Library Journal survey finds that public library circulation has dipped slightly (0.5%) for the first time since 1999

Image credit: Library Journal

Library Journal recently released the results of its annual materials survey tracking circulation statistics in public libraries nationwide.

Materials circulation in public libraries decreased by half a percent (0.5%) in 2018, falling, though only slightly, for the first time since 1999. Two in 5 (40%) survey respondents reported that they saw their circulation decrease. Nearly 3 in 5 (57%) items circulated in 2018 were books, 1 in 10 (9%) were ebooks, and about a third (31%) were other media like audiobooks, DVD/Blu-ray, music CDs, and streaming media. Book and ebook circulation both increased from 2017 to 2018, while netted media circulation decreased.

Like in previous years the majority of materials circulated were fiction (64%). Nonfiction made up a little over a third (36%) of items circulated. Half (51%) of items circulated were adult materials, 2 in 5 (41%) were children’s materials, and about 1 in 12 (8%) were items for young adults.

The fiction genres that respondents cited as their top 5 most popular print book circulators were mystery/suspense (95%), general fiction (81%), thrillers (72%), romance (63%), and Christian fiction (41%). The genre order changes slightly for ebook circulation – mystery/suspense is still the most popular (84%), but romance moves up to second (79%), thrillers remain in third (77%), and historical and literary fiction, not present in the print top five, are tied for fourth (both at 35%).

In print nonfiction, cooking reclaimed its top spot as the most popular circulator in 2018, with 4 in 5 (82%) respondents ranking it in their top 5. Rounding out the most popular print circulators were biography/memoir (74%), self-help/psychology (50%), history (48%), and medicine/health (40%). Like in the fiction rankings, nonfiction genre popularity changes for ebook circulation. Biography/memoir (89%), self-help/psychology (67%), and history (61%) are still popular, while cooking drops to 6th place (29%). Current events/politics (46%) and fitness/weight loss (33%) are more popular in ebook format than in print.

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.

University of California System opts out of more than $10 million contract with scholarly publisher Elsevier

The University of California System is made up of 10 schools and over 100 libraries, including several prestigious research universities, such as UC-Berkeley. Inside Higher Ed reports that the UC System “accounts for almost 10 percent of the research output of the United States.” And, Elsevier is an information and analytics company that distributes many prestigious academic journals, such as the Lancet, through their online databases including ScienceDirect and Scopus.

Many universities and academic libraries view providing access to scholarly journals through online databases as an essential service to promote research and scholarly communication. The open access movement has been growing, but authors are typically still required to pay an additional fee to have their article be open access. Elsevier’s pricing to publish open access ranges from $150-$5,000 per article. Since the UC-System is a large and research-driven system, the decision to break with Elsevier could potentially be the beginning of a larger change in scholarly publishing and access.

The UC-Elsevier Negotiating Team was made up of six members, including one university librarian. In an open statement, the team explained that the primary reasons for turning down the Elsevier contract were higher costs, reduced rights, limitation on institutional support for authors, and excluded journals. The Los Angeles Times reported than in addition to the high cost of the UC contract with Elsevier, the system was also negotiating to have “universal free access to articles written by UC researchers and professors.”

The UC-System is not alone in their decision. Inside Higher Ed recently reported that Norway joined Sweden and Germany in opting out of their contracts with Elsevier. Norway’s negotiating authority also wanted an agreement where they could freely publish their own research articles for public access.

To read the full Los Angeles Times article, click here.

To read the full Inside Higher Ed article 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.

CUNY Open Education Resource program saves students $9.5 million on textbook costs

In 2017, the City University of New York (CUNY) and State University of New York (SUNY) systems received funding to adopt Open Education Resources (OER) for many courses offered. This funding was awarded in response to librarian requests at both institutions and was adopted in 2,800 Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) courses impacting 76,000 students and resulting in $9.5 million saved on textbook costs. CUNY recently published the results of a survey their students to see what they thought about using the OER materials for their coursework.

