A new report from the Colorado Library Research Service.
by: Zeth Lietzau and Jamie Helgren
Libraries’ online presence is a constant topic of conversation, with anecdotal insights dominating the discussion. A broader picture of what libraries across the country – and throughout Colorado – are doing with web technologies and web 2.0 tools is a little harder to find. That’s where LRS stepped in with a paint brush.
In spring 2010, LRS staff repeated its observational study (first conducted in 2008) of U.S. Public Libraries and the Use of Web Technologies. We visited the websites of 689 public libraries in the U.S., including all those in Colorado, to see what they were doing with their web presences. Our final report is now ready for your perusal, with some interesting findings related to the use of both older and newer web technologies, as well as the success of the libraries that have adopted these tools.
For starters, take a look at libraries’ use of Facebook. It’s common knowledge that the social networking site is popular around the world, but just two years ago public libraries in the United States had hardly begun to investigate its potential as a way to reach their patrons. Now, 1 in 3 public libraries across the country (32%) have a Facebook account.
While social media sites have taken off in public libraries, adoption of other tools has slowed. Basic web services such as online account access showed little increase, as did email reference and blogs. Chat reference is still the most popular virtual reference tool in Colorado, with a much higher percentage of libraries in the state than in the nation offering the service.