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 419 to 424) deals with public libraries, elementary and secondary school libraries, and college and university libraries. It contains data on collections, population served, staff, and expenditures. table 423 provides institutional-level information for the 60 largest college libraries in the country.
The second part of the chapter (tables 425 to 430) provides information on the availability and use of technology at school, home, and work. For example, the percentage 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 in the publications cited in the table source notes.
The average number of library staff per public school with a library was 1.7 in 2007–08, including 0.8 certified library/media specialists (table 419). On average, public school libraries had larger numbers of books on a per student basis in 2007–08 (2,015 per 100 students) than in 1999–2000 (1,803 per 100 students) and 2003–04 (1,891 per 100 students). In 2007–08, public elementary school libraries had larger holdings than public secondary school libraries on a per student basis (2,316 books per 100 students, compared to 1,432 books per 100 students).
From 1991–92 to 1999–2000, the increase in college library operating expenditures was greater than the increase in enrollment; after adjustment for inflation, library operating expenditures per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student rose 6 percent during this period (table 422). From 1999–2000 to 2005–06, library operating expenditures per FTE student dropped 12 percent. Overall, there was a net decrease of 7 percent in library operating expenditures per FTE student between 1991–92 and 2005–06. In 2005–06, the average library operating expenditure per FTE student was $472.
In 2007, there were 9,214 public libraries in the United States with a total of 812 million books and serial volumes. The annual number of visits per capita was 4.9, and the annual reference transactions per capita were 1.0 (table 424).
Computers and Technology
In 2005, the average public school contained 154 instructional computers (table 425). One important technological advance that has come to classrooms following the introduction of computers has been connections to the Internet. The percentage of instructional rooms with internet access increased from 51 percent in 1998 to 94 percent in 2005 (figure 29). Nearly all schools had access to the Internet in 2005 (table 425).
The increasing number of computers in schools has coincided with rising percentages of students using computers (table 429). The percentage 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. Among students in elementary and secondary schools, a higher percentage of those age 10 or older than of those younger than 10 used computers at school. In general, a greater percentage of elementary and secondary school students from higher income families than of students from lower income families used computers at school. For example, in 2003, about 80 percent of students from families with incomes of $20,000 to $24,999 used computers at school, compared to 86 percent of students from families with incomes of $75,000 or more.
A majority of students in 2003 used computers at home (table 429). In 2003, about 68 percent of elementary and secondary school students used computers at home, compared to 43 percent in 1997. From 1997 to 2003, the percentage of students using computers at home for school work rose from 25 to 47 percent. In 2003, a higher percentage of females than males used computers at home for school work (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. A greater percentage of students from higher income families than of students from lower income families reported using computers at home for school work. For instance, 63 percent of students from families with incomes 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 percentage 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 429).
Computers are widely used in the workplace. In 2003, about 56 percent of all workers used computers at work (table 430). 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/e-mail (75 percent), word processing/desktop publishing (68 percent), spreadsheets/databases (64 percent), and calendar/schedule (57 percent).