The Impact of School Libraries on Academic Achievement

School Libraries Matter: Views from the Research

We are honored to have co-authored a chapter with our founder, Keith Curry Lance, “The Impact of School Libraries on Academic Achievement,” in the new book School Libraries Matter. In addition to reviewing the school library research that LRS and RSL Research have conducted over the past two decades, the chapter also contains a 5-step improvement plan to use this research to improve school library programs, as well as an agenda for future research.

For more information about LRS’s school library impact studies, as well as a bibliography of school library research, see

National 2011 Public Library Data Files Now Available

The national Public Libraries Survey data for 2011 is now available on the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) web site:  The data files are available in csv, xls, flat (ascii) and SAS formats.  The FY 2011 PLS report will be released in the early fall 2013.

Massive spreadsheets not your cup of tea? IMLS also has a “Compare Public Libraries” tool that “allows users to compare one library (the library of interest) with similar libraries (the comparison group).” Compare Public Libraries tool:

Public libraries serve 96% of the U.S. population, or approximately 297.6 million people

Image credit: Justin Grimes

“There’s always that joke that there’s a Starbucks on every corner,” says Justin Grimes, a statistician with the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington. “But when you really think about it, there’s a public library wherever you go, whether it’s in New York City or some place in rural Montana. Very few communities are not touched by a public library.” To prove this point, Grimes created a map indicating public library locations nationally. There are approximately 17,000 public library outlets, including library branches and bookmobiles, across the U.S., outnumbering McDonald’s locations (14,000) and Starbucks (11,000). According to IMLS, libraries reach 96% of the U.S. population, a number drawn from the 297.6 million people served by a public library.

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.

Four in five parents say libraries are very important for their children, according to the Pew Research Center

iStockphoto - 7062388 - Story Time

A recent study of parents, children, libraries, and reading found that four in five (79%) parents of minor children (under age 18) stated that libraries were very important for their children. This number rose even higher for parents with children under the age of 6: 84% of these parents described libraries as very important. Nearly every parent in this study (97%) stated that it is important for libraries to offer programming for children and teens. According to parents, some of the top uses of the library by children were: book borrowing, work on school work, attend a library event, and use the internet. Other reasons for use included attending a library-sponsored book club and to socialize with friends. Additionally, parents of minor children are more likely to use library services than other adults. Parents attending the library with their children are also more likely to increase their own browsing, borrowing, and program attendance, as well as support innovation and advancement in the library. There are some library attendance differences among mothers and fathers, as well as some differences in use and opinion of the library among various economic backgrounds, however overall parents overwhelmingly agree that the library is an important place for their children.

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.

Attending ALA Annual? Here are the research & statistics sessions that are on our radar


Will you be attending ALA Annual? These are the research and statistics sessions that are on our radar:


8:30AM-4:00PM (preconference): Planning, Assessing, and Communicating Library Impact: Putting the Standards for Libraries of Higher Education into Action

9:00AM-3:00PM (preconference): International Statistics: Helping Library Users Understand the Global Community


8:30-9:30AM: Data-Driven Services: Library Research Roundtable Forum

8:30-10:00AM: From Outputs to Outcomes: Measuring What Matters

10:30-11:30AM: Ebook Data Evaluation through the Eyes of an Academic Librarian and a Public Librarian: A Tale of Two Libraries

10:30-11:30AM: Is it Worth it? Assessing Online Instruction

1:00-2:00PM: Research at Your Service: Latinos & Their Information Needs on Center Stage

1:00-2:30PM: 19th Annual Reference Research Forum

1:00-2:30PM: Mentorship Program Forum: Library Research Roundtable Initiative

3:00-4:00PM: The Census, Your Patrons, and the DataFerrett (hands-on workshop about using census data)

4:00-5:30PM: The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron


8:30-10:00AM: Do These Evaluation Statistics Mean Anything?

10:30-11:30AM: The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The Discussion Continues

10:30-11:30AM: Does Your Data Deliver for Decision Making? New Directions for Resource Sharing Assessment

1:00-2:30PM: New Pew Research: Libraries + Parents = Innovation and Success

1:00-2:30PM: Studying Ourselves: Libraries and the User Experience


10:30-11:30AM: Is This Trend a Library Friend? Understanding Current Analytical Measures

10:30-11:30AM: Measuring Up: Developing New Metrics for Assessing Library Performance

1:00-2:30PM: School Library Research

Nearly 80% of library stakeholders rated “library workers and leaders who embrace change” as being very important to the success of future libraries


Image credit: Summary of Stakeholder Engagement Survey Results, the Global Libraries Initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Recently, the Global Libraries Initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation surveyed more than 3,000 library stakeholders to solicit ideas on the role and key attributes of a future library and how the foundation could help encourage those attributes. Respondents ranked trained librarians and visionary, effective leadership as the two most important features of a future library. Characteristics deemed most important to the success of a future library included “library workers and leaders who embrace change” and “visionary, effective leadership.” Responses suggested the Gates Foundation should fund collaborative efforts among libraries and share results with the field in future support initiatives directed at public libraries. Find out more at WebJunction.

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.

36% of school librarians rated connecting young people to reading and lifelong learning as the top satisfaction of their jobs


Image Source: Mark Tuchman,

School Library Journal recently surveyed more than 1,000 school and public librarians to pinpoint sources of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction within the field. For both school and public librarians, connecting young people to reading and lifelong learning rated first for offering satisfaction with their jobs. Working with young people and matching a child/teen with the perfect book took spots 2 and 3 for both public and school librarians. At the same time, both types of librarians face challenges in having time to get everything done. Budgetary constraints and balancing increased demand with fewer resources are also shared concerns. Find out more about national job satisfaction trends at

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.

Measuring the Impact of Libraries


In the June 2013 issue of Computers in Libraries, Moe Hosseini-Ara and Rebecca Jones have an article, “Overcoming Our Habits and Learning to Measure Impact.” They highlight 5 issues that libraries struggle with when measuring impact:

1. Libraries do not set targets for their measures.

2. There’s not enough understanding of stakeholders’ value measures.

3. Measures are not viewed as an integral element of services or programs.

4. Value measures are not differentiated from operating measures; outcomes are confused with outputs, which confuses everyone.

5. There’s no clear responsibility for managing measures. 

Are you struggling with any of these issues when trying to measure the impact of your library? Check out the article for practical advice on how to tackle these issues and implement measures that effectively convey your library’s impact.


National Public Library Data Updated


The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently updated the “Search for Public Libraries” and “Compare Public Libraries” online tools with the FY2011 PLS unimputed data.

You can find a link to the tools from the PLS main web page at:

The Weekly Number: 425,000+ Coloradans increased their digital literacy skills through the BTOP project


The BTOP buzz continues! Recently wrapped, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) awarded more than $4 billion to 233 projects nationwide. ALA’s “U.S. Public Libraries and Broadband Technology Opportunities Program” report highlights state and local library BTOP projects across the country, which served about 20 percent of all U.S. public libraries. Nationally, programs funded by this initiative enhanced workforce centers and resources, broadband adoption, business development, community infrastructure, and digital literacy training opportunities. Colorado’s initiative focused on bridging the digital divide, and over the course of the 2-year grant period, more than 425,000 Coloradans increased their digital literacy skills by taking computer classes or receiving one-on-one instruction.

Want more details? Our evaluation of Colorado’s program is discussed in our Closer Look and Fast Facts reports, as well as in several presentations.

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

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  • 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.


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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.

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

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