The Pew Research Centre is a source of interesting statistics in regards to (Americans’) use of the internet and libraries. Although one of my pet peeves is the use of data about Americans in planning services for Canadians, I think there is much a Canadian librarian can learn from the Pew Research Center’s studies. Witness this stunner from one of their latest studies: Younger Americans’ Library Habits and Expectations
three-quarters (75%) of younger Americans say they have read at least one book in print in the past year, compared with 64% of adults ages 30 and older.
Given my own experience in a large and a small public library in Canada I would say that this is more or less true for Canadian teens/young adults as well. How to inform the media of this truth?
An overview of PewResearchCenter’s latest findings about libraries. Note that data for this study was drawn from the United States and its findings apply to public libraries for the most part.
I have just finished reading Michael Lewis’ Moneyball and have thought that perhaps the blindness towards the significance of statistics might also be present among those who run libraries. The BeerBrarian suggests some possible parallels:
Libraries aren’t baseball teams, but if they were, mine couldn’t compete with others in the area. We don’t have the resources. And this is where moneyball comes in. There are market inefficiencies for libraries, that librarians and library staff should be exploiting them. A couple stand out.
First, we are surrounded by a wealth of data about how libraries are used, how many books get checked out and if a run of call numbers is particularly popular, when the building sees the most foot traffic, which databases see the most use,… I could go on. All of these are measurable, and decisions on resource allocation should be data-driven. Let’s go out there and collect that data. It’s free, and under-utilized.
Second, and also free, librarians should be educating patrons (and faculty and students, in that order, if you work in an academic library) about the free scholarly resources that exist online. In particular, I’m thinking of the Directory of Open Access Journals
. Compared to the cost of databases that aggregate journals and their articles, open access can’t be beat on price. They don’t cost libraries a thing. They are priced inefficiently, but never mind that; get those DOAJ titles into your catalog, or link to it from your library’s homepage, or promote it on a blog, or tweet it, or all of the above.