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.

Come work with us!

Come work with us!


Are you interested in joining the LRS team? We’re hiring for two positions:

Position #1: Research Analyst

Do you hold a firm belief that statistics are fascinating? Do you often find yourself diving deep into data analysis to find the meaning behind the numbers? Do you enjoy making complex research results accessible to a wide variety of audiences? If so, we have the job for you! The Colorado State Library’s Library Research Service (LRS) has an opening for the position of Research Analyst.

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, see The application deadline is March 4, 2016.

Position #2: Research Assistant

Do you have a strong opinion about the Oxford comma and singular “they”? Do you find yourself looking for the “real story” behind the numbers reported in the media? Are you intrigued by the popularity of infographics? Do you like a combination of collaborative and independent work? If so, we’ve got the job for you! The Colorado State Library’s Library Research Service (LRS) has an opening for the position of Research Assistant.

This person will collaborate with LRS colleagues to write about research findings for the library community, develop content for, and support evaluation projects. The ideal person for this opening is passionate about libraries, appreciates data and numbers, and is looking for a position that is part job, part discovery, and part learning. S/he is the type of person who knows…

  • how to write well, especially for non-experts and the web
  • why accurate data are so important
  • how to proofread and edit technical documents
  • how to provide excellent customer service
  • how to be part of a team and work independently
  • when to obsess about the small stuff and when to focus on the big picture
  • BONUS: experience or interest in data visualization

For more information and to apply, see The application deadline is March 4, 2016.

Despite intentions, only 25% of community college students transfer to a bachelor’s program within 5 years, according to the Community College Research Center


Image credit: Community College Research Center

The Community College Research Center conducts research on a wide variety of issues affecting two-year colleges nationwide. As a route to higher education for well over a third (40%) of undergraduates in the U.S., community colleges are for many an important gateway to improved opportunities and earning potential. Their current research about student completion and transfer rates reveals a couple of interesting trends concerning students’ pathways through postsecondary education.

For example, although 80% of students who enter community college intend to transfer to a four-year program in order to complete a bachelor’s degree, only a quarter (25%) of them actually transfer within 5 years of starting school. In addition to this, while nearly three-quarters (72%) of transfers end up in public institutions, a disproportionate amount of minorities (Black and Hispanic) and under-performing students end up in for-profit colleges when they transfer, and are less likely to complete their bachelor’s degree.

A finding that may come as surprising is that it’s not the increased rigor and expectations of four-year programs that is the primary reason causing transfer students to stall, but rather the loss of credits due to transferring. With all of this said, the students who do transfer successfully reap pretty significant rewards, saving significant amounts of money on their lower division coursework and seeing essentially the same income benefits as four-year institution natives.

Since community colleges are such significant gateways to higher education for a large proportion of the country’s population, and especially the underserved, libraries at two-year institutions represent important points of contact that can help students gain the skills they need to achieve a degree, and the knowledge necessary for successful transfer. Additionally, libraries at four-year institutions should be aware of the difficulties transfers face, and should strive to meet the unique needs of this group.

You can read the full report on college transfer students here, and find other current projects from the Community College Research Center 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.

Lack of diverse books is mirrored by a publishing industry that is 79% white, according to the Diversity Baseline Survey


Image Credit: Lee & Low Books

Many industries, libraries included, are trying to find ways to increase and promote diversity, but as it turns out the source of much of our information may also have natural bias. In 2015 Lee & Low Books conducted a Diversity Baseline Survey in order to better assess what diversity existed in the book review and publishing industries. The voluntary survey was sent to 13,237 people (with a 26% response rate) across 8 review journals and 34 publishing firms.

In 2014 the Cooperative Children’s Book Center found that just 2% of children’s books were by Black/African American authors, and over the past 20 years the number of diverse books published yearly has hardly budged above 10%. With this in mind, the Diversity Baseline Survey is quite revealing.

