Monday, December 27, 2010

Library Fees - Impact People Who Actually Use Libraries

LA libraries seek new funding sources
Municipal Risk: December 23, 2010
Los Angeles county has a $130 million library budget. Looking out at the horizon, officials see a $22 million per year deficit – for at least the next 10 years.

With recent ballot initiatives passing in favor of capital funding for the system facilities, the LA library system is very heavily supported by its community, said Peter Persic, PR Director.

Yet, like all other municipal officials around the country, officials are still reticent to embrace the idea of charging a minor book rental fee to library users. “It’s an issue libraries around the country are grappling with, especially in light of the mission to be a free public library,” said Persic.

Here at MunicipalRisk, we see an enormous opportunity to supplement and possibly transform library budgets with revenue driven by usage.

A new book at Barnes & Noble costs $30. A movie rental costs $5 at Blockbuster or $10/month at Netflix. Average monthly cable bills are $100+. But, for some reason local officials are stuck on a centuries old idea that libraries should be completely free. Imagine just a 25 cent rental fee per item loaned by the library. In LA County, where 18 million items were checked out in 2009, that would’ve meant $4.5 million in revenue for the system.

Conceivably, user fees could easily be capped for library members, or even unlimited usage pricing options could be offered for frequent users.

The ultimate question is why should legislators increases taxes to everyone when user fees would just impact the people who actually use the library services?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

State-by-State Financial Capability Study

FINRA Foundation Releases Nation's First State-by-State Financial Capability Survey
New Jersey, New York and New Hampshire Most Financially Capable, Kentucky and Montana Place Last
December 8, 2010

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation (FINRA Foundation) today launched a dynamic interactive Web resource to display the results of America's first State-by-State Financial Capability Survey.

It displays a clickable map of the United States and allows the public, policymakers and researchers to delve into and compare the financial capabilities of Americans in every state and across geographic regions. The State-by-State Financial Capability Survey, which surveyed more than 28,000 respondents, was developed in consultation with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy.

The state-by-state survey found a significant disparity in financial capability across state lines and demographic groups: Young Americans nationally were more likely to be less financially capable than older Americans, and they were significantly more likely to engage in non-bank borrowing.

“This study highlights how important improving financial education is for Americans, especially during times of financial insecurity,” said FINRA Foundation Chairman Rick Ketchum. “While the current economic conditions can exacerbate the consequences of poor financial decisions, some states are still well ahead of others.”

The state-by-state survey echoed several of the findings of a smaller-scale national survey released in 2009, finding:
~ Over half of all Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.
~ 55% of Americans report spending more than or about equal to their household income.
~ A significant majority of Americans (60%) do not have a “rainy day” fund to cover 3 months of unanticipated financial emergencies.
~ More than one in five Americans (24%) have engaged in some form of higher cost non-bank borrowing during the last five years, including taking out a payday loan or getting an advance on a tax refund.

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The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools necessary for financial success throughout life. For details about grant programs and other FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit READ MORE !

Gauge your financial knowledge—take the quiz below and compare your score with the averages in specific states, regions or the nation overall.

1. Suppose you have $100 in a savings account earning 2 percent interest a year. After five years, would you have more than $102, exactly $102 or less than $102?

2. Imagine that the interest rate on your savings account is 1 percent a year and inflation is 2 percent a year. After one year, would the money in the account buy more than it does today, exactly the same or less than today?

3. If interest rates rise, what will typically happen to bond prices? Rise, fall, stay the same, or is there no relationship?

4. True or false: A 15-year mortgage typically requires higher monthly payments than a 30-year mortgage but the total interest over the life of the loan will be less.

5. True or false: Buying a single company's stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Learning: Is There an App for That ?

Learning: Is there an app for that?
by Cynthia Chiong & Carly Shuler
November 2010

A mobile media revolution that is changing the lives of adults, and now children of all ages, is under way across the globe. This report focuses on how new forms of digital media are influencing very young children and their families in the United States and how we can deploy smart mobile devices and applications-apps, for short-in particular, to help advance their education. It does so in three parts:

Part One discusses new trends in smart mobile devices, specifically the pass-back effect, which is when an adult passes his or her own device to a child.

Part Two presents the results of three new studies that were undertaken to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of using apps to promote learning among preschool- and early-elementary-aged children. Though designed to complement one another, each study approached mobile learning from a different angle.

Part Three discusses the implications these findings have for industry, education, and research.

