Thursday, September 29, 2005

Williamsburg, VA

I am in "colonial Williamsburg", at the South Atlantic Regional Conference, which is the annual event for Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Caribbean SLA Chapters.

Tomorrow I will be speaking to attendees about the disaggregation and unbundling of content from its traditional containers, and the changes to the channels in which content is available. This trend was one of the three overarching megatrends we identified in the Environmental Scan, and one we explored in more depth in the "2004 Information Format Trends" report (here).

And (foreshadowing drumroll, please) a trend whose bones we decided to put some flesh on. In the OCLC report (not published yet but soon, really soon) of the survey we commissioned one of the major areas we asked the 3300+ responders was about their familiarity with libaries' e-resources. When the report is released (late October we hope) you will see many questions probing for peoples' awareness and perceptions of, and usage of library-provided e-resources. But, here's a teaser: one question we asked was:

"Why haven’t you ever used the online library website?" (This was a follow-up to a question asking if people had used a library website...which is where most if not all libraries provide access to various e-resources). Here's the answers, by country of respondent....and I apologize that the x and y axes have somehow disappeared. This was grabbed from one of our drafts of the report and I have no idea why the format changed. But, for the purposes of making a point, I don't think the values are necessary--the 4 groups represent the geographic groupings, US, Canada, UK, and Asia, top to bottom. The data will be in the report.

Oh. My. Good. Grief. Yes, folks.....3348 Internet-savvy people in 6 countries do not know libraries even have web sites, can't find such an animal, or prefer other websites. Hmmm, and here in the United States ALA has been running the @your library campaign for a couple of years. It'll be interesting to see what before and after measurements ALA will use to determine the effectiveness of the campaign.

One of the open-ended questions we asked in the survey was: what is the first thing you think of when you think of the library? 3,785 comments were documented and the answers were varied but more than half (57%) included books in their response. Here's how one 41 year old Canadian responder put it.
"Books, books, books, rows and rows of books, stacks of books, tables filled with books, people holding books, people checking out books. Libraries are all about books. That is what I think and that is what I will always think.”


Alice said...

I seem to remember another comment about the smell of a library. That is, a smell captured the essence of the library, to one responder.

Is someone out there baking brownies in the stacks?

George said...

It's that darn Proust guy again.

lislemck said...

I baked the brownies. I used Alice's recipe (that other Alice...)(tee hee).

I also used my magical powers to veil all the library websites on the planet from almost all potential viewers. I don't know how those few got past me...must have librarian gene in DNA? I can't fight that magic.