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OCLC releases new membership report: Perceptions of Libraries, 2010: Context and Community

DUBLIN, Ohio, January 20, 2011—Americans are using libraries a lot more as the economic downturn has impacted lives, careers and incomes. Americans see increased value in libraries and the value that libraries provide to their communities, and report even stronger appreciation of the value librarians bring to the information search experience, according to a new membership report by OCLC, a nonprofit library services and research organization.

Perceptions of Libraries, 2010: Context and Community is a follow-up to the 2005 Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources. The new report provides updated information and new insights into information consumers and their online information habits, preferences and perceptions. Particular attention was paid to how the current economic downturn has affected information-seeking behaviors and how those changes are reflected in the use and perception of libraries.

The OCLC membership report explores:

• Technological and economic shifts since 2005
• Lifestyle changes Americans have made during the recession, including increased use of the library and other online resources
• How a negative change to employment status impacts use and perceptions of the library
• How Americans use online resources and libraries in 2010
• Perceptions of libraries and information resources based on life stage, from teens to college students, to senior Americans.

The membership report is based on U.S. data from an online survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of OCLC. OCLC analyzed and summarized the results to produce Perceptions of Libraries, 2010: Context and Community, which is available for download on the OCLC Web site free of charge. Print copies of the report are available for a nominal fee to cover the cost of printing and shipping.

Cathy De Rosa, OCLC Global Vice President of Marketing, principal contributor to the membership report, said changes in the information landscape and the impact of the economic downturn made it important to update the 2005 survey findings.

“Five years is at least one information generation in the digital information age,” said Ms. De Rosa. “To put the pace of change in perspective consider that in 2005 there was no Twitter (launched July 2006), Facebook hadn’t opened up to the general public (September 2006), and the first iPhone was still two years away (January 2007).”

“Also, in the five years since we published Perceptions 2005, the United States and much of the rest of the world has experienced a massive economic downturn,” Ms. De Rosa continued. “We know instinctively that the global recession must be affecting how people use and perceive information resources and library services, but we wanted to find out more about how economic factors are impacting both the use and the perception of the library. Having a ‘snapshot’ from 2005 gave us a great opportunity to compare usage and attitudes before and during the recession, and to identify new opportunities for libraries.”

OCLC encourages feedback and discussion about the new membership study at

To see other OCLC membership reports, visit the Web site at

About OCLC
Founded in 1967, OCLC is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world’s information and reducing library costs. More than 72,000 libraries in 170 countries have used OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend, preserve and manage library materials. Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it. OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the world’s largest online database for discovery of library resources. Search WorldCat on the Web at For more information, visit

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