OCLC issued an environmental scan report this week, relating the general public’s use of the Internet and other information technologies (specifically, cell phones) in 2007. In addition to surveying members of the general public from the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Japan and the U.K., the study also garnered information from U.S. library directors.
Sharing, privacy and trust in our networked world (pdf) explores four primary areas:
- User practices and preferences on their favorite social spaces
- User attitudes about sharing and receiving information on social spaces, commercial sites and library sites
- Information privacy; what matters and what doesn’t
- Librarian social networking practices and preferences; their views on privacy, policy and the potential of social networks for libraries
Interesting findings: Use of the Internet is up, but use of library websites is down. Within the past year, nearly 97% of respondents used email, 90% used search engines, but only 20% used library web pages (compared with 30% in 2005). Almost 90% have used the Internet for 4 or more years, and 30% of respondents over the age of 50 have been online for more than 10 years. Including both print and online materials, respondents are spending more time reading, and those who use social websites tend to read more than those who do not.
You will find much more information in the 280-page report, much of it in easy-to-read charts and graphics.