The materials for ZTC classes were entirely digital which marks a change in the typical paper textbooks that students previously used for class. However, three-quarters (76%) of the students surveyed rated their ZTC materials easier to access than materials for prior courses. Out of these students, 4 in 10 (40%) cited the convenience of being able to use their ZTC materials anywhere, at any time, from any device as why they are easier to access. Almost a quarter (23%) said that all their materials being online or on Blackboard make them easier to access, and about 1 in 8 (12%) cited the fact that all the materials are free as why they are easier to access.

Using digital materials did not seem to impact students’ learning. One in five (20%) survey respondents accessed their ZTC course materials before the semester started, indicating high engagement with learning resources. Two-thirds (66%) of the respondents said that they feel they learn as well with digital materials as with print, and two-thirds (65%) also responded that they completed all of their readings for the course. Nearly all (95%) respondents said that they would recommend taking a ZTC course to other students.

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.

EdBuild finds a $23 billion funding gap between white and nonwhite school districts

Image credit: EdBuild

EdBuild, a research organization that promotes equity in public schools, recently released the results of their analysis of 2016 public school funding on the national and state levels. The purpose of the analysis was to examine this funding based on racial and socioeconomic characteristics.

They found that, despite decades of desegregation efforts, more than half of students still attend schools that are located in either predominantly white (26%) or predominantly nonwhite (27%) school districts. Nationwide, white school districts received $23 billion more in funding in 2016 than school districts that mostly served students of color. This means that the average white school district received $13,908 for every student, while nonwhite districts received $11,682 per student.

The racial divide becomes more apparent in racially concentrated high-poverty school districts. Of all the students in the U.S., 1 in 5 (20%) are enrolled in a high-poverty nonwhite school district, while only 1 in 20 (5%) are enrolled in a high-poverty white school district. High-poverty nonwhite districts tend to be larger than their white counterparts, serving an average of 10,500 students compared to an average of 1,500 students. There are 6 times more predominantly white school districts than nonwhite districts in the U.S., offering white districts more opportunity for funding advocacy in state legislatures.

Racial disparities also exist in our home state of Colorado. Nearly a third (31%) of students are enrolled in racially isolated school districts. About 1 in 10 (12%) Colorado students are enrolled in a high-poverty nonwhite district, while only 1% of students are enrolled in a white district with the same financial issues. On average, nonwhite districts have 16% less funding than white districts. This means that a Colorado student attending school in a high-poverty nonwhite district receives $2,770 less than a student in a high-poverty white district.

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.

United Kingdom anticipates 9 million lonely people by 2030 and intervenes with reading

The British government has been prioritizing addressing loneliness, including appointing a Minister of Loneliness. A recent report on social issues and reading, titled “A Society of Readers,” was produced by the non-profit The Reading Agency and the think-tank Demos. According to the report, in 2014 there were about 5 million people over the age of 60 lonely in the U.K., and they project that number will reach 9 million by 2030. In the U.S., there are currently about 47.8 million lonely adults over the age of 45, based on an Association of Retired Persons report. Currently, the overall size of the U.S. population is about five times the size of the United Kingdom. 

As part of addressing this challenge, libraries in the U.K. began supporting a new program called “Reading Friends” in June 2017. The program was developed by The Reading Agency with the goal to “empower, engage and connect older people who are vulnerable and isolated, people with dementia and [caregivers] by starting conversations through reading.”

The program works with libraries and other non-profits to match volunteers and members of the community to build relationships using reading. Groups and partners meet regularly to read together in libraries, assisted living facilities, and community centers. In 2017, the program reached 624 participants and included 104 volunteers. The evaluation of the first year found that 88% of the participants agreed that the program had “increased opportunities for social contact.” Eighty-eight percent of participants agreed or strongly agreed that the program “added purpose to their week.”   

The “Society of Readers” report also reviewed many studies on the relationship between aging, reading, loneliness, social isolation, and dementia–many of which found evidence that suggests that people who read fare better than their peers. This study on aging and leisure activities, including reading, and this study on cognitive activities and aging from a neurological perspective, may be of particular interest to the library community.

To read the full “Society of Readers” report, 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.

Pilot to Measure Social and Emotional Learning at Denver Public Library

By Hillary Estner, Katie Fox and Erin McLean

Why evaluate?

