Category Archives: Articles and Information

Holiday Facts From the U.S. Census Bureau

See more from the U.S. Census Bureau

This festive season, or simply the holidays, is a time for gathering and celebrating with family and friends, gift-giving, reflection and thanks. To commemorate this time of year, the U.S. Census Bureau presents the following holiday-related facts and figures from its collection of statistics.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

$22.7 billion: The estimated retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2016. A decrease of $1.0 billion in retail sales from December of the previous year. (Monthly Retail Trade Survey)

19.7%: The estimated percentage for total sales in December 2016 for jewelry stores. (Monthly Retail Trade Survey)

18.9%: The December sales accounted for hobby, toy and game stores in 2016. (Monthly Retail Trade Survey)

$61.4 Billion: The estimated value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2016 — an increase of 9.8 percent from the previous year and the highest estimated total for any month last year. (Monthly Retail Trade Survey)

Where Toys Are Made

572: The number of locations nationwide that primarily produced dolls, toys and games in 2015, an increase of 12 locations from 2014 (560); they employed 6,394 workers in the pay period including March 12, an increase of 179 employees from 2014 (6,215). California led the nation with 90 establishments. (2015 County Business Patterns)

Holiday Names

Some names of places associated with the holiday season consist of a dozen places named Holly, including Mount Holly, N.C. (population 14,495), and Holly Springs, Miss. (7,682). There is Snowflake, Ariz. (5,764); Santa Claus, Ind. (2,463); North Pole, Alaska (2,232); Noel, Mo. (1,816); and — if you know about reindeer — Dasher, Ga. (979), and Rudolph, Wis. (430). There is also Unity, Ore. (68). (Vintage 2016 Population Estimates)

ALSC Guide to Serving Diverse Communities

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has compiled a list of resources, “Serving Diverse Communities,” to help librarians support children and families of diverse backgrounds. This document includes book and media lists, resources for media literacy, resources for vulnerable communities, statements and position papers, online courses and webinars, organizing guides, and more.

ALSC’s Core Values include Responsiveness, Inclusiveness, Integrity, and Respect. When many are feeling vulnerable, disenfranchised, or wary of what the future holds, librarians and ALSC members stand resolute in their commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion. This list, in no way exhaustive, provides some places to start. It is a living document, currently authored by ALSC committee members and curated by the ALSC Public Awareness Committee. In addition to the resources in the PDF, more may be found in this public Google document.

Pre-K Home Learning Environment Impacts Later Academic Performance

Reposted with permission from Library Research Service

A study recently published in Applied Developmental Science measured the connection between children’s home environments before kindergarten and children’s academic skills during their 5th grade year. The study found that “early home learning environments related to children’s academic skills up to 10 years later across all subgroups studied–White, Black, Hispanic, English-speaking, Hispanic Spanish-speaking” (13).

Children’s early learning environments predicted their academic skills the summer before they began kindergarten, and their academic skills at that time predicted their academic skills in 5th grade (12). The researchers concluded that “experiences parents provide their infants as early as the first year of life may solidify into patterns of engagement that will either continue to support or impede children’s emerging skills over time” (12).

The study included 2,204 mothers and their children from low-income and ethnically diverse backgrounds. Children’s home environments and their academic skills were assessed the summer before they began kindergarten and again during 5th grade. Home learning environments were measured based on “children’s participation in learning activities, the quality of mothers’ engagement with children, and the availability of learning materials in the home across children’s first five years of life” (3).

Children’s academic skills were measured using assessments of their vocabulary, literacy skills, math skills, and cognitive ability. In their analysis, the researchers controlled for other characteristics of families, like the mother’s education background, gender and firstborn status of the child in the study, race/ethnicity of the family, mother’s employment status, and if there was father figure living in the home.

Libraries are well-positioned to work with families in those critical years before their child enters kindergarten.  Libraries can support positive early home learning environments by sharing ideas for learning activities, modeling and supporting positive caregiver-child interactions, and providing free learning materials.

For more information, the full article can be found here.

Note: This post is part of the series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, the LRS highlights statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Courses in Budgeting, Using Mobile Devices Added to, the Public Library Association’s (PLA) website designed to help community members increase their digital literacy skills, has added two new beginner-level courses to its collection of tutorials. The learning modules are video-based with narration at a fourth-grade reading level. Each course takes between six and 22 minutes to complete. The lessons were designed to be taken independently, anywhere and anytime, by learners, but are also used by libraries and other community groups for one-on-one instruction and classroom teaching.

One new course was designed for first-time users of mobile devices running the Android operating system. The five-part learning module includes a basic overview of mobile devices and instruction on connecting devices to a network, using and adding apps, and maintaining data privacy and security. The second new course, Creating a Basic Budget with Microsoft Excel, guides learners through core budgeting concepts in the Excel software program such as creating a budget template, formatting data cells, and using formulas and functions. is just one tool PLA offers to help its members make their libraries digital literacy learning centers. The Association also offers continuing education on digital literacy training and a variety of professional tools for public librarians. For more information, please click here.

Advocate for Your Library With YALSA Toolkit

Want to be a more effective advocate  for your library? The Young Adult Library Services Association has created the YALSA Advocacy Toolkit to help. Although tailored for YA and school librarians, much of the content is applicable to any advocacy effort. Topics included in the table of contents are:

  • What is advocacy? (And how does it differ from lobbying?)
  • Everyday advocacy
  • Developing and delivering your message
  • Using web tools for advocacy
  • Building partnerships
  • Basics of national legislative advocacy
  • Meeting with elected officials
  • Talking points
  • Advocacy resources

Whether you are new to advocacy and need a place to start or are a practiced hand wanting to brush up on your skills, this toolkit can be a valuable resource. Download the free PDF.

