The Impact of the Recession on Public Library Use in Colorado

LRS is excited to announce the release of our most recent Closer Look report, “The Impact of the Recession on Public Library Use in Colorado.” We examined Colorado public library use prior to and after the recession’s onset. Our findings indicated that from 2006 to 2007 (prior to the recession), visits per capita, circulation per capita, program attendance per 1,000 served, and Internet computer use per capita remained relatively static or decreased in Colorado public libraries.

In contrast, visits, circulation, and program attendance all increased during the recession (from 2007 to 2009) by at least 11 percent for libraries serving large communities (populations of 25,000 or more). Higher use during this period was also seen in resort communities. Visits, circulation, program attendance, and Internet computer use all increased by between 6 percent and 28 percent in public libraries serving these communities. Libraries serving small communities (populations under 25,000) were not included in the study because of missing and anomalous data.

Public libraries have been a key resource for Coloradans during both the recession and the post-recession recovery period, providing community gathering space, access to entertainment and educational resources, and information about job hunting, economizing, and other topics that are particularly relevant during this time.

Find the report as well as a Fast Facts highlighting key findings at


CO Public Library Technology Data Now Available

The Public Library Funding & Technology Access Survey has released state level data and you can find the Colorado report at: In addition, there are state briefs on E-Government and Employment in public libraries.

Public Libraries & the Internet:

Colorado School Library Salaries: Mixed News

Based on data collected by the Colorado Department of Education, the state’s school librarian/media consultants and assistants have seen notable increases in their salaries in the last five years. For the librarians, that increase has kept them in the ballpark with national salary averages for school librarians, but Colorado school library assistants continue to earn much less than the national average. Read more in the latest Fast Facts—Colorado School Library/Media Center Salaries: Mixed News.

Academic Libraries Survey Deadline Extended

The 2010 Academic Libraries Survey (ALS) deadline has been extended until March 18, 2011. The quality of this national survey depends on your library’s participation.  Please find the on-line questionnaire at  If you need your library’s user id and password, please contact the ALS Help Desk at 1-877-749-4925.

Why should you participate?
The U.S. Congress and your state government use data from this survey when considering policy changes concerning academic libraries. To produce valid results, the survey must obtain at least an 85 percent response rate – your survey counts!

The data from the ALS are used to produce on-line reports and supplemental tables for the National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education.  The Library Statistics Program web site at offers many resources for libraries, including the Compare Academic Libraries tool, which is an easy way to compare your library to other, similar libraries. The peer comparison tool is only available for libraries that respond to the survey.

Thank you for your cooperation and support of this national academic library survey.  If you have any questions about the survey, please contact survey administrators at

Reminder: School Library Survey Webinar this Thursday, February 17

The Library Research Service will be hosting a School Library Survey Webinar this Thursday, February 17, from 3:30 to 4:30 pm. The purpose of the webinar is to get feedback from school librarians about the annual Colorado school library survey—suggestions for improvements, changes, additions, deletions, etc.

To participate in the webinar, you will need an Internet connection for your computer and a separate phone line. Attendees will be able to communicate with each other both on the phone and via text chat.

Step 1: Access the meeting room online:   Please choose “Enter as a Guest” and type in your name when you log in.

Step 2: Upon entering the meeting room, you will see a pop-up form to Connect My Audio.  You have the option to “Dial-in to the conference,” or, to “Receive a call from the meeting (Dial-out).” If you choose to receive a call, be sure your phone is on the hook so the call can come through!

Note: if your phone line has an extension, please use the Dial-in option.  The call out option is automated and can’t handle an extension.

In advance of the meeting, please run through the connection test:

Please consider logging in to the meeting 5 – 10 minutes in advance to make sure we can troubleshoot any technical issues, and not take time away from our session to do so.

We encourage you to review the current school library survey prior to the meeting, so that you will be prepared to provide feedback, and to print a copy for use during the meeting so that you won’t have to toggle between windows on your computer. You can access it at

Questions? Contact Linda Hofschire at


School Library Survey Webinar on February 17

The Library Research Service will be hosting a School Library Survey Webinar on Thursday, February 17, from 3:30 to 4:30 pm. The purpose of the webinar is to get feedback from school librarians about the annual Colorado school library survey—suggestions for improvements, changes, additions, deletions, etc. To participate in the webinar, you will need access to the Internet as well as a separate phone line.

Interested in attending? Please email Linda Hofschire at to get information about how to access the webinar.

