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Ontario Public Library Statistics and Talking Points

In my role at FOPL we have assembled the following stats and talking points that member libraries may find helpful in talking about public libraries in Ontario.  We’ve got a lot more data but here are a few:

Ontarians have voted with their library cards and passionate support for public libraries continues to grow in the digital age.

The Federation of Ontario Public Libraries represents Ontario’s over 300 public library systems exceeding 1,100 branches in virtually every Ontario community. Over 5 million Ontario residents make hundreds of millions of visits to the library, in person and virtually, every year.  Libraries are trusted, accessible community hubs providing freely accessible professional service, technology, programs, and resources to a more diverse range of residents than any other cultural institution.

  • Ontario’s Public Library Systems serve over 98% of Ontarians.
  • Over 5.1 million Ontarians have an active library membership card. The number of Ontarians with library cards grows every year a true measure of public support.
  • Ontario’s over 10,000 library workers engage over 17,000 volunteers – especially high schoolers meeting their volunteer hour commitments.
  • Ontario has over 307 library systems with over 1100 service points and 11,000+ public access computer workstations.
  • Ontarians borrowed almost 132 million items in 2012 or over 10 items for every Ontario resident. They asked over 7.4 million research questions.  Ontario’s libraries create unfettered access to these collections for $4.33 per capita – great value for money!
  • Ontario’s public libraries provide millions of dollars of high quality electronic resources, databases and e-books for just over $1 per Ontarian! Nearly every Ontario library system has multiple presences on the web including their website and social media presences that provide 24/7/365 access to many of the library’s resources.
  • Ontarians made over 75 million in-person visits to the library in 2012 and almost 3.5 million Ontarians attended library programs from children’s story hours, to job finding classes to technology training. Public libraries delivered over 186 thousand of these popular programs.
  • Over 50% of Ontarians visited a public library last year.
  • Only 37% of Ontario’s First Nation communities have a library and those are open fewer hours than other communities.
  • A recent Dec. 2012 study by the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute for the Toronto Public Library discovered that:
    • Toronto Public Library delivers $5.63 of economic impact for Every $1 spent
    • Toronto Public Library creates over $1 billion in total economic impact.
    • For every dollar invested in Toronto Public Library (TPL), Torontonians receive $5.63 in benefits – The return from the City of Toronto’s investment in the Toronto Public Library is 463%, which is the midpoint of a range very conservatively estimated to be 244% and is comfortably shown to reach 681%.
    • For the 72% of Torontonians who use library services, the total direct benefit is as much as $500 ($502.15) per library member.
    • The average open hour at a TPL branch generates $2,515 in direct benefits. The average benefit is almost 4 times the average cost.
  • Milton Public Library replicated parts of the MPI study in 2014 in their smaller community and discovered that:
    • MPL creates nearly $30 million in total economic impact.
    • This economic impact equates to $930.00 per household or $312.00 per capita.
    • Investing in MPL results in a return on investment of 467% for the Town of Milton.
    • The value of a library membership is $600/year.
    • MPL generates over $3,000 in direct benefits for every hour it is open.
    • MPL generates many more intangible benefits offered through community partnerships.
  • The most recent (2013) OMBI (Ontario Municipal CAO’s Benchmarking Initiative) noted that:
    • There were over 30 uses per capita and up to 16 electronic uses per capita for the communities participating in the study.
    • The communities’ collections contained 2.6 items per capita.
    • Each individual use of the library by a resident was a tiny $1.57 to $2.43 per use.

Some fun facts from OCLC Research (just urban sample):

  • Canadians visit the library almost as much as we go to the movies and 20 times more often than we attend Canadian NHL games each year.
  • Nearly two out of three Canadians have library cards—about as many as have passports.
  • Canadians borrow twice as many books from libraries as we buy from bookstores; although there are almost a third fewer libraries than bookstores in the country.
  • Canadians go to libraries to find jobs, create new careers and help grow our small businesses. We borrow books, journals, music and movies. We learn to use the latest technology. We get our questions answered, engage in civic activities, meet with friends and co-workers and improve our skills at one of the public libraries.
  • Every month, 204,000 Canadians get job-seeking help at their public library.
  • Americans value libraries too. A Pew study recently discovered that 94 percent of American parents agree that “libraries are important for their children.”
  • In the U.S. if you have ever felt overwhelmed by the ubiquity of McDonald’s, this stat may make your day: There are more public libraries (about 17,000) in America than outposts of the burger mega-chain (about 14,000). The same is true of Starbucks (about 11, 000 coffee shops nationally).