Nearly four-fifths (79%) of publishing and review journal staff self-identify as white. In the industry overall, the respondents also largely identify their gender as Female (78%), their orientation as heterosexual (88%), and their disability status as “Not differently able” (92%). These general findings about diversity are consistent across the board for all position types, except that men are twice as likely to be at the executive level (40%) than the average for the industry.

So how might these findings be useful for libraries? For starters, when it comes to collection development in public libraries, purchasing a little bit of everything that is available may not be enough. In order for diversity initiatives to be effective, they must include conscious efforts not only to have staff and librarians with diverse backgrounds, but also to ensure that collections are actually reflective of the communities that the libraries are a part of. Even more broadly, though, the study confirms a growing awareness of industries whose demographics do not reflect the U.S. population at large, and how this might hinder efforts to build a culture that is more inclusive and representative.

You can see all of the Diversity Baseline Survey’s findings 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.

Study published in C&RL indicates 3 information literacy skills are the most important to employers: innovation, critical thinking, and collaboration


We know now that strong information literacy skills are very important in both the academic and work environments. In a new study published in College & Research Libraries, Victoria Raish and Emily Rimlaud seek, through a nation-wide survey of employers, to find out employers’ perceptions of critical information skills and their potential acceptance of a new technological measure of student skills, called digital badges.

Digital badges, as described by the authors, are a digital representation of an ability gained that “certifies skills at a more granular level.” The authors argue that this method of representing accumulated knowledge of various literacy skills could prevent the uneven nature of “one-shot” instruction provided by professors or librarians by establishing core competencies and identifying gaps.

The survey asked participants to rate a variety of critical information literacy skills from the employer perspective. It was found that three sets of skills had a statistically significant difference from the others, and were thus deemed the most important to employers. These were innovation, critical thinking and using quality information, and collaboration. In addition to this, nearly a quarter (24%) of employers indicated that grades and GPA do not correlate with preparedness for the workplace.

Universities and academic libraries in particular need to ensure that their information literacy curriculum at least closely matches the most common expectations students will meet when entering the workforce. This survey indicates some important areas of emphasis, as well as the potential that digital badges might offer for student success. Over one-third (33%) of participants said that digital badges would definitely be useful when evaluating applicants, and nearly the whole remainder (62%) said they might be useful, but needed to learn more. However these skills are represented, every indicator suggests that information literacy instruction needs to become a core function of higher education, not peripheral training.

To learn more about the survey, current findings about information literacy instruction in higher education, and how digital badges can serve as a new measure for student skill, interest, and ability, read the study in full 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.


American Libraries covers LRS session at ALA Midwinter


LRS staff enjoyed presenting “Data Visualization for the Rest of Us: A Beginner’s Guide” at ALA Midwinter. This was an encore presentation from the 2015 Research Institute for Public Libraries. Check out American Libraries’ coverage of the presentation to learn how we got started with data visualization as well as our tips for making numbers and charts more accessible.

And, don’t forget – registration for the 2016 Research Institute for Public Libraries opens January 26, 2016!

65% of Overdrive survey respondents say they visit a library in person or online at least once per week


Image credit: Overdrive

The ebook and audiobook platform Overdrive recently released results from a survey of public library website users that investigated their preferences and use of library resources, in particular print and digital books. More than 16,000 respondents shared their opinions and behaviors to shed light on how public libraries are meeting these users’ needs.

More than 2 in 5 (43%) of respondents reported visiting the library—either in person or online—more than once per week, with a total of 65% saying they visit at least once per week. Of course this survey polled those who were already at a library’s website, so this skews higher compared to broader surveys we’ve shared before (such as those from Pew Research).

Interestingly, respondents split 50-50 on whether they visit the library (again, in person or online) with a particular title in mind or without a title in mind. Split about a third each, respondents said they’d be willing to wait “as long as necessary” for a title (34%) or up to a month (32%). Perhaps most helpful to libraries is that if users are not willing to wait for a title, a majority (65%) said they wouldn’t buy the book instead. Users seem to understand the nature of library collections and that waiting is part of the process.