View the current school library survey at


The Power of Stories

It’s no secret that we like numbers here at LRS. Give us a rich data set and we will get lost in it for days. However, we also recognize the power of good stories to resonate with people on a deeper level than numbers often do. Take Olly Neal’s story, for example. In the late 1950s, Olly was a high school senior in Arkansas who liked to cut class and get in fights. One day, he was in the school library and noticed a book by African American author Frank Yerby. While it interested him, he was concerned that if anyone saw him checking it out, they would tell his friends he liked to read and then his reputation would be ruined. So, he hid the book under his jacket and walked out. After finishing the book, he returned to the library to sneak it back on the shelf, was pleasantly surprised to discover another Yerby title there, and snuck that one out as well. This process repeated itself several times over the course of the semester.

Thirteen years later, Olly ran into his school librarian while attending his high school reunion, and she told him she had spotted him when he “stole” his first Yerby book. Initially, she wondered why he was trying to smuggle the book out of the library when he could check it out for free. But soon she caught on to his motives, and decided to encourage his budding interest in reading any way she could. Unfortunately, the works of African American authors were not widely available during that time period, and neither the school library nor the other local libraries had additional Yerby titles. So, she drove to a library in Memphis to pick up another Yerby title for him to read. She repeated this process each time he took out a book. Olly credits his school librarian, and the extraordinary efforts she made on his behalf, with getting him interested in reading. This interest set him on a path that ultimately led to his acceptance to law school. Today, Olly is a judge for the 1st Judicial District in eastern Arkansas.

Listen to Olly tell this story here, courtesy of StoryCorps.

Do you have a story about how your library has impacted you or someone you know? Share it here.


PISA Survey Assesses Academic Achievement & Ranks Countries

Based on standardized testing, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey ranks countries and their success in educating K-12 students. We hear a lot about these rankings when they come out—I’ve heard/seen three news reports in the last week.

Here’s a wonderfully concise summary of what the PISA study measures and its findings:

See more on international findings here:

Or NCES for U.S. specific findings:

Challenged Materials in Colorado Public Libraries, 2009

Every year, LRS collects information from Colorado public libraries on challenges to their materials and services.  Nearly 1 in 5 libraries reported a total of 48 challenges in 2009, the lowest number in a decade.  For more details on the reasons for and results of those challenges, read our latest Fast Facts:  Challenged Materials in Colorado Public Libraries, 2009.

~ Jamie H.

Results from the 60-Second Survey: Privatization of Public Libraries

For the past month, library staff have weighed in on our survey about the privatization of public libraries.  More than 2,500 people from every state and 15 countries responded, making this our most popular 60-Second Survey yet.  The nearly 1,500 comments we received with additional thoughts on privatizing the management of public libraries made it even more clear that this is a topic of great interest to library professionals and other stakeholders.

Given an either-or choice, survey respondents overwhelmingly sided with public sector management, with 86% agreeing with a statement that management should remain in the public sector so that profit does not become libraries’ primary objective.  The other 14% agreed that management should be privatized if it means that libraries can do a better job of providing services and materials to patrons at lower costs.

Should management of public libraries be privatized if it means lowering costs, or remain in the public sector so that profit doesn’t become libraries’ primary objective?

Survey respondents identified whether they thought public or private sector management was more likely – or equally likely – to achieve a list of outcomes for public libraries.  Public sector management scored the highest, by far, on all factors but two:  reducing operating costs and making library operations more efficient.  In these areas, respondents were closely split among the three answer choices, with around 1 in 3 voting for each (the public sector, the private sector, or both as equally likely to achieve these outcomes).

What type of management is more likely to achieve the following outcomes in public libraries?

At least 3 in 4 respondents identified public sector management as the best way to improve the quality of library services, increase the relevance of libraries’ collections, employ qualified staff to meet community needs, and protect patron privacy.  Public sector management drew even more support – from nearly 9 out of 10 respondents (88%) – when they considered the library’s ability to serve all the members of its community and the strength of the library’s connection to the community it serves.

What type of management is more likely to achieve the following outcomes in public libraries?

More than half (53%) the respondents reported that a public library should be run like a public service rather than a business, but almost as many (42%) said it should be run like both.  Just 2 percent thought that a public library should be run like a business.

Should a public library be run like a public service or a business?

Eight in 10 (82%) respondents thought that privatization would have a negative impact on library staff’s job security and benefits or retirement plans.  While the majority (66%) thought the negative impact would also extend to job prospects for degreed librarians, a higher percentage were unsure of the potential impact (17%) or thought privatization would have no impact on job prospects (9%).

Stay tuned for a more in-depth report of survey results in an upcoming Fast Facts.  Until then, we’d love to hear your thoughts so far – please leave comments below!

~ Jamie H.

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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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