote libraries and librarians as a first point of contact for information literacy help, and need to prioritize usability, especially as students increasingly conduct their research remotely.

This infographic is packed with useful findings, and you can soak it all in here.

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

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

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

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