LITA President’s Program: We are Here. Where are our Users?


Cathy De Rosa, OCLC
John Horrigan PhD, Pew Internet & American Life Project

Cathy De Rosa, OCLC

  • She started by asking, "What do we see going on with our users?"
  • Users start their search on the internet. It is dominant. 84 % start there.
  • Only 1% start on a library website
  • Nothing's changed!
    • In 1947-1950 there was a public library inquiry: "Where would you go to get information on nutrition?"
    • Still, only 1% said library!
  • OCLC thinks & does research on internet behavior based on marketing theory.
  • 280ish questions in perceptions survey
    • Included a list of 16 technologies. It didn't matter what it was, they were using it. Put it out there, they'll come, they'll use it.
  • Technologies are really about behavior. Technologies let people do something.
  • Total reference at ARL institutions are plummeting.
  • The behavior is: I want to self-serve!
  • What resources are they using in libraries:
    • They are heavy use of traditional resources, 55% are borrowing print books.
  • Behaviors of college students
    • What do you do less because of the internet?
    • TV is the biggest loser due to internet.
    • This indicates they don't want to do passive things
  • What do you think of libraries?
    • Books (by a lot), information, building, research, materials, reference, entertainment (last 6 choices were much smaller)
    • Library directors say: "they said books, but they mean information," but that's not true.
  • How to decide which resource to use?
    • From this (alpha-ordered) list: credible/trustworthy, easy to use, free, fast, recommendations, worthwhile
    • answer: provides worthwhile information
    • second: provides free info
    • maybe this means they assume fast & free, but it probably means they're learning how to discern worthwhile information
  • How do you judge if electronic information is trustworthy?
    • based on personal knowledge/common sense
    • based on reputation
    • replicated information in other places
  • Summary:
    • In a 5 year period, the behavior is that they feel good & confident.
    • We're starting to see as a move from search to self-publishing, self-serving, social, sharing.
    • These are huge behavior changes!
  • Economics
    • She really recommends: We are the Web by Kevin Kelly (of Scan This Book)
    • Most of the content on the web is being contributed by users themselves.
    • Forget "if we build it they will come." They're building it.
    • Contributory economics: economics will take care of themselves, but in a different way.

    John Horrigan PhD, Pew Internet & American Life Project
    The difference the internet makes to users...and what that means for libraries

    • Digital information helps by reducing uncertainty in people's lives
    • People who get health & medical information online get support from others and ask better question of health care providers.
    • Those who go to government web sites take advantage of efficiency benefits & are more likely to contact the government.
    • Resources found on the internet help people make decisions--often by connecting with content, often with experts or "amateur" advice-givers.
  • Digital information is empowering.
    • Some evidence that those who choose to get info and news about politics online are more likely to vote.
    • People who get news about politics online are better informed about both sides of political and policy issues than those who don't.
  • Digital information and creativity
    • 48 million Americans have created or posted some sort of content for the internet.
    • 18% internet users have taken some online content and "remixed" or "mashed up."
  • Different online roles as social networkers, citizens, and friends, family, or caregivers.
  • Internet as swiss army knife
    • Particularly for young users, the internet attracts them to media, supplants traditional media, sets in motion.
    • The "long tail"
    • Does the long tail thicken the leading edge?
  • Acceleration of information transactions
  • More changes around the corner
    • Nearing inflection point of greater impact of internet on society
    • Internet increasingly embedded in things (RFID)
    • Network speed and broadband uptake will grow
  • Attention will increasingly become scarce commodity in digital world
  • Libraries ahead of the game
    • The new demands are the traditional roles of libraries
    • Essence of service is to help customer allocate attention
    • Information wants to be free, but it doesn't always want to be organized
  • Libraries are already a trusted institution and are already a networked institution.
  • Look to strengths as libraries adapt to change.
  • Karen G. Schneider points out that this "was basically hearing a mashup of the last four big OCLC reports" and I totally agree. There was a remix of Pew Internet and American Life reports as well.