Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pew Presentation: Libraries in 2020

I found this Pew Presentation on Libraries in 2020 posted on iLibrarian.  The first half of the slides is focused on the rise of use of the internet, mobile, and social networking among different population groups.  Intriguing results include:

  • Much higher use of mobile computing among African-American and Hispanics than European Americans.
  • 85% of those who do not own an e-reader have no intention of buying one in the near future.
  • 64% of 18-29 year-olds have used their phones to "get information they needed right away" [Disturbingly, 30% of this group admitted to "pretending to be using the phone to avoid interacting with those around them."]
  • App downloading is highest among the 18-29 y.o. and 64% of apps were to "learn about something [they're] interested in" and 53% were to "get info about a destination [they're] visiting"
  • Over half of users of search engines consider the information they find to be fair and unbiased, as well as mostly accurate.
Regarding reading habits, the Pew groups found that 19% of respondents did not read a book (of any format) in the last year.  Interestingly, reading declined with age, with 86% of 16-17 year olds reading and 68% of 65+ year olds reading.  I'm wondering if that is due in no small part to declining eye sight.  Ebook readership is growing, with a corresponding decline in print-book use.  But e-book readers are more likely to be over 50 years of age, college educated and with household earnings greater than $50,000.  This is no real surprise.  Nor is it a surprise that most e-book readers look first to the online vendors for ebooks and only 12% look to their public library.  I'm wondering, though, if this would be any different in this demographic group for print books.  Something that is hopeful for the librarian (and the pro-reading advocate) - of those who purchased tablet PCs or ebook readers, 41% and 35% (respectively) say they are reading more.  

Finally, the presentation focuses on how all of these aspects of internet, mobile, SNS, and ebook usage will impact libraries in the near future.  First, they stress the importance of quality of information to individuals - notably regarding the "3 V's" - volume, valence (relavence), and velocity.  Next they describe the "operating system of the learning environment" which is "anytime, anywhere, any device".  Actually, this is not new - library Web developers have been working on this issue for over ten years now.  Finally, they provide a list of roles of the librarian in the near future, including:
  • Sentry
  • Evaluator
  • Filter
  • Certifier
  • Aggregator/Synthesizer
  • Organizer
  • Network Node
  • Facilitator
Hmmmm, doesn't this sound familiar?  Haven't these always been the roles of librarians?  All in all, it sounds like we should keep doing what we've always been doing.

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