Online Collaboration

Library Staff Report Their Use of Online Tools

By SharonS | July 6th, 2010 | 15 Comments

In a survey to a random sample of WebJunction members this spring, respondents answered a question on how frequently they used online tools, either in or outside of their professional life. We found the results interesting. Nearly half of the respondents (49%) use email “listservs” daily. One-third of the respondents (35%) use professional or social networking sites daily. A quarter or less of the respondents use the following daily: online news or magazines (21%), blogs (14%), RSS feeds (14%), bookmarking sites (10%), wikis (9%), employment sites (6%) and online courses (3%).The chart below shows the full results.

2010 survey Usage of Online Tools

When we separated the responses by library type, we saw some notable differences. Academic library respondents are more likely to use the following online tools daily than public library respondents:

  • Email listservs (73% of Academic vs. 44% of Public)
  • Professional or social networking sites (44% vs. 32%)
  • Blogs (29% vs. 10%)
  • RSS feeds (32% vs. 10%)
  • Wikis (17% vs. 7%)

Significant differences were found among locations as well. Urban library respondents (72%) are more likely to use email listservs daily than suburban (57%) and rural (45%) library respondents. Also, urban library respondents (18%) are more likely to use RSS feeds daily than rural library respondents (9%). Suburban library respondents (40%) are more likely to use professional or social networking sites daily than urban (31%) and rural (31%) library respondents. It was also reported that more than one quarter (28%) of respondents use web-based content (on blogs, wikis, social networking sites and more) toward professional development.

Finally, when we compare these results with those to a similar question posed to our members a year ago, we see evidence of some shifts in online tool use. In 2009, 61% of respondents reported using listservs daily, which is 12% higher than this year. Meanwhile, the percent of respondents who report never using social networking sites dropped from 39% to 30%. And online reading seems to have decreased as well, with 11% drops in those who report reading blogs or online news sites daily. The trend away from email toward social networking sites like Facebook and twitter is not exclusive to library staff: this shift has been reported in the media as happening across the globe. So libraries can expect that patrons will be more likely to want to interact with their library via social networking tools and to expect that their library will support their use of these tools on the publicly accessible computers.