Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Perceptions of Libraries

On June 14, I attended a presentation made by George Needham, Vice President of Member Services, OCLC. His talk was centered around three OCLC publications: The 2003 OCLC Environmental Scan, Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources, and the soon-to-be-published Sharing, Privacy and Trust in Our Networked World.

The 2003 OCLC Environmental Scan identifies the "information consumer" as an individual comfortable in the virtual world who is self-sufficient, prefers self-service, and is satisfied with the seamless presentation of information on the Web. There is a trend toward disaggregation of content, services, technology, economics and institutions and there is an increase in collaboration and social networking.

Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources is the result of an online survey conducted in 6 countries. Libraries are still used by information seekers. The respondents trust information from search engines and libraries equally. George spoke about the role of the library and branding or marketing libraries. The role of the "civilian" is paramount. As an example, he shared two slogans used by libraries: "Save time. Get better grades." and "Ask us. We answer."
The first refers to the patron's role, while the second one is about the library.

“Libraries will continue to share an expanding infosphere with an increasing number of content producers, providers and consumers. Information consumers will continue to self-serve from a growing information smorgasbord. The challenge for libraries is to clearly define and market their relavant place in that infosphere—their services and collections both physical and virtual.”
(p. 8)

The OCLC reports are about responding to changes in the information landscape by understanding how our communities perceive libraries. Mr. Needham used the following quotes to illustrate his points:
"When you're riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount."--Anonymous.
"It is not necessary to change. Survival is optional."--W. Edwards Deming.
The 2-hour presentation was excellent.