Fast Facts

Gary Pattillo

Public library visitors

“In 2015, 46 percent of all those ages 16 or older had visited a public library or book mobile in person during the previous 12 months. This is essentially unchanged since 2013, when 48 percent said this, but does represent a decline from the 53 percent of Americans who in 2012 had paid an in-person visit to a public library in the prior year. Majorities of women, younger Americans, college graduates, and lower- to middle-income Americans have visited a library in the past year. Fifty-six percent of college graduates paid an in-person visit to a library or book mobile in the past year.”

John Horrigan, “Libraries at the Crossroads,” Pew Research Center, September 2015, (retrieved January 6, 2016).

Global literacy

The latest data show that the global adult literacy rate was 85 percent, and the youth literacy rate was 91 percent in 2013. This represents an increase compared to estimates for the reference year 2012, when the adult and youth literacy rates were 84 percent and 89 percent, respectively. The number of illiterate adults was estimated to be 781 million in 2012, which was 24 million more than in 2013.”

UNESCO Institute for Statistics, “Adult and youth literacy,” UIS Fact Sheet, September 2015, no. 32, (retrieved January 6, 2016).

Intellectual engagement of undergraduates

“Only about half of first-year students and three in five seniors reported that their courses highly challenged them to do their best work. The extent of course challenge was unrelated to institutional selectivity for first-year students, and had a modest negative relationship for seniors. Selectivity neither assures nor is a prerequisite for this aspect of educational quality. Coursework in the major that emphasizes creative skills (e.g., generating new ideas, taking risks, inventing new methods to find solutions) was positively related to student engagement in several areas.”

Alexander C. McCormick, “Engagement insights: survey findings on the quality of undergraduate education,” National Survey of Student Engagement, Annual results 2015, (retrieved December 2, 2015).

Student debt, college worth

“About half of recent graduates who took out any student loan debt (48 percent) say they have delayed postgraduate education because of it; this figure rises to a clear majority (56 percent) among those with debt loads over $25,001. More than a third of recent graduates with student loans (36 percent) say they have delayed buying a home—a significant concern given the U.S. economy’s connection to the country’s housing market. One-third say they have postponed buying a car.”

Gallup and Purdue University, “Great jobs, great lives: the relationship between student debt, experiences and perceptions of college worth,” Gallup-Purdue Index 2015 Report, (retrieved January 6, 2016).

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