How can you measure relationship-building abilities? How can you understand which of your library’s programs best support users’ development of skills like problem-solving? How can you determine whether the youth who come to your library need help learning how to ask a question?

At Denver Public Library (DPL), we wanted to answer these questions, which address a vital set of skills called social and emotional learning, or SEL. A key goal of our public library, like many libraries, is to provide experiences that positively impact participant learning and growth. Particularly with our youth participants, we hoped that library programs fostered SEL, but we had not yet found a way to measure it.

In summer 2017, at the urging of the executive level of our library, we launched a pilot project to explore methods of evaluating youth outcomes from library summer programming, with a focus on SEL. We partnered with the Colorado State Library’s Library Research Service, and the three of us—a reference librarian, branch librarian, and research analyst—set out to measure SEL.

Who participated?

While we assessed several components of the library’s summer programming, here we will focus on a collaboration with the Denver Public Schools program, Summer Academy. DPS offers Summer Academy to students whose reading scores are below grade level and students in the English Language Acquisition program. Youth who were invited to Summer Academy were also invited to participate in the library programming. Library programming participants attended literacy instruction during the morning and two hours of library enrichment in the afternoons for four weeks.

Library programming participants were split into two groups based on age, with one group of youth entering first, second, and third grades in the fall and the other entering fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. For both classrooms, typically the youth had some unstructured time at the beginning of the library-led programming, which often was time playing outside or LEGO® free time. After that unstructured time, participants in the younger classroom had a choice of two structured activities which had a clearly defined end product. Participants in the older classroom had several self-directed activities they could choose from and often ended up designing their own projects that did not have a defined end result.  

How did the evaluation work?

We knew SEL would be challenging to measure, so we tried several strategies. Library instructors facilitated individual smiley face surveys about specific activities, youth created end of summer reflective projects to share their experience, and our team observed four days of the program, focusing on SEL behaviors.  Unfortunately, the smiley face surveys did not work because it was challenging to consistently administer them, and participants reported that every activity was fun and easy. Our observations indicated that these reports were not always accurate–we saw youth struggle and disengage at times. The youths’ responses to the reflection prompts were largely positive and vague.

It is very possible that the youth we were working with were too young to share an opinion that was not positive. For example, in response to reflection questions about what they liked and disliked about the program, one youth wrote “I liked everything,” and drew hearts. Another limitation of this assessment was that the participants, particularly the younger age group, were still developing their reading and writing abilities. While we tried to minimize this issue by using smiley faces for response categories, it was still a problem.

Observational rubric

The observational behavior rubric was the most challenging and fruitful component of our project. After reviewing the literature, we were not able to find a freely available observational behavior rubric focused on SEL, so we developed our own. We initially observed youth with some key social and emotional behaviors in mind, and through the process of coding these observations, we developed a coding scheme and observational rubric.  

To create our coding scheme and rubric, we first identified three key areas of SEL, according to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). We chose to focus on self-management, relationship skills, and decision making. We used a behavior rubric that the Logan School for Creative Learning generously shared with us as a model to get started.  

After our initial design, we tested and refined the rubric repeatedly so that we could code consistently.  For example, under the category of self-management, the rubric included both “dis-engagement” and “engagement.” Engagement included behaviors like listening, being on task, task-completion, observing peers or teachers, and being responsive to directions. The relationship skills category included behaviors like “kind comment,” “unkind comment,” and “friendly chatting with peers or instructor.” The responsible decision making category included behaviors like “letting someone else do it for you,” “pride in work,” and “helping peers.”

Ultimately, coding our observations yielded preliminary, but valuable, results which are being used to inform youth programming and staff training.  

Results

Of the thirty-three enrolled students, twenty-six were in the younger group and seven were in the older group. We received nineteen consent forms for the younger group and six for the older group. There was inconsistent attendance, so the amount of time we were able to observe each participant varied. We observed seventeen participants in the younger group, and five in the older group. Due to the small sample size for the older group, as well as the open-ended design of their program, we decided to only analyze the data for the younger group.

