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

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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

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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.

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

Pew_LifelongLearning

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”

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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: http://cslinsession.cvlsites.org/upcoming/count-your-impact-getting-started-with-outcome-based-evaluation/.

Study finds 7 school library characteristics linked to student achievement

SLJ_SC_ImpactStudy

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!

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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 LibraryJobline.org, 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 https://www.libraryjobline.org/job/5378/Research-Analyst . The application deadline is April 27, 2016.

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

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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.

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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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