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Friday, January 07, 2011

OCLC Delivers Valuable Data on Library Usage & Public Perceptions

A new report on American libraries is about to be released by OCLC, and everyone who's in this country should read it. It's the follow-up to the extremely insightful and helpful report that OCLC published 5 years ago, which was called "Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources." This new edition is named "Perceptions of Libraries, 2010." Anyone who makes decisions about how to reach users and what to offer them needs to use the data that was discovered during this study. 

OCLC describes it this way: 
OCLC's newest membership report, Perceptions of Libraries, 2010, a sequel to the 2005 Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources, will be available soon. The new report provides updated information and new insights into information consumers and their online habits, preferences, and perceptions. Particular attention was paid to how the current economic downturn has affected the information-seeking behaviors and how those changes are reflected in the use and perception of libraries.
What makes this valuable info even better is that it's free. (Thanks, OCLC!!!) If you go to this page, you can read more about it. On the right side, click the link that says "Register now to download this report" and, after giving your most basic contact info, you'll be able to download two advance PDFs of fascinating info right away. Once the full report is ready, you'll get an email telling you how to download that for free as well.

I can't say enough good things about these OCLC reports and how important this info is. (We've covered one related report before, here.)  I still have my print copy of the 2005 Perceptions report at my desk. The 2010 one will deliver real data such as this: 
More than a third (37%) of economically impacted respondents said they are using the library more often than they did before the economic downturn. Increased library use is substantially 
higher than any other lifestyle activity increase measured. 13 million economically impacted Americans—that is more than the populations of New York, Chicago and Houston combined—are using the library more during the challenging economic time.
Note how the authors made the large number (13 million) easier to grasp by comparing it to something more tangible. This is very important to help readers understand the magnitude, and you need to do the same when you share this data with your funders, administrators, and citizens. 

These reports offer a wealth of data that you can use to prove your value and make your case for funding. They also give you the big picture, giving you a glimpse of the whole country. It's very valuable to have view of the industry outside of your own area. 

Thanks to the folks over at ResourceShelf for spotting this news first. That's a great service to help keep you on top of what's happening in the info industry. Sign up for their free newsletter!

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