In October, the Information Policy & Access Center at University of Maryland (iPAC) and the American Library Association (ALA) released the results and initial analysis from the 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey. iPAC has gathered statistics on public libraries and the Internet for 20 years, and this report highlights the sea change over that time. Of particular note, this survey looked more closely at the relationship between recent renovations or construction (within the past five years) and the ability of libraries to support a full and robust online life for all of a community’s residents—regardless of age, education, and socioeconomic status—by providing free access to public access technologies (hardware, software, high-speed Internet connectivity); a range of digital content; digital literacy services that assist individuals in navigating, understanding, evaluating, and creating content using a range of information and communications technologies; and programs and services around key community need areas such as health and wellness, education, employment and workforce development, and civic engagement.
Digital Inclusion Survey: Renovation Matters, Help Happens at Point of Need, and Staff Still Do (Almost) Everything
Mappamundi is the online web portal for the Global Middle Ages Project (GMAP) based out of the University of Texas at Austin (UT). It links to a series of Digital Humanities projects by scholars from around the world about people, places, and objects from the period of roughly 500-1500 CE. Although many people think of this period solely as the European “Dark Ages,” the project directors are interested in portraying a much more global picture. Many of the projects focus on areas outside of Europe and are interested in cultural exchange between peoples.
At Library Journal and School Library Journal’s October 14 virtual conference, The Digital Shift: Libraries Connecting Communities, “Always Watched: How Being Surveilled Online Impacts Us All and What Librarians Can Do About It” , attendees were reminded that government and commercial surveillance is an issue of increasing importance for libraries and users alike, and librarians need to consider issues of privacy more than ever.
Libraries may be going digital, but librarians still bring—and need—that personal touch. On October 14, Library Journal and School Library Journal’s virtual conference, The Digital Shift, Libraries Connecting Communities, aptly demonstrated this in a wide range of offerings throughout the day-long event.
We are pleased to announce the results of the eighth edition of the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service, sponsored by Baker & Taylor’s Bibliostat. The LJ Index is a measurement tool that compares U.S. public libraries with their spending peers based on four per capita output measures: circulation, library visits, program attendance, and public Internet computer use. Scores on the LJ Index are produced by measuring the relationships between each library’s statistics and the averages for its expenditure category. This year, there are 261 Star Libraries, 54 of which were not Star Libraries last year.
This year, 207 of 2014’s Star Libraries retain their Star status, though their numbers of Stars may have changed. There are also 54 new or returning Star Libraries—ones that were not Stars in last year’s rating. While the 54 new Star Libraries in 2015 represent the lowest number of additions since the Index first appeared in 2009, there was still plenty of movement among the three-, four-, and five-Star categories in 2015.
The 2015 Star Libraries are found in 41 states scattered across the country geographically. The top five states, ranked by their numbers of Star Libraries, are New York (39), Ohio (28), Illinois (19), Massachusetts (15), and Kansas (12). The top ten states are rounded out by a three-way tie for places six to eight shared by California, Iowa, and Texas (each with 11), Nebraska (9), and Maine (8). Like these top ten states, the remaining 30 Star Library states are spread across the nation and in every major geographical region.
In late July 2015, one of the coauthors of this article—Keith Curry Lance—participated in the inaugural Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) in Colorado Springs. During an “office hours” opportunity for participants to confer with RIPL speakers, a participant from Mississippi posed an interesting question: Given that there are no Star Libraries in our state, is there any appropriate use we can make of the LJ Index scores and data? The answer to that question is an enthusiastic yes!
This 2015 edition of the LJ Index is its eighth. The Institute of Museum & Library Services’ (IMLS) recently released FY13 Public Library Survey (PLS) data set, on which the LJ Index is based, contains for the first time data on circulation of electronic materials—primarily downloadable ebooks and audio and video files. We had hoped to be able to incorporate this new data into the LJ Index design this year, but that was not possible for several reasons. That change must be put off one more year. As the key obstacle, nonreports will be greatly diminished in the next data release (FY14 data in 2016), and we expect to make that change next time around.
A natural assumption upon learning that a library won Stars for the first time, won more or fewer Stars, or lost Star status is that that library’s per capita statistics for visits, circulation, public Internet terminal use, or program attendance must have changed dramatically. However, there are three sets of factors that can affect a library’s Star status, and two of them can apply even when there is no significant change in a library’s own statistics.