Monday, 21 January 2013

Reader survey results and responses

Readers IJust read Reader survey results by Joseph Esposito (via a Scholarly Kitchen entry).

This is the summary of the results of a reader survey conducted by the author and Joe Wikert.  These are my own professional librarian take-aways:

  1. So there are plenty of readers directly purchasing books from the publisher?  Perhaps, as libraries, with our role firmly between the publisher and our readers, we could facilitate those transactions.  I WANT my patrons to get the information/entertainment they want and it doesn't have to always be through something actually IN our collection.  If a student wants to buy the book, I'd like to help her get the right one.  Maybe we could even convince the publisher/provider to give them a discount since the library helped out.
  2. It's suggested that while readers tend to like to purchase books online, they still like to browse in print.  Great!  The library is still purchasing plenty of print, so perhaps we should be showcasing it more/better?  More displays and sprinkled liberally around our buildings, not just at the front door.  Public library tend to do it better than academic, but we could all do it more.  Of course it has to be controlled better:  searching readers need to be able to find it, not just browsing readers.  We could also make our stacks a little more browser-friendly with labels, maps, signs, etc.
  3. It's mixed as to what format is more popular:  print or electronic.  There are still big numbers on both sides and plenty of overlap.  This suggests that our collection development policy of collecting either or both as appropriate seems right on the money.  I'd like to have more firm data on what "appropriate" really is but lacking that, subject expertise like we tend to have in academic libraries will do.  Not much for libraries to really improve on.
  4. Finally, the author seems to bemoan the decreasing value of certain traditional sources of book reviews and opinion information.  I'm not so sure.  This kind of information has always been useful and desired but limited to the "experts".  But reviews are more important as the provider is deemed more similar to the reader.  A doctor may say a certain book is great but a librarian saying the same thing will be more influential to me.  Therefore, the more open collections of reviews are, the more likely I'll find someone that has an opinion about the book I think I may want and who is "like me" enough for me to be moved by their opinion.  Also, the more opinion info there is out there, the more options the library has for obtaining this data and adding it to the collection to help OUR readers.  We're doing this more and more, but we have to keep going.
Anything I missed?

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