Through analyzing our observational data, we found that during certain activities we saw more youth showing specific social and emotional skills and behaviors. For example, during the complex activity of making a solar-powered toy bug, youth participants were more frequently engaged in positive problem-solving and decision-making than during the simpler activity of painting a tree and attaching buttons to make a “button tree.”

Youth also displayed the highest rates of positive relationship skills–such as friendly chatting and sharing–during slime and leaf imprint activities, which are both open-ended, exploratory activities (projects with multiple ways to successfully complete the task).  Participants also had the highest rate of positive self-management during these two activities. We saw an even higher percentage of positive relationship skills during unstructured activity time, often LEGO® time.

Our sample per activity was quite small (sometimes we observed as few as three students completing an activity), so we are cautious about drawing overarching conclusions. Nonetheless, these results yielded helpful information about which types of activities could provide environments that foster SEL, which can inform our design of programs tailored to SEL skills.  

Resources for libraries

We want the library community to benefit from our experience trying to measure SEL, and in particular we want to share our observational behavioral rubric as a free tool for organizations to use to conduct their own evaluation.  For a copy of our rubric, click here. You may use and modify the rubric as long as you cite us.  For more information about this project, please contact Katie Fox at Library Research Service.

Ithaka S+R report shows that ebook spending is rising in academic libraries, while print spending declines

Image credit: Ithaka S+R

Ithaka S+R recently published the results of their Library Acquisitions Patterns project, which examined purchasing trends in U.S. academic libraries. Their analysis focuses on print books, journals, and ebooks purchased at 124 participating academic institutions.

Total materials spending by the participating academic libraries rose by about 8% between 2014 and 2017 to over $313 million.  One-time resources (single books and ebooks) accounted for about 1 in 5 (16-21%) information materials purchased from 2014-2017, while ongoing materials like journals made up most of the remaining materials (70-76%). However, library spending is not rising as quickly as the prices for these materials – the average cost for an ongoing resource was well over a third (37%) higher in 2017 than in 2014.

Spending on print books declined by 12% during the four years tracked in this study, which was reflected to some extent in each disciplinary field. Spending on print books in STEM disciplines dropped by a quarter (25%), which was the most prominent reduction. Spending on print books in humanities and social sciences dropped by much less over the same period (7% and 8%, respectively).

Spending on ebooks rose by 9% from 2014-2017, although ebooks still only make up around 1% of total library materials spending. Ebook purchasing increased the most for social sciences materials (by 7%) and humanities materials (by 2%). Like with print book purchasing, ebook purchasing for STEM disciplines dropped by about 8% from 2014-2017.

GOBI Library Solutions was the largest vendor of print books and ebooks to the participating academic libraries during the time of the study, providing three-quarters (75%) of print books sales to the libraries by 2017. Amazon was the second largest vendor, hovering just below a tenth of libraries’ print book sales (8.2% in 2014 to 7.1% in 2017). GOBI was also the dominant vendor of ebooks to the libraries, providing 9 in 10 (90%) ebook sales. The next-largest ebook vendors to the participating libraries were Springer (1.8%) and ProQuest/Coutts (1.5%).

You can find the entire 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.

GAO report estimates that food insecurity is on the rise among college students

Image credit: Government Accountability Office

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report estimating the prevalence of food insecurity among college students in the United States. The report authors reviewed 31 studies to determine what is known about the extent of food insecurity on college campuses, and analyzed the most recent National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) data to estimate the number of college students at risk for food insecurity.

The studies that the GAO reviewed estimated that food insecurity could affect a wide range of college students – from 1 in 10 (9%) to over half (50%). Twenty-two of the 31 studies reviewed estimated that over a third (33%) of college students were experiencing food insecurity. Several studies estimated that students at 2-year colleges were more likely than those at 4-year institutions to be food insecure.

