Sunday, March 25, 2012

U.S. Public Libraries: a snapshot of priorities & perspectives - a few early morning thoughts

I was really interested to see the latest OCLC report about US public libraries.  OCLC reports always make interesting reading.  I am only going to mention a few points which stood out for me.  I will probably write more when I have have thought about this more.

I was interested the growing content creation role for libraries really did not get a mention.

About 50% of the respondents think there will be little change in roles in the next five years and thirty three percent think there will be no change in roles.  Why do they think that?  Why do they think that is a good thing? How can this be sustainable?

Where is the growing place for content creation and co-creation for libraries being included?

Less than 50% of library workers who responded read blogs as part of their professional development.  Interestingly this was the figure that surprised me, rather than the 85% who do not use twitter. I had expected the twitter statistics (or something in that range), but that over half of the library workers who responded do not use blogs for professional development was a bit of a surprise.  That they don't even use one or two was interesting.

There are areas of concern which come through from this survey.  The big one is that people don't think library services are going to change much in the next five years.  I think it is essential that library created content, and co-created content (with the community) grows.  Libraries will still be places to access stories, but the role in creating them, and in helping the community create them will expand and develop.

Libraries need to keep changing to stay relevant for our communities.

The results of this recent OCLC survey are a really big warning that library workers need to be thinking more creatively and imaginatively about the futures of our libraries, and need to be exploring scenarios for the future like those presented in The bookends scenarios.  We ignore these at our peril.