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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 415 to 421) 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 419 provides institutional-level information for the 60 largest college libraries in the country.

The second part of the chapter (tables 422 to 427) provides information on the availability and use of technology at school, home, and 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 Appendix A: Guide to Sources and the publications cited in the table source notes.

The average number of library staff per school with a library was 1.8 at public schools in 2003–04 and 1.2 at private schools in 1999–2000 (table 415). On average, public school libraries had smaller numbers of books on a per student basis (1,803 per 100 students) than private school libraries (2,857 per 100 students) in 1999–2000. The number of books on a per student basis in public school libraries (1,891 per 100 students) in 2003–04 was not measurably different from the number in 1999–2000. In 2003–04, public elementary school libraries had larger holdings than public secondary school libraries on a per student basis (2,127 books per 100 students, compared to 1,376 books per 100 students).

Between 1991–92 and 1999–2000, the increase in college library resources was greater than the increase in enrollment; after adjustment for inflation, the library operating expenditure per student rose 6 percent during this period (table 418). Between 1999–2000 and 2001–02, library operating expenditures per student dropped 5 percent. Overall, there was a net increase of 1 percent in library operating expenditures per student between 1991–92 and 2001–02. In 2001–02, the average library operating expenditure per student was $460.

In 2004, there were 9,207 public libraries in the United States with a total of 805 million books and serial volumes. The annual number of visits per capita was 4.7, and the annual reference transactions per capita were 1.1 (table 421).

There has been widespread introduction of computers into the schools in recent years. In 2003, the average public school contained 136 instructional computers (table 422). 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 29). Nearly all schools had access to the Internet in 2003 (table 422).

The increasing number of computers in schools has coincided with rising proportions of students using computers (table 426). The proportion of elementary and secondary school students using computers at school rose from 70 percent in 1997 to 83 percent in 2003. In 2003, the use of computers at school by elementary and secondary school students varied by age and family income. Students in elementary and secondary schools who were 10 years old or older were more likely to use computers at school than children younger than 10. In general, elementary and secondary school students from higher income families were more likely to use computers at school than students from lower income families. For example, in 2003, 80 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.

Just as large proportions of elementary and secondary students used computers at school, so a majority of students in 2003 used computers at home (table 426). In 2003, 68 percent of elementary and secondary school students used computers at home, compared to 43 percent in 1997. Between 1997 and 2003, 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 (49 vs. 46 percent). About 54 percent of White elementary and secondary school students used computers at home for school work in 2003, compared to 35 percent of Black students and 34 percent of Hispanic students. Computer usage at home for school work was more likely among students from families with higher incomes than those from families with lower incomes. For instance, 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 at school rose from 63 percent in 1997 to 85 percent in 2003. About 76 percent used computers at home for school work in 2003 (table 426).

Computers are widely used in the workplace. In 2003, 56 percent of all workers used computers at work (table 427). More frequent use of computers at work was associated with higher levels of education and higher incomes. For example, 16 percent of high school dropouts and 40 percent of high school graduates used computers at work, compared to 82 to 87 percent of workers with bachelor's, master's, first-professional, or doctor's degrees. Among the common computer applications used by all employees using computers on the job were Internet and e-mail (75 percent), word processing/desktop publishing (68 percent), spreadsheets/databases (64 percent), and calendar/schedule (57 percent).