Internet Librarian 2012 – Day 2 – Keynote

Day 2, my full day of just being an attendee.

Morning Keynote: Lee Rainie & the Changing Roles of Libraries

Pew Internet & Life mentioned in The Onion. “This is a parody, but it is *so* awesome.”

1. Broadband ‘revolution’
[Insert slide of Networked creators and curators]

2. Mobile revolution – 89% of adults in the US have a mobile connection
A lot of mobile behavior is actually sendentary behavior, but in a multitasking mobile context.
And yes, 38% of the 55% of folks aged 65+ who are on the internet, are on social media. And not only can they connect with the younger generations who were already there, but they
“It’s like the Resurrection!” – an older gent in Nashville upon hearing about the magic of social networking.

3. People are doing different things on different kinds of mobile devices
On smartphones, they’re snacking.
On tablets, they’re eating longer, more relaxed meals.
Tablet use spikes before bedtime – among other things, people are getting the leg up on tomorrow’s news before they go to sleep.

4. To study the changing role of public libraries and library users int he digital age. 3-year grant from Gates Foundation.
First report: Rise of ereading
The early adopters of ebooks and eaudiobooks are book omnivores – they want reading in whatever formats they can get it
The early adopters look like early adopters.
Computer is as much a pathway to ereading as ereaders.

5. Second report: Perceptions of libraries
Library card holders vs. fans
58% ages 16+ are card holders – white, educated, women
65% ages 16+ say ‘important’ – women, African-American, income is not predictive,

6. Nine takeaways for libraries

  1. Ereading is taking off because e-gadgets are taking off
  2. The gadget doesn’t make the reader, but it may change the reader
  3. Ebook readers are reading omnivores (and probably influencers)
  4. Ebook readers are not platform snobs – they’ll take books in whatever format they can get them
  5. Library users are not always the same as library fans
  6. Ebooks borrowing has foothold, and a whopping upside
  7. Library users are book buyers
  8. Library borrowing patterns are changing
  9. Collections are changing

7. Third report: Young readers
Not nearly as surprising as you’d think – (I admit, I zoned out while doing something on my laptop. Bad me.)

11 early insights

  1. Meta-question among librarians: Should we try to be all things all people or do a few things really well?
    Patrons in focus groups aren’t helping answer this question: they want the new stuff while keeping all the familiar stuff
  2. Libraries are widely appreciated for their meaning ot their communities / more than personal value.
    But makeovers are warranted – ‘elitist,’ ‘stressed,’ ‘behind desk walls’
  3. Libraries still equal ‘books’ to many patrons. Ebook situation is still an uncertainty and in flux.
  4. Many, many are unaware of the array of services libraries offer, including their website material….and they stress the need for better marketing. “Patrons want you to be more aggressive in telling your stories.”
  5. Parents of minor children have the strongest feelings, fondest memories, and hope for life-lessons for their kids (respect for property, respect for borrowing public goods, etc). “You never have to say no to your kids at the library.”
  6. Technology is as important a service as book lending. Job applications and searches are big new features. Meanwhile, librarians have a love/hate relationship with technology. “Why do we have to be tech support for the world?” **
  7. Libraries are being judged in comparison to other services and offerings int he world: Genius bars, Amazon recommendations, personal shoppers
  8. Amenities and atmosphere matter – segmenting spaces is appealing. Having unruly adults in the same space that the teenagers are trying to get work done won’t cut it.
  9. People would really appreciate coordination with other local institutions. “Do what you do best, and link to the rest.” – Jeff Jarvis
  10. A surprisingly big chunk of Americans are totally disconnected from the library. Tend to be poorer, isolated either physically or socially, and otherwise exactly the people who we feel may need us most.
  11. You’re on your own inventing the future, libraries. Patron focus groups are interestingly silent about ‘what’s next.’

“It’s going to be a supply-side revolution.” We are going to have to iteratively figure it out on our own.

** Answer? Because we offered the technology, we offered the computers, and because we have positioned ourselves as ‘the place things to go and learn about stuff.’ It’s natural for patrons to make the connections between the machines we offer access to and learning about them.