The report authors also identified risk factors that are commonly associated with food insecurity and analyzed NPSAS data to determine how common those risk factors are among undergraduate students. The seven risk factors identified are:

  • Having a low income
  • Being a first generation college student
  • Receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
  • Being a single parent
  • Being disabled
  • Being homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • Being a former foster youth

Having a low income was the most common risk factor and affected about 2 in 5 (39%) undergraduates. Three-quarters (75%) of low-income students also experienced additional risk factors – of the low-income students, about a third (31%) are first-generation college students, a third (31%) receive SNAP benefits, and a quarter (25%) are single parents. Risk factors were more prevalent among students attending two-year institutions than their counterparts attending 4-year institutions. The number of college students experiencing one or more risk factors has increased (from 28% to 39%) since 1996, meaning that more students are at risk of being food insecure.

Academic libraries, like public libraries, are well-positioned to help address food insecurity among college students. They can distribute information clarifying which students are eligible for SNAP (which can often be confusing), create library guides pointing students to research and resources, and set up displays with information about food resources on campus.

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.

Forty-eight percent of the next generation of American youth identify as a racial or ethnic minority

Image credit: Pew Research Center

The Pew Research Center recently analyzed U.S. Census data to learn more about the next generation of Americans, who are currently 6 to 21 years-old. This generation, referred to as the “post-Millennial” generation, is “the most racially and ethnically diverse generation” yet, with almost half (48%) identifying as a racial or ethnic minority.  In 1986, a little less than a third (30%) of Gen Xers identified as a racial or ethnic minority.

So far, post-Millennials who are 18 to 20 years-old are also graduating from high school and enrolling in secondary education at a higher rate than previous generations.  Among those who were not in high school in 2017, about six out of ten (59%) were enrolled in college.  In 1986, around four out of ten (44%) of Gen Xers were enrolled in college. In particular, the portion of Hispanic students enrolled in college is higher for the post-Millennial generation, with more than half of that group (55%) enrolled in college, compared to around one third (34%) in the Millennial generation.

The portion of young people who identify as Hispanic has also increased: one out of four (25%) post-Millennials identify as Hispanic, while 18% of Millennials identified as Hispanic. The proportion of black and Asian youth in the post-Millennial generation is similar to the Millennial generation.  While the post-Millennial generation is racially and ethnically diverse, the majority of individuals were born in the United States. Only 7% of post-Millennials were born outside of the U.S.

For academic, school, and public libraries, these demographic characteristics may be helpful for understanding how to best serve this generation, both now and in the future.  There are initiatives, like the Inclusive Internship Initiative, to recruit more inclusively for librarians.  In addition to increasing diversity among library staff, what services, programs, spaces, and collections will be most relevant, useful, and engaging to this generation? For the Latino community in particular, some examples of innovative outreach are the GENIAL Summit at the Exploratorium in San Francisco and the Latino Collection & Resource Center at San Antonio Public Library.  Public Libraries Online also shares ideas for strengthening community engagement with the Latino community here.

You can read the full Pew Research Center report on the post-Millennial generation 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.

AFL-CIO fact sheet indicates that a quarter of American librarians are union members

Image source: AFL-CIO

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Department for Professional Employees recently released a fact sheet exploring, among other topics, library staff in the workforce, issues of pay and pay equity, and librarian representation in unions. This fact sheet uses data from a variety of sources, but draws primarily from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Community Survey.

The report indicates that in 2017, there were approximately 194,000 degreed librarians, 40,000 library technicians, and 96,000 library assistants employed in libraries throughout the United States. The majority of librarians (3 in 5, or 60%) worked in academic or school libraries, while about a third (32%) worked in public libraries. The remaining 8% worked in special libraries.

The report shows that about 4 in 5 (79%) librarians were women in 2017. Despite making up the majority of the profession, women were still likely to be paid less than men working in similar positions. Among full-time librarians, women reported a median salary of $50,911 compared to $58,032 for men, meaning that women librarians earn about 88% of the salary of men in similar positions.

Library workers are included in a professional occupation group that also includes education and training workers. A third (34%) of workers in this group are in a union, the highest unionization rate for any professional occupation group. In 2017, about a quarter (26%) of librarians were union members, joined by about 1 in 5 library technicians (19%) and library assistants (22%). Both librarians and library assistants who were union members reported earning about a third (31%) more than their non-union counterparts did in 2017.

For more information, the full fact sheet 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.