And a classic:

Via Alvin Schrader, former president CLA.

“There are more libraries in Canada than Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s restaurants combined – 22,000 compared to 2,049 “Tim’s” and more than 1,200 McDonald’s. And for every three donuts sold by Tim Horton’s in 1999, one book or other item was accessed by someone in a library somewhere in the country. In 1999 twice as many Canadians went to libraries as to movie theatres.”

For the kids stuff from the OISE report for FOPL:

“Participants in public library summer reading programs scored higher on reading achievement tests.”

“Kids who don’t read well by Grade 3 are more likely to drop out of school.”

“Early literacy library programs have a noticeable impact on children’s literacy behaviour and on parent/caregiver interactions in their homes.”

Early literacy programs in public libraries have a measurable impact on children’s school readiness.

Simply put: Ontario’s Public Libraries, now more than ever before, play a critical role in the social, educational, cultural and economic success of our Ontario communities. Public Libraries are essential investments in the future of our communities and are essential drivers of success in school preparedness, reading readiness, economic and employment success, and social equity. As the development of the knowledge economy progresses, public libraries are a vital link for every resident and every community to ensure success of all Ontarians, regardless of wealth, location or background.

Ontario public library services have evolved to be much more than books and buildings.  Today’s libraries have a measurable and valuable impact on the quality of life and the success of our communities – economically, socially, educationally, and culturally.  FOPL ensures that funders and decision-makers know the full breadth and depth of the role of public libraries in Ontario, and advocates for the needed support, programs, and resources to continue to make a difference for all Ontarians.  The Public Library value proposition is stronger than ever.

Here are the sources that might be useful as a fine print footnote:



Posted on: November 24, 2014, 7:01 am Category: Uncategorized

Internet of Things will change everything

Internet of Things will change everything

Internet of Things - Mainstream

Internet of Things - Usage

Internet of Things - Concerns



Posted on: November 24, 2014, 6:06 am Category: Uncategorized

PEW: Public Perceptions of Privacy and Security in the Post-Snowden Era”

Public Perceptions of Privacy and Security in the Post-Snowden Era

Via Gary Price at LJ InfoDocket

Privacy evokes a constellation of concepts for Americans—some of them tied to traditional notions of civil liberties and some of them driven by concerns about the surveillance of digital communications and the coming era of “big data.” While Americans’ associations with the topic of privacy are varied, the majority of adults in a new survey by the Pew Research Center feel that their privacy is being challenged along such core dimensions as the security of their personal information and their ability to retain confidentiality.

Privacy word cloud

When Americans are asked what comes to mind when they hear the word “privacy,” there are patterns to their answers. As the above word cloud illustrates, they give important weight to the idea that privacy applies to personal material—their space, their “stuff,” their solitude, and, importantly, their “rights.” Beyond the frequency of individual words, when responses are grouped into themes, the largest block of answers ties to concepts of security, safety, and protection. For many others, notions of secrecy and keeping things “hidden” are top of mind when thinking about privacy.

Most are aware of government efforts to monitor communications

More than a year after contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents about widespread government surveillance by the NSA, the cascade of news stories about the revelations continue to register widely among the public. Some 43% of adults have heard “a lot” about “the government collecting information about telephone calls, emails, and other online communications as part of efforts to monitor terrorist activity,” and another 44% have heard “a little.” Just 5% of adults in our panel said they have heard “nothing at all” about these programs.

Widespread concern about surveillance by government and businesses

Perhaps most striking is Americans’ lack of confidence that they have control over their personal information. That pervasive concern applies to everyday communications channels and to the collectors of their information—both in the government and in corporations. For example:

Yet, even as Americans express concern about government access to their data, they feel as though government could do more to regulate what advertisers do with their personal information:

In the commercial context, consumers are skeptical about some of the benefits of personal data sharing, but are willing to make tradeoffs in certain circumstances when their sharing of information provides access to free services.

There is little confidence in the security of common communications channels, and those who have heard about government surveillance programs are the least confident

The public feels most secure using landline phones, least secure on social media Across the board, there is a universal lack of confidence among adults in the security of everyday communications channels—particularly when it comes to the use of online tools. Across six different methods of mediated communication, there is not one mode through which a majority of the American public feels “very secure” when sharing private information with another trusted person or organization:

  • 81% feel “not very” or “not at all secure” using social media sites when they want to share private information with another trusted person or organization.
  • 68% feel insecure using chat or instant messages to share private information.
  • 58% feel insecure sending private info via text messages.
  • 57% feel insecure sending private information via email.
  • 46% feel “not very” or “not at all secure” calling on their cell phone when they want to share private information.
  • 31% feel “not very” or “not at all secure” using a landline phone when they want to share private information.

