Librarians “Intentionally Marginalizing” Themselves…07.13.10

13 07 2010

A couple of days ago I posted “Survey Illustrates Many Librarians Slow Adopters“.  I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees the implications that should be staring the majority of librarians in the face.

Here is an insightful posting on Library Journal from insider Roy Tennant regarding the recent WebJunction Library Staff Report Their Use of Online Tools:

“Since my career has focused on technology, I run with a fairly geeky crowd. They range from hardcore coders to folks who know the ins-and-outs of wikis and blogs. These people are very well-read and highly connected.  So a post on the WebJunction site (disclosure: WebJunction and I work for the same outfit) about a recent survey they did came as a rather rude awakening. ‘In a survey to a random sample of WebJunction members this spring,’ Sharon Streams writes in the post, ‘respondents answered a question on how frequently they used online tools, either in or outside of their professional life.’

Before I go any further I want to highlight a couple things: a) the sample was WebJunction members, which means by and large library staff, and b) their answers were to include use of these tools both professionally and personally — in other words any use whatsoever.

Maybe you can tell where I’m going with this. While old school mailing lists fared the best, with nearly half of the respondents using them ‘daily,’ from there things went to hell in a hand basket. Only 35% of respondents use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis, and online magazines came in at 21% of respondents using them daily. From there only a handful of respondents used anything on a daily basis.

Viewed through a different lens, just a tad over 60% of the respondents used any of the listed tools on any basis more frequent than quarterly. And that would be, yes, email lists. Social networking sites: 55% used them monthly or more; Blogs: 34%. It’s even more bleak when you look at only responses from public library staff.

If you aren’t plugged in, how do you know what’s coming down the road? How do you forsee changes that you will need to accommodate? How will you spot opportunities? Even more importantly: How can you serve the needs of a clientele that you no longer understand?

Someone I know commented that ‘it looked to me like a graphical representation of an industry that was intentionally marginalizing itself.’ Exactly.”

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