Posted by: Memo | July 19, 2007

Libraries, and the people who don’t go to them

Peter Brantley from the O’Reilly radar has an article that raises some hackles on how library usage has been dropping faster than Paris Hilton’s morals. Granted, his article starts on a different track but goes on in response to a talk a friend of his from the University of Illinois’ Graduate School of Library and Information Science gave to the British Library, which included scary usage graphs. My first thought was ‘Wow, are libraries really experiencing that sort of decline?’

These statistics come from a larger collection of research libraries – the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) – than my own organization represents, many of whom are smaller; typically DLF institutions are more idiosyncratic in their profiles. The statistics that Jerry and I generated use median figures across all ARL member institutions for which data exist on the variables utilized (year endpoint = 2003).

But my gut feeling is that libraries have strong numbers of (physical) library users, and it may be that many of them are also finding online access to library services that much more convenient…

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