How is library access changing?

Nearly 550,000 people visited our website in 2009. That’s nearly 11% more than that of 2008. Comparatively, BPL saw only a 3% growth in the number of people who entered a physical library location last year. That's a pretty heavy statistic...

... But what about this: in a May 2008 survey conducted by a US company investigating Internet activities in North America, Internet use climbed by a staggering 129% between the years 2000-2008, and 57% of people surveyed stated they were using the Internet to conduct research for school or training. An additional 89% claimed they were searching for information with a search engine (Devine and Egger-Sider 2009).

From the article, The Relationship Between Public Libraries and Google: Too Much Information by Vivienne Waller:
‘To google’ has become a household verb, meaning “to search for information on the Internet.” In the month of April 2008, Google handled 5.1 billion queries in the U.S. alone. Its market share is almost 90 percent in the U.K. and Australia, 80 percent in Europe and 70 percent in the United States."
The number of people who rely heavily on the Internet for their information, with Google as their preferred interface, is enormous. As Internet access becomes more readily available, it becomes the weapon of choice for today’s information seeker. Fewer people are physically crossing the thresholds of libraries, while more are finding us virtually. And "the forward-thinking [library staff member] sees this as an opportunity, not a crisis—a chance to make online resources as complete and easy to use as possible, and to expand the number of people who actually make use of the library’s services… If our users aren’t coming to us, why don’t we go to them?” (Kovacs and Robins 2004)

The face of the library is changing, not only in the look and feel of our collection, but in the way our customers are accessing our materials and approaching reference questions and research in general.

More on "Googling" ...

Devine, Jane and Francine Egger-Sider. Going Beyond Google: The Invisible Web in Learning and Teaching. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2009.

Kovacs, Diane K. and Kara L. Robinson. The Kovacs Guide to Electronic Library Collection Development. New York: Neal Schuman, 2004. 

Waller, Vivienne. "The relationship between public libraries and Google: Too much information". First Monday, Volume 14, Number 9 - 7 September 2009