Monday, March 30, 2009

Friending Libraries CIL 2009 Keynote

Well, Day 1 of Computers In Libraries 2009 has begun.
I usually enjoy Lee Rainie’s opening keynote, even though it has a similar structure each year (hey, it works for me!). This year his opening keynote – “Friending Libraries: The Nodes In People’s Social Networks” – offered a look at the latest Pew research on the state of our nation’s interaction with the internet and more importantly, turned it into something particularly relevant for libraries. In the keynote, Rainie broke down the many types of internet users (and non-users) out there & how we, as libraries, can best serve their needs.
· in 2000, only 46% of adults used the Internet, 5% with broadband, 50% w/cell phone, <10%>53% cloud computing
· fast, mobile connections built around outside servers and storage has produced 10 info ecosystem changes:
· volume, variety, velocity of info increased; no longer tied to time/location to get info; people's expertise goes deeper when interested
· immersive qualities of media are more compelling; relevance of info is far greater and more important
· number of "voices" is greater and more findable; 1/2 of adults are content creators; more teens (2/3 I think he said?) content creators
· social networks more vivid; voting/ventilating enabled; go to social networks to sort through & make sense of info (first place to turn to for help)
· Rainie posited that libraries could/should/need to be nodes in people’s social networks.
· The first breakdown is between the 39% of population motivated by mobility; 61% tied to stationary media.
· 42-43% connect to the online world wirelessly via laptop, 59% via cellphone;
· 5 subgroups in each of these types (mobile vs. stationary users)
· mobile folks: digital collaborators (8%)=IS A GEN X NOT GEN Y GROUP

It’s definitely no longer enough to imagine that there’s the “digital natives” and “nonnatives” (see my notes above about how that most cutting edge, engaged online group – “digital collaborators” are profiled as Gen X, NOT Gen Y).
There are “subgroups” in the general that have different levels of fluency and willingness in dealing with technology to get them online. There are those who are highly jacked in only via their cell phone, in several age groups, but less so via their computers.
The big question that Rainie posed in all of this (and the answers he provided in general terms) was - how can your library can meet the very specific needs of today's users (understanding that those needs and users themselves have changed considerably in recent years)? And libraries have to ask themselves, not only what these constituencies need, but how do they need it delivered?

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