Commissioned by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and PBS KIDS Raising Readers, through an initiative funded by a Ready to Learn grant and the United States Department of Education in cooperation with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Key Findings
Together, the three studies provide insight into how children are using and learning from smart mobile devices and apps. Here we present the findings according to our focal research questions:

• How much access do young children have to smart mobile devices?
The pass-back effect appears to be a real interactive phenomenon. Young children have access to smart mobile devices, but their access is often limited.

• What do young children do with smart mobile devices?
Kids say that they mainly play games with smart mobile devices, while parents report that their kids use these devices for a variety of activities.

• To what extent do young children like smartmobile devices?
They like smart mobile devices, particularly the iPhone/iPod touch.

• How adept are young children at using smart mobile devices?
Most children were able to use the device on their own without any trouble. Other children needed a little help, but only at the beginning. They quickly became adept users.

• To what extent do young children learn from apps?
There is evidence that kids can learn from apps. The Martha Speaks application used in the Learning Study shows promise for vocabulary learning, especially for older children. The Super Why app may be an effective way to promote literacy skills, especially for younger children.

• How can apps successfully sustain young children’s interest and learning?
Interest in the apps can be fleeting, but factors such as developmentally appropriate and fresh content, shortened wait times, humorous activities, incentives, goals, and parental involvement can help to sustain interest.

• What is the role of parents in the mobile media revolution?
All three studies suggest that parents play important roles in shaping the quality of their children’s experiences with mobile devices. When it comes to smart mobile devices, many parents do not yet view them as potential learning tools — especially when compared to other technologies like computers and the Internet — and thus restrict how their children use them.

Implications for industry
Design principle No. 1:
Create apps that are developmentally appropriate.
• Focus content narrowly within a developmental age range.
• Design content to be relevant to what children are already learning.
• Consider children’s evolving motor skills.
• Engage children (and adults!) by making them laugh… but not too much. Balance engagement and learning.

Design principle No. 2:
Create apps that sustain children’s interest and learning.
• Design for shorter playtimes.
• Provide goals and incentives: Keep them coming back.
• Give kids the option to personalize.
• Involve parents.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

TAKE ACTION: Support Museum & Library Services Act

Support the Museum and Library Services Act S.3984 !

Call your Representative
Tell them to
Support the Museum & Library Services Act !

Take Action !

CALL the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be transferred to your representative’s office. Tell their staffs that passing S. 3984, the Museum and Library Services Act (MLSA), is imperative to ensuring libraries can continue providing critical resources to their constituents, particularly in this tough economy.

Specifically highlighting programs or resources your library provides to the member’s constituents will make your message stronger.

The U.S. Senate passed MLSA Reauthorization under unanimous consent late Tuesday night, bringing the bill one step closer to reauthorization before the end of the 111th Congress.

MLSA will ensure that the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds are secured and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is equipped to lead America’s libraries. This bill received bipartisan support from both Senate Republicans and Democrats, especially Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), who is a longtime supporter of libraries in this country. Other Senate sponsors of this bill include Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Michael Enzi (R-WY), and Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Jon Tester (D-MT).

Access the full text of the bill S. 3984 here.

MLSA has moved to the U.S. House of Representatives where it must receive a vote before the end of the calendar year. Please call your representative and urge him or her to press House leadership for a vote on the Senate-passed version of MLSA and to support the bill.

Your calls are urgently needed TODAY. If the House does not pass this legislation in the next two weeks, the whole reauthorization process will have to start over after the first of the year.

Compose a Message Here and send by email.

Find Your Elected Officials @
~ including the president, members of Congress, governors, state legislators, and more.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Books in the Home Increase the Level of Education

Books in Home as Important as Parents' Education in Determining Children's Education Level
ScienceDaily: May 21, 2010

Whether rich or poor, residents of the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain, according to a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of sociology and resource economics.

For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home compared to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) compared to having parents who have a university education (15 or 16 years of education). Both factors, having a 500-book library or having university-educated parents, propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average.
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"What kinds of investments should we be making to help these kids get ahead?" she asked. "The results of this study indicate that getting some books into their homes is an inexpensive way that we can help these children succeed."

Evans said, "Even a little bit goes a long way," in terms of the number of books in a home. Having as few as 20 books in the home still has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books you add, the greater the benefit.

"You get a lot of 'bang for your book'," she said. "It's quite a good return-on-investment in a time of scarce resources."

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The *study by Evans and her colleagues at Nevada, UCLA and Australian National University is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies ever conducted on what influences the level of education a child will attain.

The researchers were struck by the strong effect having books in the home had on children's educational attainment even above and beyond such factors as education level of the parents, the country's GDP, the father's occupation or the political system of the country. READ MORE !

*Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations