Cathy De Rosa: January 2011 Archives

perceptions_2010_cover.jpgJust before ALA Midwinter, we announced the release of two chapters from the newest OCLC membership report, Perceptions of Libraries, 2010: Context and Community. At an ALA session where a group of us previewed the full report, there was vibrant discussion - and a lot more to talk about together in the future. There was also quite a lot of activity on Twitter, where some of the key findings from the report were shared and linked.

As always happens when we talk about our users and the future, I came away with many new ideas for future research directions! But for today, I'm pleased to report that the full publication of Perceptions of Libraries, 2010 is available now for free download and for print copy orders.

I believe the trends, perceptions and attitudes of the information consumer examined in this latest study is important information for the OCLC membership, the library profession, community leaders and library advocates as we work together to advance the vital work of libraries. I look forward to your comments, suggestions and observations, and you can share them with us here.

And I look forward to some great discussions!!

perceptions_2010_cover.jpg In 2005, OCLC published, Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources. The report to the OCLC membership summarized findings about the information-seeking habits, preferences, and perceptions of the newly empowered Information Consumer. This month we will release a study updating our knowledge of the Information Consumer in Perceptions of Libraries, 2010: Context and Community.

Why update the 2005 report? First, in "Internet time," five years is at least one information generation. To put that statement in perspective, in 2005 there was no Twitter (launched July 2006), Facebook hadn't opened to the general public (September 2006), and the first iPhone was more than three years away (January 2009).

Second, in the five years since we published Perceptions 2005, the United States, and much of the rest of the world, has experienced a massive economic downturn. We all know, instinctively, that the global recession must be affecting how people use and perceive information resources and library services, but we wanted to find out more about how economic factors are impacting both the use and the perception of the library. Having a "snapshot" from 2005 gave us a great opportunity to compare "before-and-during the recession" usage and attitudes - and to identify new opportunities for libraries.

At the ALA Midwinter meeting in San Diego, I'll be reviewing our findings. Today we're previewing two chapters from the new report:

  • "Economically Impacted Americans." We paid particular attention in 2010 to our current economic situation. We were interested in learning how those impacted by job changes or job loss are using the library and other information resources. Our research showed that 20% of Americans have experienced a negative change to their employment status, such as a job loss or having to work more than one job to make ends meet. That's more than twice the current unemployment rate. Americans who have been negatively impacted have distinct information consumption habits and are 50% more likely to visit the library at least weekly than those not affected. They are also 20 percent more likely to hold a library card (81% vs. 68%) and are most actively using the full range of resources that the library has to offer.

  • "The Library: Empowering Americans." Americans are using the library more due to the economic downturn. This is particularly true for those whose employment status has been negatively impacted. 76% of economically impacted users have reduced spending on books, CDs and DVDs and are turning to the library in large numbers to fill the gap. We saw Americans increase their library use during challenging economic times; this was the lifestyle change with the largest increase reported in our study. Our libraries are filling gaps left by the recession. 
If you're going to ALA Midwinter, please join me on Saturday, January 8, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. in the San Diego Convention Center, Room 08 for a discussion of the entire report, and much more data from these two chapters. You can register for the session, and other OCLC events, here. And please read the two pre-publication chapters, available at the OCLC Membership Reports page.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the full report when it's released this month. You can reach me at


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