YALSA Releases Teen Services Competencies

From the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)

YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff, which replaces Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth, is the latest resource developed to help graduate schools, library administrators, and library staff guarantee that all teens receive high quality service from their public and school libraries, regardless of whether the library has the capacity to dedicate a full-time position to serving teens. It is intended to set a foundation for the education and professional development of all library staff, regardless of job title, and to provide guidance for determining practitioner skills and knowledge. It is also meant to provide a framework to enable those within and outside the field to understand the unique role library staff can play in helping teens prepare for college, careers and life, and to communicate that role to others.

The 10 competencies are listed below.  Download the complete document for free.

  1. Teen Growth and Development
  2. Interactions with Teens
  3. Learning Environments (formal & informal)
  4. Learning Experiences (formal & informal)
  5. Youth Engagement and Leadership
  6. Community and Family Engagement
  7. Cultural Competency and Responsiveness
  8. Equity of Access
  9. Outcomes and Assessment
  10. Continuous Learning

Thanksgiving Facts from the U.S. Census Bureau

Where do you plan to eat Thanksgiving dinner? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, you have 118.9 million possibilities — the number of occupied housing units across the nation in the second quarter of 2017. (Source: Housing Vacancies and Homeownership, Table 8.)

Some of those tables may be crowded. There were 4.6 million multigenerational households, consisting of three or more generations, in the United States in 2016. (2016 American Community Survey, Table B11017 .) It will take a lot of food to feed that many — good thing we raise 244 million turkeys in this country (2016 forecast from USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.)

Four populated places are named after the day’s main course: Turkey Creek CDP, Arizona (2015 pop. 405), Turkey city, Texas (367); Turkey Creek village, Louisiana (357); and Turkey town, North Carolina (280). (2011-2015 American Community Survey.) Alas, none of them are in Wyoming, although Wyoming Places does list a Turkey Hollow as a land feature in Carbon County.

Find more Thanksgiving Day facts from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features.

Our reference librarians can help you find statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources. Contact or (307) 777-6333 for assistance.

Assistive Technology Apps for iOS and Chrome

Assistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. Many apps fall under this category. Wyoming Assistive Technology Resources (WATR), a program of the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities at the University of Wyoming, has put together this helpful list of apps for both iOS and Chrome OS (Chromebook):

 Available for both iOS and Chrome OS

  • Auto-corrects grammar, spelling errors
  • Suggests alternate text expressions
  • Dictionary, thesaurus, text-to-speech

  • Spelling and grammar checker
  • Corrects commonly confused words
  • Scans text for proper use of grammar

  • Unlimited storage: keeps saved articles and videos in one place
  • Reads articles aloud

  • Scans math problems for instant results
  • Includes camera caculator, handwriting recognition, and a smart calculator
Bookshare Web Reader

  • Online audio, digital, and BRF (Braille Ready Format) library for people with qualified print disabilities
  • Free for students with qualified print disabilities
Learning Ally Link

  • Online audio, digital, and BRF library for people with qualified print disabilities
BARD Mobile

  • Provides access to nearly 65,000 items from the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) site
Available for iOS

  • Scans, reads documents out loud
  • Can use without Internet connection
Voice Dream Reader

  • Reads documents using text-to-speech
  • Synchronizes with Bookshare, Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Drive
Claro PFD

  • Scans, reads documents out loud
  • Can fill in documents using microphone
  • Insert voice messages and pictures in documents
Available for Chrome OS
Google Text-to-Speech

  • Reads text on your screen out loud
Read & Write for Google Chrome

  • Spell checker, speech-to-text
  • Word prediction
  • Talking and picture dictionary
Google Keep

  • Organize your notes by adding labels
  • Add recurring reminders to never miss regular to-dos

Teen Literacies Toolkit from YALSA

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) has made a Teen Literacies Toolkit available as an online PDF. In this toolkit, they use the “fake news” phenomenon as an approach to addressing multiple literacies. The kit re-examines and discusses culturally-inclusive literacies strategies library staff can use with teens to help them make sense of their world and build a robust set of skills as they prepare to enter college or start careers. This resource was created by the Literacies Toolkit Resource Retreat Participants and was released in August, 2017.

Learn more and download the toolkit.

NMC Releases Digital Literacy Impact Study

The NMC has released the 2017 Digital Literacy Impact Study: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief to uncover the learner’s perspective of how digital literacy training influences work life after graduation. As a complement to the definitions and frameworks outlined in the NMC’s 2017 strategic brief on digital literacy in higher education, this new study examines digital literacy in action as learners enter the workforce. More than 700 recent graduates from 36 institutions responded to an NMC survey that addressed the experiences they gained at colleges and universities, and how their proficiencies or lack thereof have affected their careers.

The NMC’s study has identified areas for improvement for the higher education field to bolster digital literacy. Ultimately, the aim is for the research-based recommendations to guide higher education and industry stakeholders to better prepare postgraduates with the digital competencies required for future employment and career advancement.The 2017 Digital Literacy Impact Study: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief is available online, free of charge, and under a Creative Commons license to facilitate its widespread use, easy duplication, and broad distribution.