U.S. Public Libraries and Web 2.0 – Zeth Lietzau of Library Research Service

Data is from research study done by LRS. First question is, why? ‘cause he’s a web geek – and the fact that there was a lot of great info coming out on blogs and in conferences, however, he wasn’t seeing a lot of “who” was using it – no information on the prevalence of how many are using it. Soon, he’ll get numbers on how successfully we are all using it – but that’s coming in a future study. The study focused on public libraries. Next he talked about the methodology – either survey or observational methods. They decided to use an observational study – actually going to library sites and seeing what they do. They visited 600 sites to conduct the study – lots of time, but perfect response rate, consistent response rates (since they are doing it themselves) and avoiding survey fatigue. There are limitations, as well, however. Hidden technologies were just missed – and the information was a snapshot in time. Both means that they could have missed some tech that was either advertised locally or not present at the time they checked the site. They also couldn’t check intranets for 2.0 tools used.
Sample size was split into 5 population groups (including a special “all Colorado libraries” group). They then had to define just what Library 2.0 was. They used the Wikipedia definition – loosely defined and user-centered change. After that they defined what library 2.0 “tools” were. He then went through the survey process – to make a long story short, they went through a lot of work to create the “pieces of Library 2.0” part.
Pieces of Library 2.0
• Online catalog
• Personalized Library Account
• Blogs/RSS
• Virtual Reference
• Wikis
• Social Networking
• Podcasting
1st point – web/catalog presence – ubiquitous in a 25,000+ pop group, after that it starts to fall off. Under 10,000 pop group had only 73% with a web site. 2nd point – online library cards – many more allow you to log into your library card, fewer allow you to get a library account online. 45% of 100,000+ libraries have online library card signup – surprised the survey takers. 3rd point – blogs/rss feeds – blogs seemed to be different – more in the less than 10,000 pop group than the next 2 groups up the chart. Email & chat reference was also very well represented in the upper ranges, not so much in the under 500,000 people ranges. Social networking isn’t yet into more than a third of any size library group. Under 10,000 libraries – fewer than 2% of those have any social network presence (MySpace, FB or Flickr).
Results – we are still moving forward pretty slowly. Fewer than half of the libraries in the states have anything 2.0. “There are a lot of libraries doing cool things with 2.0 – but it hasn’t reached critical mass yet”.
Early adopters scale – 29 point scale that allowed them to identify early adopter libraries. He then started in on characteristics of early adopter libraries. They tend to have 50% more staffing than libraries that don’t do all this stuff. They also have more funding. Audio/Visual collections are much bigger than non-early adopters – Zeth thought that was telling because it shows that they are innovating all over the place. These libraries are also getting more use – visits and circ stats are higher.
2 ratios that didn’t affect the survey – number of books and number of public access computers. The last one, PCs per capita, was *almost* statistically significant, but not quite.
What this tells Zeth – libraries that are successful are choosing to put resources in Web 2.0 technologies. Next step is to see if it helps *make* them more successful.
PDF of presentation is at blog – they are 2/3 of the way done with the print report.

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