Respondents also shared their typical methods of discovering both physical and digital books. More than half (53%) said they only found books in a digital setting while 16% only found books in a library or bookstore (physical setting). About a third (31%) relied on both digital and in-person options to find books.

Learn more about how Overdrive’s survey respondents reading and library habits with the full report 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.

98% of CTBL survey respondents rate their satisfaction with CTBL services as “excellent” or “good”


The results are in for the 2014 Colorado Talking Book Library (CTBL) Patron Satisfaction Survey, which seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the library and overall satisfaction with its services. Highlights from the survey are detailed in our new Fast Facts report and previously published Closer Look reportCTBL provides free library services, including recorded books, Braille materials, large print books, and descriptive videos, to Coloradans of all ages who are unable to read standard print because of physical, visual, or learning disabilities.

Out of 6,500 active individual patrons, CTBL distributed the survey to an age-stratified sample of 1,733 patrons, and received 454 responses. The majority of respondents (60%) are over the age of 60, and more than a third (36%) have at least a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The survey reveals that the most common method of communication with CTBL is the phone, with three-fourths of respondents (74%) communicating this way, and a third (32%) of respondents communicating with the library approximately every 6 months. This lack of regular and face-to-face communication suggests not that patrons are dissatisfied with CTBL, but rather that they are pleased with the library’s current services. In fact, almost all (98%) of the survey respondents indicate their satisfaction with CTBL as “excellent” or “good,” and the service components rated most highly by respondents (all rated above 90% “excellent” and “good” combined) are the courtesy of library staff, the completeness and condition of books  received by patrons, the ease of contacting CTBL, the quality of the playback machine provided by CTBL, and the speed with which books are delivered to patrons.

The results obtained from this survey were consistent with the results gathered from past surveys conducted every 18 months since 2004.

Read the full 2014 CTBL Patron Satisfaction Survey report 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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Public Library Survey Compare Tool re-released to the public

PLS compare tool

For all your public library data needs as we wind down 2015, check out the newly re-released Public Library Survey (PLS) Compare Tool from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and its national Public Library Survey. The tool features data from about 9,000 public libraries in the United States and territories. The most recent available data is from Fiscal Year 2013.

The tool is handy for looking at other libraries based on variables and comparisons you select. You can also choose specific public libraries you’d like to compare if you’re looking to do some benchmarking.

Find all of IMLS’s public library data tools at

LJ Financial Literacy Survey suggests over half of library cardholders would attend financial literacy training (if they knew about it)


Image credit: Library Journal

As the variety of program topics increases in public libraries, financial literacy training has emerged as a common topic in many libraries, especially since the recession. Financial literacy training seeks to educate and provide strategies about how to manage one’s money and prepare for financial planning. Yet Library Journal’s 2015 Financial Literacy Survey suggests that these services are not being used by cardholders as much as they could be.

Out of 10 options, libraries ranked last as a source of financial information among the 1,466 library cardholders surveyed across 230 libraries. Just under one-fifth (18%) of those surveyed ranked it as a possible source, even though well over half (61%) of librarians surveyed said that they offered financial services.

Library Journal proposes that the biggest challenge to public libraries is actually getting the word out about financial literacy training, since their survey indicated that more people would likely attend these events if only they knew about them. More than half (55%) of those surveyed said they would be willing to attend financial programming if they knew about it, and in addition to that an overwhelming majority (87%) said they trust financial information they receive from public libraries.

The good news is that any public library can create financial literacy programming that is both inexpensive and appeals to patrons. One librarian surveyed was able to put on a week-long programming event for just $200. The survey also found that programming that integrated financial training for children saw higher attendance, a proactive strategy that helps to develop financial literacy early on in life while also opening up conversation among adults.

Get ideas for how your public library can jump-start its financial literacy programming, and read the full report, 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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