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Digest of Education Statistics: 2015
Digest of Education Statistics: 2015

NCES 2016-014
December 2016

Chapter 7: Libraries and Internet Use

This chapter presents statistics on elementary and secondary school libraries, college and university libraries (including institution-level information for the 60 largest college libraries in the country), and public libraries. It contains data on library collections, staff, and expenditures, as well as library usage. The chapter ends with a table on internet usage among persons of various racial/ethnic groups, age groups, educational attainment levels, and income levels. Tables on the use of technology and distance education in elementary and secondary schools and in postsecondary institutions can be found in chapters 2 and 3.

Libraries

Among public schools that had a library in 2011–12, the average number of library staff per school was 1.8, including 0.9 certified library/media specialists (table 701.10). On average, public school libraries had larger numbers of books on a per student basis in 2011–12 (2,188 per 100 students) than in 1999–2000 (1,803 per 100 students), 2003–04 (1,891 per 100 students), and 2007–08 (2,015 per 100 students). In 2011–12, public elementary school libraries had larger holdings than public secondary school libraries on a per student basis (2,570 books per 100 students, compared with 1,474 books per 100 students).

At degree-granting postsecondary institutions, library operating expenditures per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student were 1 percent higher in 2001–02 than in 1991–92, after adjustment for inflation (table 701.40). From 2001–02 to 2011–12, library operating expenditures per FTE student dropped by 25 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. Overall, there was a net decrease of 24 percent in library operating expenditures per FTE student between 1991–92 and 2011–12. In 2011–12, library operating expenditures per FTE student averaged $441 (in current dollars) across all degree-granting institutions. The amount varied widely by institution control, however. Library operating expenditures averaged $372 per FTE student attending a public institution in 2011–12, compared with $844 per FTE student attending a private nonprofit institution and $78 per FTE student attending a private for-profit institution. In 2011–12, the average number of volumes (including books, bound periodicals, and other print materials) per FTE student also differed for public institutions (61 volumes), private nonprofit institutions (128 volumes), and private for-profit institutions (4 volumes). Across all degree-granting institutions, the average number of volumes per FTE student in 2011–12 was 69, which was 4 percent less than in 1991–92. The calculations of library operating expenditures and number of volumes per FTE student include both institutions with libraries and those without libraries. In 2011–12, there were libraries at 81 percent of degree-granting institutions overall, 95 percent of public institutions, 88 percent of private nonprofit institutions, and 55 percent of private for-profit institutions.

In 2013, there were 9,091 public libraries in the United States with a total of 775 million books and serial volumes (table 701.60). The annual number of visits per capita—that is, per resident of the areas served by the libraries—was 4.8, the annual number of reference transactions per capita was 0.9, and the annual number of uses of public-access internet computers per capita was 1.1.

Computer and Internet Use

In 2013, 71 percent of the U.S. population age 3 and over used the Internet (table 702.10). Comparing the White, Black, and Hispanic populations age 3 and over, the percentage of internet users was highest among Whites (75 percent), followed by Blacks (64 percent), and then Hispanics (61 percent). The percentage of internet users in the population age 3 and over was generally higher for those with higher family income levels. For example, 72 percent of people with family incomes from $40,000 to $49,999 used the Internet, compared to 85 percent of people with family incomes of $100,000 or more. Among persons age 25 and over, the percentage of internet users tended to be higher for those with higher levels of educational attainment. For example, 54 percent of persons who had not completed high school used the Internet, compared with 64 percent of those who had completed only a high school diploma or equivalent and 89 percent of those with a bachelor's or higher degree.

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