Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sneak peak on OCLC research on librarian perceptions

Yesterday I heard OCLC's Cathy deRosa give an advance preview of a recent study of librarian perceptions. Her team surveyed 4,168 OCLC member librarians. About 48% of them were academics, and 31% public.

Below are a few highlights:

General priorities were for public librarians the provision of access to the internet, the demonstration of value, licensed e-collections, access to technology generally, and the need to form community partnerships. For academic librarians, the issues were licensing, future of higher ed, facilities, visibility of collection, and digitization projects. Only community college librarians listed as a significant priority providing services through mobile devices, which played a big role in our keynote speaker's remarks about third world innovation. 

Current initiatives for public librarians were ebooks and other eresources; for academics, discovery tools and digitization projects.

Use predictions. 55% of public librarians thought physical visits to the library would increase over the next five years; but only 44% of community college librarians and 40% of academics thought so.

About 85% of all kinds of librarians thought online use would increase; in the last survey of users, about 72% thought it would stay the same. Who's right? deRosa says, "Usually the users."

Staying informed. Or particular interest to me was how librarians stay informed about professional issues. The source most used (by 66%) was listservs and email. Next came periodicals. Public librarians read, in this order, Library Journal, American Libraries, and Public Libraries. Webinars are rising for newer librarians (although still not huge). About 20% cited blogs, and the top rated were Annoyed Librarian, blogjunction, and Librarian in Black. But blog reading by librarians seems to be falling, which is worth thinking about. As is the case with users, 85% do NOT use Twitter.

OCLC has earned its position as a "thought leader" through precisely this kind of research and reporting. And it certainly gives a writer something to think about. And of course, to blog and Tweet about, although it appears email would be smarter.

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