Magazine article Special Libraries

A Technological Assessment of the SLA Membership: Summary Report

Magazine article Special Libraries

A Technological Assessment of the SLA Membership: Summary Report

Article excerpt

A Technological Assessment of the SLA Membership: Summary Report


In the summer of 1989, SLA undertook a study to assess the use and impact of technology on its membership. The goal of the study was three-fold:

* Determine the current status and impact of specific tools and applications of technology in the workplace;

* Project the short-term requirements of the membership with regard to existing tools and technology; and

* Help plot future directions in the development of tools and applications of technology.

The survey instrument used to conduct the study was developed in spring, 1990. A select group of SLA members were asked to participate in a pretest of the instrument in May and June. Pretest responses resulted in some modifications to the questionnaire. Prior to its dissemination, the questionnaire was also reviewed by the consulting group retained for data tabulation and guidance, Association Research Group of Alexandria, VA.

In mid-August 1989, 10,695 questionnaires were mailed to all members and associate members of SLA. 4,116 responses were received by the deadline date in late September, providing a response rate of 38.48%. In terms of the geographic segmentation of the participants, the response rates were 37.75% (3,665) from U.S. members; 44.45% (425) from Canadian members and 45% (50) from elsewhere. Only .1% or six did not indicate a geographic location of the facility in which they are employed.

The report that follows summarizes the salient findings of this study. It should be n oted that the data reported are the univariant or aggregate data from all respondents. While the data have been tabulated for the geographic segments of the membership, they indicate a basic homogeneity among the membership. Instances in which data for the United States and Canada differ in a statistically significant way will be noted. Detailed tables of all data will be available in the full report of this study. It should be noted that the data from elsewhere spans the globe from Eastern Europe to the Far East to Scandinavia and represents a relatively small number of responses. These data are also presented in the complete tables to be published in the full report.

What is in Use in Libraries and

Information Centers?

One of the focal points of the study was the list of 33 applications of technology and tools commonly used in libraries and information centers and their parent organizations.

Of the 4,116 respondents only 1.9% or 80 indicated that none of the applications of technology or tools listed in Table 1 are in use in their libraries/information centers. As expected in this dynamic field, this two percent is a very small group of respondents which for one reason or another do not use these particular tools or applications of technology available today.

The usage in most cases could easily be considered slightly higher if the percentages from the category "purchased but not yet implemented" were added to these figures. In the instance of least impact, external online databases, .5% have purchased but not yet implemented. The greatest impact is a 4.8% response to circulation systems which have been purchased but not yet implemented.

In addition to determining what SLA members have in use in their libraries/information centers, the goal was also to determine future plans. Several questions dealt with this issue. As part of the question related to the tools and technologies listed in Table 1, participants were asked to indicate which of these they are planning to purchase within one year. The most frequent response was CD-ROM with 11.8% of the respondents planning this purchase within one year. The second most cited item planned for purchase within one year was an online catalog (8.9%); the third, circulation system (7.4%); the fourth, online catalog-remote access (7. …

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