Reading OCLC’s Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources (2005), Parts 3, 4, 5, and Conclusion

More notes while reading through Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources (2005).

Part 3: The Library Brand:

The one thing that stood out to me is the top three criteria respondents use for deciding which electronic information source to use: 1. provides worthwhile information; 2. Provides free information; and 3. Based on ease of use.

I think we get #’s 1 and 2 right – but not always #3.

Part 4: Respondents’ Advice to Libraries:


Part 5: Libraries–A “Universal” Brand?:

Good stuff, but nothing that stands out to me…


84% of respondents use search engines to begin an information search … 1% begin the search on a library website. That makes perfect sense – we currently don’t have too much actual information residing on our websites.

What do we have? We have pointers to information – pointers to the catalog, to databases, to other websites. More Subject Guides and original articles focusing on how to find niche information is a good way to start bridging this gap. Focused guides and articles will also put those parts of our website in a search engine’s hit lists.

“Library card holders use information resources more than non-card holders, and they are more favorably disposed to libraries than non-card holders.” OK – this is one of those silly parts … really, did this need to be studied? This is like doing a study on exercise to see if it really does help you lose weight… just a little pet peave of mine…

Big flags should go up here:
1. “Information consumers use the library. They use the library less and read less since they began using the Internet.”
2. “Borrowing print books is the library service most used.”

Big issue – Customers are borrowing our print books less, but that’s our primary commodity. This needs to change. Period.

Little issue, to OCLC – I think you mean respondents are reading PRINT BOOKS less, rather than reading less. If they are using the Internet, most likely they are still reading – just not a print book.

“Find ways to get material to people, rather than making them come to the library.” – again, the theme of going out and meeting your customers….

Reading OCLC’s Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources (2005), Parts 1 and 2

I’m reading OCLC’s Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources (2005) . I highly recommend reading this! Here are a collection of quotes, numbers, my thoughts, etc. – taken as I’m reading. Hope you find it useful.


“Users are not aware of the electronic resources libraries make freely available.” Wow. Many libraries hide them under the phrase “library databases” – what’s that mean? Some of us try to bring them out a little more, by calling them Magazines, Newspapers, and More” or “Find articles.” But of course, that only works for people who visit your library (in person or digitally).

We need to be meeting our customers in the community, with databases in hand. Visit schools – do an in-service. How about chamber of commerce brown bag style presentations? How about inviting yourself to a business meeting?

Part 1: Libraries and Information Sources–Use, Familiarity and Favorability:

Over 80 % of 14-24 year olds have a library card, but most (73%) visit at least once a year. Re-read that statistic this way: 73% of our future adult patrons visit us about once a year. Yikes.

Double wow – most customers use email, search engines, and IM. But what do libraries provide? Access to all these (although I have been to libraries that restrict both email and IM). But how about training? Probably search engine training, possibly training in setting up an email account – but certainly no IM training.

Triple wow – “In the 12 years that search engines have been in existence, they have achieved a familiarity rating that is slightly higher than that of physical libraries and considerably higher than that of online libraries.” But – libraries have been around for centuries, for pete’s sake! Tell me – who’s marketing correctly, and who’s providing a service that people want?

A quote from an individual – “I despise searching the library for books and other sources. It takes a long time and rarely can you find sources needed. This difficult process is the first thing I think of when I think of using the library” (from an 18 year old). Ouch. OK – to be fair, there are good quotes, too.

Part 2: Using the Library–In Person and Online:

“Respondents feel that the local bookstore is more a suitable source of current materials than their library.” I’ve seen a small flurry of staff emails today working on that very problem. Bookstores know in advance that certain books will probably be hot, when new movies are out, etc. We, as “Information Specialists,” SHOULD be able to find and use that same information. Why aren’t we?

Again, “Awareness of electronic databases and electronic materials at the library is low. Awareness of library Web sites and online library catalogs is high.” We’re obviously doing a good job of leading customers to our library catalog, but not to our databases.

“Most respondents do not seek assistance when using library electronic resources.” Which is why we need to get out from behind the service desk – the idea of roving reference is a great one.

