Thursday, November 01, 2007

New Older Adult Data from OCLC!

In my previous post, I wrote a quick summary of the recent Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) report called "Sharing, Privacy and Trust in our Networked World". The OCLC added a page called "What do you think?" to enable people to comment about this study. I commented on the study and asked if they could provide more information concerning older adult online activities. Well, I am very excited that they have answered my request! Joanne Cantrell, from the Market Research Department of OCLC, stated that:

"More than half of the respondents 50+ have used a search engine, browsed/purchased items and books online, used an online banking site, and have sent or received an e-mail during the last 12 months. Except for the usage of online dating sites and business-related social sites, the 50+ age group was less likely than respondents ages 14/15 - 21 and 22 - 49 to have participated in interacting activities (e.g., social networking, instant messaging, etc.) and creating activities (e.g., usage of social media sites, creating a Web page, etc.) during the last 12 months."

Joanne Cantrell then posted a link to additional data about older adults - a new graph of Online Activities by Age in pdf format. The most popular online activity of older adults is using email, followed by using search engines, purchasing items online, and online banking. Over 50% of internet users 50+ have bought a book online, although about only 10% had read an e-book. Only about 5% of these older adults blog.

I think that this data shows that older adults are comfortable buying books online, but they are not using our online library catalogs for books or articles. I think that this indicates that libraries need to market these resources to older adults. Also, at this time there are not many older adults using social networking sites. It may be some time before social networks become popular for this age group. Until that time, it may be hard to interest older adults in social networking or social bookmarking activities provided through their library website and online catalog.

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