OCLC recently published a report with the admittedly less-than-thrilling title "College Students' Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources" which examines the information-seeking habits and preferences of 400 international college students. They surveyed college students from Australia, Canada, India, Singapore, United Kingdom and the United States about what they think about libraries and search engines. The results are somewhat suprising, in that the library turns out to not be as irrelevant to students' intellectual lives as much of the NetGen literature suggests. The authors of the report do suggest, however, that the library has a marketing problem, in that its 'brand' is the book. They write:
"In a world where the sources of information and the tools of discovery continue to proliferate and increase in relevance to online information consumers, the brand differentiation of the library is still books. The library has not been successful in leveraging its brand to incorporate growing investments in electronic resources and library Web-based services. Can the brand be expanded or updated to be more relevant, to be more than books?"
One obvious direction that the authors explore is library as place. The brand can grow to include good lighting, comfortable furniture, friendly support staff, and good coffee; the library as Starbucks model. The direction that I wished they had spent more time on is library in cyberspace: how does the library learn to assert and define itself on-line? Here one thinks of emerging tools such as federated search, social bookmarking, and integration with course management systems that can improve the chances that students won't just turn to Google for everything. The authors suggest that this is a space where the students have difficulty differentiating the library from the rest of the internet. If that is true, does that mean we should just give up in that domain? We can't compete with Google, but how can we co-opt it?
How to cite this workMichael Roy. "The Book Brand: NetGen's View of the Library." Academic Commons Issue Name (Spring 2008): 09 May 2013. <http://www.academiccommons.org/>.
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