OCLC survey among British, German and Dutch librarians shows changing priorities

    A survey conducted by OCLC in spring of this year among librarians from the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands shows that practitioners expect library usage to  change considerably.  About three quarters expected a rise in online visits within the next year, and two-thirds of those who responded anticipate a change in the primary reason to visit the library in the next five years.

    Libraries: A Snapshot of Priorities and Perspectives is now available on the OCLC website, where reports for the United KingdomGermany and theNetherlands can be downloaded.

    The increase in online visits that is expected by 71-85 percent of librarians (percentages vary by country) contrasts dramatically with their expectations of low  growth in physical visits in the next 12 months.  Demonstrating perhaps that users will continue to rely on libraries for getting their information, but not necessarily by coming through the library doors.

    The primary reason for library use will also change in the next five years, according to 59-71 percent of responding librarians. With access to online databases and journals increasing in popularity as a primary reason in 2017 for ‘visits,’ the survey confirms the view that the borrowing of physical items is still the primary reason for visiting libraries today.

    As a library cooperative, OCLC initiates in-depth studies and topical surveys regularly to help libraries better understand issues and trends that affect librarianship and help plan for the future. “This is the first time we conducted a survey specifically among European librarians, so that the report can focus on the findings that are relevant for this particular part of the world,” said Eric van Lubeek, managing director of OCLC EMEA.

    According to the survey, among the top priorities for libraries to focus their activities are delivering eContent, forming community partnerships, the library’s role in the future of higher education, visibility of the library’s collection and demonstration of the library value to its funders.

    There were 279 librarians from the United Kingdom, 143 librarians from Germany and 152 librarians from the Netherlands who participated in the survey held among public and academic library staff and management. OCLC conducted a similar study among librarians in the United States in 2011. Snapshot reports from all these surveys can be found on the OCLC website www.oclc.org/reports