Americans’ lack of confidence in core communications channels tracks closely with how much they have heard about government surveillance programs. For five out of the six communications channels we asked about, those who have heard “a lot” about government surveillance are significantly more likely than those who have heard just “a little” or “nothing at all” to consider the method to be “not at all secure” for sharing private information with another trusted person or organization.

Most say they want to do more to protect their privacy, but many believe it is not possible to be anonymous online

When it comes to their own role in managing the personal information they feel is sensitive, most adults express a desire to take additional steps to protect their data online: When asked if they feel as though their own efforts to protect the privacy of their personal information online are sufficient, 61% say they feel they “would like to do more,” while 37% say they “already do enough.”

Just 24% of adults “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement: “It is easy for me to be anonymous when I am online.”

When they want to have anonymity online, few feel that is easy to achieve. Just 24% of adults “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement: “It is easy for me to be anonymous when I am online.”

Not everyone monitors their online reputation very vigilantly, even though many assume others will check up on their digital footprints

Some people are more anxious than others to keep track of their online reputation. Adults under the age of 50 are far more likely to be “self-searchers” than those ages 50 and older, and adults with higher levels of household income and education stand out as especially likely to check up on their own digital footprints.

  • 62% adults have ever used a search engine to look up their own name or see what information about them is on the internet.
  • 47% say they generally assume that people they meet will search for information about them on the internet, while 50% do not.
  • However, just 6% of adults have set up some sort of automatic alert to notify them when their name is mentioned in a news story, blog, or elsewhere online.

Context matters as people decide whether to disclose information or not

One of the ways that people cope with the challenges to their privacy online is to employ multiple strategies for managing identity and reputation across different networks and transactions. As previous findings from the Pew Research Center have suggested, users bounce back and forth between different levels of disclosure depending on the context. This survey also finds that when people post comments, questions or other information, they do so using a range of identifiers—using a screen name, their actual name, or posting anonymously.

Among all adults:

  • 59% have posted comments, questions or other information online using a user name or screen name that people associate with them.
  • 55% have done so using their real name.
  • 42% have done so anonymously.

In some cases, the choices people make about disclosure may be tied to work-related policies. Among employed adults:

  • 24% of employed adults say that their employer has rules or guidelines about how they are allowed to present themselves online.
  • 11% say that their job requires them to promote themselves through social media or other online tools.

Different types of information elicit different levels of sensitivity among Americans

Social security numbers are universally considered to be the most sensitive piece of personal information, while media tastes and purchasing habits are among the least sensitive categories of data.

Social security numbers, health info and phone conversations among the most sensitive data

At the same time that Americans express these broad sensitivities toward various kinds of information, they are actively engaged in negotiating the benefits and risks of sharing this data in their daily interactions with friends, family, co-workers, businesses and government. And even as they feel concerned about the possibility of misinformation circulating online, relatively few report negative experiences tied to their digital footprints.

  • 11% of adults say they have had any bad experiences because embarrassing or inaccurate information was posted about them online.
  • 16% say they have asked someone to remove or correct information about them that was posted online.”


Posted on: November 23, 2014, 6:57 am Category: Uncategorized

Video: Apps for Librarians

Apps for Librarians: Digital Literacy with mobile apps


Posted on: November 23, 2014, 6:41 am Category: Uncategorized

Infographic: Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design infographic


Posted on: November 22, 2014, 6:54 am Category: Uncategorized

These Charts Show Just How Far The Newspaper Industry Has Fallen In 10 Years

These Charts Show Just How Far The Newspaper Industry Has Fallen In 10 Years






Posted on: November 22, 2014, 6:33 am Category: Uncategorized

Top 5 problems with library websites – a review of recent usability studies

Top 5 problems with library websites – a review of recent usability studies

“What are the most common UX problems with academic library websites and library tools?  I looked at 16 studiesconducted over the past two years, and here is what I learned:

1NumberOneInCircleWhat does that mean?  Library jargon


2NumberTwoInCircleWhat am I searching?  Understanding search tools


128px-3NumberThreeInCircle.svgWhere am I? Getting lost in silos


4NumberFourInCircleWhat is it? Understanding bibliographic formats and relationships


5NumberFiveInCircleHow do I get it?  Difficulty Finding Full-Text


And one bonus problem: 

6NumberSixInCircleWhere is it?  Navigating with tabs”



Read the details:



Posted on: November 21, 2014, 6:51 am Category: Uncategorized