When the OCLC Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources report first appeared in December 2005 I pointed out some of the findings about college students included in that report. I suggested that although the overall conclusions of the report were somewhat dismal, I was encouraged that college students, when compared to the general population, appeared more knowledgeable about their institutional library; for them it wasn’t just about books. Now OCLC has issued a version of the Perceptions study, a subset of data, that examines the information-seeking habits and preferences of international college students. This data comes from just the 396 college students who participated in the study. I guess the question is, given that much of the data is a subset of the original report, how much do I gain by getting a copy of this new report. Will I discover any new and eye opening revelations?
The page describing the new report does indicate there are new graphs and additional analysis. That could certainly be helpful. What I liked about the original is that comparisons between college and public library users could be distinguished reasonably well. Afer looking over some of the new report’s sections I would say OCLC has retained the comparisons in a good way. I found it easy to see that college students report going to libraries daily and weekly far more than public library users, or that they use the library web site at twice the rate of other respondents. On the other hand, when it comes to choosing an electronic resource to start research, college students differ little from the general public; they all use search engines first according to this report. For what else could I use the report? Well the next time a faculty member asks me why I think it is he or she who should be promoting library resources moreso than librarians I could pull out this report and show them that students report learning about electronic information sources from faculty far more than they do from librarians. So faculty can play a crucial role in helping to educate students about the library’s electronic resources.
So I think I will get a copy of this new report even though I have a few copies of the original Perceptions report. I think it will make it easier to read and find the data I need. Oh, and I’m also going to get a copy for my boss. I wouldn’t have thought of handing him a copy of the original report, but I think this one is just right for academic administrators.