Thursday, October 25, 2007

Statistics on Older Adults from the Recent OCLC Report

The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) is a nonprofit library service and research organization which creates cataloging records and hosts the WorldCat union catalog. This catalog has records from 9,031 different libraries. The OCLC has just published a report called "Sharing, Privacy and Trust in our Networked World", based on a study of over 6,000 respondents from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States (found via the Tame the Web blog). Twenty-seven percent of these respondents were age 50+. The study found that "The clear majority of adults over the age of 50 have experience using the internet." (p. 1-2). This is an excellent report about how people are using the internet, how they view privacy issues online, and it also includes statistics about library web site use.

Here are some of the age 50+ group statistics from the study:

  • a majority of 50+ respondents have used the internet
  • 30% have been online for more than a decade
  • 40% have used instant messaging
  • 31% have read blogs
  • Those who used a commercial site chose Amazon, Ebay, and Walmart as their favorite commercial sites.
  • 22% used their library website
  • Those who have used a social networking site chose as their favorite site with Myspace as their second choice.
  • Those who have used a social media site picked YouTube, Snapfish, and Yahoo!Photos as their favorite sites. (Note: Yahoo!Photos is now closed).
  • The most common reasons for joining a social networking site was to be part of a group or community, because their friends use that site, or because the website is useful.
  • Older adults had more privacy concerns about the internet than younger people.
What does this report mean for older adult library services? If libraries are going to engage older adults with their library website and perhaps offer online social networking of some sort through the library website, this is data we need to consider. Older adults like to be "part of a community" and libraries can create online communities for different hobbies and clubs that are located within our physical community. However, I think that the greatest opportunity for libraries is to have a website that "is useful". We can be a portal to local information, especially local history, and also provide ways for people to record their own historical information. In addition, we can provide authoritative links to useful internet sites for older adults.

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Jack Payne said...

Fascinating findings on library users. I've been curious about such demographics and habits breakdowns since my novel, Six Hours Past Thursday, is in about 500 public libraries, plus some 400 college and university libraries (mostly law libraries). I've often wondered, over the past couple of years, what kind of people are reading this kind of book.

Thank for the info.

Ref_Librarian said...

Thank you for your comment. I looked at your blog, "Six Hours past Thursday". It has very interesting and useful information about con games and scams.