Connecting library advocacy and the economy
Part of my job at OCLC is to participate in research on behalf of libraries and develop tools and materials that are useful to library staff in communicating their value to the communities they serve, and I'd like to share a little about three specific projects in this area.
- Last month, OCLC introduced the new "How libraries stack up: 2010" report. This two-page report captures a number of compelling statistics about the impact public libraries have. Did you know 300,000 people get job-seeking help every day in US public libraries? Or that people use libraries 2.8 million times every month to support their small businesses? There's a lot more there, including dollar values for many of the services listed. Developed specifically as a piece that can be shared with local elected and appointed officials, it is available for download and we hope it will be shared widely and in concert with local statistics to reinforce the critical role libraries are playing today more than ever: helping people get back to work, manage their small businesses and come together as a community. As of this week, there have been more than 5,000 downloads of the report, and several libraries have let us know about activities and materials they've developed based on the information. And we've just added two PowerPoint versions of the report: one with all the information from the printed document, and a blank template with graphics and space for you to fill in information for your library.
- Research for the forthcoming 2010 update to the Perceptions report (originally published in 2005) has captured some interesting data about how the current economy has affected users' view of libraries. For example, we found that while 68% of the US population are library card holders, that number jumps to 81% for people who have been negatively impacted by the current economy. Twelve percent of US respondents said that they visited the library weekly, but for those who have lost a job or have had their work schedule cut back, that number is 17%. The research also shows that those who have been impacted by the economy are more satisfied with librarians and library services. Look for the full report later this year.
- The "Geek the Library" awareness campaign pilot has been underway since June 2009 in central Iowa, southern Georgia, and a small number of other communities (based on research outlined in the From Awareness to Funding report) and the results are coming in. While there will be a formal report later this year--at which time all the campaign materials will be made widely available--the short version of the update is, "Geeking the library works!" We've seen unusually strong increases in awareness in both our main markets. The campaign also scored high for likeability, and over two-thirds of people took action in response to the campaign, or said they intended to. In Georgia, we also saw increases in people's willingness to support increases in library funding.
The results are really encouraging, but what has been most exciting has been seeing how many library staff have grabbed the campaign with both hands. They've taken the opportunity to take the message into their communities and to local events, speaking to local media and sharing the message with their local businesses, schools and last but not least, city and council members.
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