Reasons for never using the library website:
1. didn’t know it existed – We need to put the library’s URL EVERYWHERE. But just for starters – that’s passive pushing. Active pushing would be sending actual library staff out of the library, doing presentations in the community. Placing ads in the gaming stores around town. Sponsoring a poetry reading at a coffee shop. Etc. etc. etc.
2. Other Web sites have better information – Wow – that’s very true. Think about it – They’re really comparing one measly website (the library website) with billions of websites (via google). Who’s going to win? But that’s ok. We can’t be everything… but we can be the best at some things, like local information. Our library websites can be the first and the best stop for information about our communities.
3. can’t find the Web site – Refer to my thought on #1 above…

More later…

SJCPL’s Subject Guide Wiki

Michael and Maire posted about their library’s awesome Subject Guide wiki. And awesome it is! It is easily accessible from their library’s main page, and already has 17 subjects listed (last Friday there were three, so those librarians are busy!). And nowhere on the website is the word “Wiki” mentioned, which is great – the term would just confuse most patrons (and those who know what wikis are will recognize it as a wiki anyway).

Click on a Subject Guide, and you get a variety of info, depending on the Guide. For example, the Business Guide currently includes Company Information, Personal Finance Planning, Programs and Events, links, etc. And the best part? They get the whole Subject Guide thing – they’re pointing to their content: linking to their databases, books, and events. They’re even pointing to a few non-library events that are focused on the particular subject guide’s topic – way cool.

Then the wiki part kicks in… each guide has a discussion section where customers can add comments to the guide – think instant feedback, content contributions, and a stronger sense of community. And – if you really want to – you can subscribe to the Recent Changes RSS feed (it’s sorta hidden, and sorta techie-looking – but it IS a way to see what’s being updated).

But that’s just for patrons… what about staff? The nice thing about a wiki, of course, is the built-in ability to edit pages without having to know HTML, PHP, Ajax, or any number of nasty coding languages. You can just edit, update, and creat useful content. The wiki is set up for library staff to log in and edit (and no one else gets to), which is fine in this instance.

Visual design: It currently looks very much like a wiki – which works for SJCPL. Their website currently uses a white background with images to brighten things up, and so the wiki’s white background and text blends in nicely. But I’m curious about how much can be changed, design-wise, with this wiki. I’d hate to go from my library’s tan/brown colors to the default wiki white – that’d be sorta jarring to our customers.

Are there other libraries using wiki’s for subject guides? Yes. Check out Ohio University Libraries Biz Wiki. And check out this great article on what librarians can do with a wiki, written by Meredith. So go – check out the wiki subject guides, read Meredith’s article, then sit and think: will this help my library meet our goals? If so, go for it!


Why Library 2.0?

I’m seeing lots of posts about the concept of Library 2.0 – how it’s about serving our customers, how it’s not about technology, etc. Interesting stuff. However – that part about Library 2.0 not really being about technology? Yes and no.

No: Technology is really just one of many tools to get at the heart of library 2.0, which is CHANGE. Libraries haven’t really changed for A LONG TIME. And now we are changing in a big way. Our missions have changed, our collection development policies have changed, our staffing has changed, our primary services are changing, the formats of materials that we own and loan – changing.

We’re now visited internally, externally, digitally. Visited in person, via IM, cell phone, chat, or email. We count web visits and door counts…

Yes: Read the above No section again and tell me what part DOESN’T focus in some way on technology. Go on. Tell me. OK – I’ll help you out a little. This isn’t in the last section, but the general concepts of:

  1. constant change in libraries
  2. participation, sharing, and thinking outside the box

Those are the non-techie Library 2.0 concepts. Now – why are all these changes taking place? Hmm? Because of technology.

  • All the web 2.0 services out right now = technology
  • the creation and distribution of original content rather than being an information silo = technology
  • New services mentioned above = technology (ie., chat, IM, web access, gaming, etc)
  • New material formats mentioned above = technology (ie., digital audio, streaming media, digitized collections, even CDs and DVDs)
  • Even new ways to do traditional services, like reference = technology (virtual chat, IM, even patrons calling in via cell phones)

Of course Library 2.0 is all about technology. But not technology for technology’s sake. Not technology like silly, archaic, doesn’t-really-make-sense-to-anyone-outside-the-library-world automation systems. The technology I’m talking about goes back to the concept of meeting your customers where they already are. Our patrons are using web 2.0 services. They are using cell phones. They are gaming, IM’ing, chatting. they are consuming digital content. And we as libraries need to be there, if we want to meet and greet our patrons.

Library 2.0 Web 2.0