“The Impact of the Internet on Public Library Use” article outlined the results of a study done by George D’Elia, Corrine Jorgensen, Joseph Woelfel and Eleanor Jo Rodger. The study wanted to investigate the relationship between the Internet and the library in terms of information seeking individuals. They saw that many services which the library offered were also offered by the Internet, and they wanted to see which ones consumers chose, why and how well this decision fit their information needs. This was done by surveying 3,097 English and Spanish-speaking adults (above the age of 18) through a Random Digit Dialing telephone survey on their use of the library and the internet, their information needs and the service they expected (and to what extent received) from both the library and the internet.
After analyzing the data, the group came to the conclusion that at this point the use of the library and the use of the internet are seen by a majority of the public as “complementary.” However, the study also concluded that “…the Internet was overwhelmingly preferred over the library for the majority of uses, many of which fall under the library’s traditional mission of information provision.” When discussing services provided by the library and the Internet, “…the users of both the Internet and the library rated the Internet superior to the library for 10 out of 16 service characteristics.” D’Elia, Jorgensen, Woelfel and Rodger basically recommend that the library begin actively reevaluating their mission statement and role in society, something they don't see happening at this point in time.
In reading the results of this study, were you worried about the future of libraries? Or do you feel it’s impossible to make the issue so black and white? Will library patrons who use the internet really chose between the two and never look back?
To look at this issue historically, is the idea of libraries competing with another service, business or institution only a new phenomenon? Or were there other periods in library history where this occurred?