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Digest of Education Statistics: 2004
Digest of Education Statistics: 2004

NCES 2006-005
October 2005

Chapter 7: Libraries and Educational Technology

This chapter contains statistics on libraries and the use of information technologies. These data show the extent of America's public access to information technologies outside of formal classroom activities. The data also provide a capsule description of the magnitude and availability of library resources.

The first section of the chapter (tables 417 to 423) deals with public libraries, public and private school libraries, and college and university libraries. It contains data on collections, population served, staff, and expenditures. Table 421 provides institutional-level information for the largest college libraries in the country.

The second part of the chapter (tables 424 to 429) provides information on the availability and use of technology at school and at work. For example, the proportion of children using computers at school is shown over time. Also included are data on the use of home computers and the Internet by adults and school children, with comparisons among various demographic groups.

Related data may be found in other chapters of the Digest. For example, statistics on the number of degrees conferred in computer and information sciences and library sciences are in chapter 3. Further information on survey methodologies is in the Guide to Sources in the appendix and the publications cited in the source notes.


In 1999–2000, there were 95 school library visits each week per 100 public school students (table 417). Public elementary school students were more likely to visit their school libraries (107 visits per 100 students each week) than public secondary school students (73 per 100). There was no measurable difference detected between the number of visits per week at public and private schools. The average number of library staff per school was 1.9 at public schools and 1.2 at private schools. On average, public school libraries had smaller numbers of books on a per student basis (1,803 per 100) than private school libraries (2,857 per 100 students) in 1999–2000. Public elementary school libraries had larger holdings than public secondary schools on a per student basis (1,894 per 100 students, compared to 1,606 per 100 students), and elementary school students checked out more books on a per student basis (1.5 per week compared to 0.3 per week)

The increase in college library resources rose faster than enrollment between 1991–92 and 1999–2000 (table 420). The average library operating expenditure per student rose 6 percent in constant dollars from $431 in 1991–92 to $459 in 1999–2000.

In 2002, there were 9,137 public libraries in the United States with a total of 785 million books and serial volumes. The annual attendance per capita was 4.5, and the reference transactions per capita were 1.1 (table 423).


Educational Technology

There has been widespread introduction of computers into the schools in recent years. In 2003, the average public school contained 136 instructional computers (table 424). One important technological advance that has come to classrooms following the introduction of computers has been connections to the Internet. The proportion of instructional rooms with Internet access increased from 51 percent in 1998 to 93 percent in 2003 (figure 30). Nearly all schools had access to the Internet in 2003 (table 424).

The increasing number of computers in schools has been reflected in rising proportions of student using computers (table 428). The proportion of elementary and secondary school students using computers at school rose from 70 percent in 1997 to 83 percent in 2003. Students in elementary and secondary schools who were 10 years old or older were more likely to use computers at school than younger children. Eighty percent of children from families with incomes of $20,000 to $24,999 used computers at school compared to 86 percent of children from families with incomes of $75,000 or more.

In addition to large proportions of elementary and secondary students using computers at school, a majority of students in 2003 used computers at home, though fewer actually used them for school work (table 428). In 2003, 68 percent of elementary and secondary school students used computers at home, compared to 43 percent in 1997. During the same period of time, the proportion of students using computers at home for school work rose from 25 to 47 percent. In 2003, female students were slightly more likely to use computers at home for school work than males. About 54 percent of White elementary and secondary schools students used computers at home for school work in 2003 compared to 35 percent of Black students and 34 percent of Hispanic students. About 63 percent of students from families with an income of $75,000 or more used a computer at home for school work compared to 32 percent of students from families with incomes of $20,000 to $24,999.

The proportion of college students using computers in their classes rose from 63 percent in 1997 to 85 percent in 2003. About 76 percent used computers at home to do their school work in 2003 (table 428).

Computers are widely used in the workplace. In 2003, 56 percent of all workers used computers on the job (table 429). More frequent use of computers was associated with higher levels of education and higher incomes. Forty percent of high school graduates and 16 percent of high school dropouts used computers at work compared to 82 to 87 percent of those with bachelor’s, master's degrees, first-professional, or doctor’s degrees. Among the common applications for all employees using computers on the job were: Internet and email (75 percent), word processing/desktop publishing (68 percent), spreadsheets and data bases (64 percent), and calendar/schedule (57 percent).