Sharing, Privacy & Trust in Our Networked World - OCLC Membership Report - October 2007

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The practice of using a social network to establish and enhance relationships based on some common ground—shared interests, related skills, or a common geographic location—is as old as human societies, but social networking has flourished due to the ease of connecting on the Web. This OCLC membership report explores this web of social participation and cooperation on the Internet and how it may impact the library’s role, including:

* The use of social networking, social media, commercial and library services on the Web
* How and what users and librarians share on the Web and their attitudes toward related privacy issues
* Opinions on privacy online
* Libraries’ current and future roles in social networking

The report is based on a survey (by Harris Interactive on behalf of OCLC) of the general public from six countries—Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States—and of library directors from the U.S. The research provides insights into the values and social-networking habits of library users.
OCLC releases new international research study

DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 22 October 2007—OCLC, the world's largest library research and service organization, has released the third in a series of reports that scan the information landscape to provide data, analyses and opinions about users' behaviors and expectations in today's networked world.

The new international report, Sharing, Privacy and Trust in Our Networked World examines four primary areas:

* Web user practices and preferences on their favorite social sites
* User attitudes about sharing and receiving information on social spaces, commercial sites and library sites
* Information privacy; what matters and what doesn't
* U.S. librarian social networking practices and preferences; their views on privacy, policy and social networks for libraries

"We know relatively little about the possibilities that the emerging social Web will hold for library services," said Cathy De Rosa, Global Vice President of Marketing, OCLC, and principal contributor to the report. "More than a quarter of all Web users across the countries we surveyed are active users of social spaces. As Web users become both the consumers and the creators of the social Web, the implications and possibilities for libraries are significant. The research provides insights into what these online library users will expect."

OCLC commissioned Harris Interactive to administer the online surveys for the report. Over 6,100 respondents, ages 14 to 84, from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, were surveyed. The surveys were conducted in English, German, French and Japanese. OCLC and Harris also surveyed 382 U.S. library directors.

Among the report highlights:

* The Internet is familiar territory. Eighty-nine percent (89 percent) of respondents have been online for four years or more and nearly a quarter have been using the Internet for more than 10 years.
* The Web community has migrated from using the Internet to building it—the Internet's readers are rapidly becoming its authors.
* More than a quarter of the general public respondents currently participate on some type of social media or social networking site; half of college students use social sites.
* On social networking sites, 39 percent have shared information about a book they have read, 57 percent have shared photos/videos and 14 percent have shared self-published information.
* Over half of respondents surveyed feel their personal information on the Internet is kept as private, or more private, than it was two years ago.
* Online trust increases with usage. Seventy percent (70 percent) of social networking users indicate they always, often or sometimes trust who they communicate with on social networking sites.
* Respondents do not distinguish library Web sites as more private than other sites they are using.
* Thirteen percent (13 percent) of the public feels it is the role of the library to create a social networking site for their communities.

Sharing, Privacy and Trust in Our Networked World is the third in a series of reports that study the information environment and how libraries are addressing the needs of today's information users. The new study follows the 2005 Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources report, which looks at what users think of libraries in the digital age, and The 2003 OCLC Environmental Scan: Pattern Recognition, the award-winning report that describes issues and trends that are impacting and will impact OCLC and libraries.

Like the two earlier reports, Ms. De Rosa said she hopes the new report will spark discussion and interest in libraries and among library professionals. She will be speaking about the study and its findings at meetings and conferences in the weeks and months to come.

"We hope the findings challenge our views of the role of social networks in the future of libraries," said Ms. De Rosa. "We also hope that the user viewpoints revealed in the survey results will guide the evolution of policies and practices affecting access, privacy, sharing and participation on the World Wide Web."

Sharing, Privacy and Trust in Our Networked World is available for download free of charge at Print copies of the 280-page report will also be available for purchase from the same site beginning October 29.