Digest of Education Statistics: 2011
Digest of Education Statistics: 2011

NCES 2012-001
May 2012

Chapter 7: Libraries and Educational Technology

This chapter contains statistics on libraries and adult education. These data provide a capsule description of the magnitude and availability of library resources as well as the extent of adults' involvement in educational activities other than postsecondary degree programs.

The first section of the chapter (tables 431 to 436) deals with elementary and secondary school libraries, college and university libraries, and public libraries. It contains data on collections, population served, staff, and expenditures. Table 435 provides institutional-level information for the 60 largest college libraries in the country.

The second section of the chapter (tables 437 to 439) provides information about adults' participation in various types of educational activities, including basic skills and General Educational Development (GED) classes, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, career-related classes, and personal-interest classes. Information on participation is shown for adults having various demographic characteristics and for adults living in different states.


Among public schools that had a library in 2007–08, the average number of library staff per school was 1.7, including 0.8 certified library/media specialists (table 431). 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 434). From 1999–2000 to 2007–08, library operating expenditures per FTE student dropped 14 percent. Overall, there was a net decrease of 9 percent in library operating expenditures per FTE student between 1991–92 and 2007–08. In 2007–08, the average library operating expenditure per FTE student was $492 in current dollars.

In 2009, there were 9,225 public libraries in the United States with a total of 816 million books and serial volumes (table 436). The annual number of visits per capita—that is, per resident of the areas served by the libraries—was 5.4, and the annual number of reference transactions per capita was 1.0.

Adult Education

The percentage of adults who reported participating in any adult education courses was higher in 2005 (44 percent) than in 1995 (40 percent) (table 439). Adults are defined here as people age 17 and over who are not enrolled in high school, and the same individual could report participating in multiple types of courses. In 2005, the highest percentage of adults participated in career- or job-related courses (27 percent), followed by personal-interest courses (21 percent). About 1 percent of adults participated in each of the following three types of adult education activities: basic skills/GED classes, ESL classes, and apprenticeship programs.

Among people age 17 and over who were employed, 39 percent participated in career- or job-related courses in 2005 (table 438). Participation rates varied for employees with different characteristics. For example, employed women's participation in career- or job-related courses was higher than that of employed men in 2005 (47 percent vs. 32 percent). For employees with some vocational or technical education, employees with some college (but no degree), and employees with an associate's or higher degree, rates of participation in career- or job-related courses were generally higher than for employees with less than high school completion or high school completion. For example, 53 percent of employees whose highest level of education was a bachelor's degree took such courses in 2005, compared with 25 percent of employees whose highest level was high school completion.