I’ve been meaning to write about my impressions of the “web wins” segment outlined in OCLC’s great report “From Awareness to Funding.” The report divides library supporters into various segments, aligning them in a pyramid. Top supporters at the peak, with less enthusiastic supporters all the way down.
Web Wins is a segment in the third tier, which means while they might support library funding, they’re significant barriers to their support, and that when you build a levy campaign, you can’t really count them in.
What put me over the line to write about the Web Wins group was an important blog for that segment, Lifehacker, dissing libraries. A few days ago, Lifehacker listed the Top 10 Ways to Find Better Answers Online (that Aren’t Google) and didn’t mention library reference services like Ask-Wa. I left a comment asking a bit indirectly why libraries weren’t listed, and I got one supportive answer.
The OCLC report seems to accept the storyline that if you’re a digital native and that you’re comfortable using the web, there’s very little that the library can do to drag you from the web. But, if you dig deeper into the data, you actually find some very important lines between the group and the library.
In their survey responses, Web Wins people use the library less than the average in most categories (check out fiction, check out non-fiction, read newspaper or magazines), except for two categories.
Web wins uses the library more than average to do homework or study (35 percent vs. 27 percent) and do research/work for business or place of employment (31 to 26). My reading of this is that while the web wins for this segment in general, when push comes to shove, they use the library.
Looking at these two unique uses of the library, as a work and study space for serious endeavors, there is a route to bringing the Web Wins group into the fold. Just from their name, it’s obvious that information is important to this segment, libraries are just being out-competed.
When you look at their level of library support, it seems like this group is just on the other side of the line of being at least average library supporters. On OCLC’s scale, Web Wins is at 90, with the average being at 100 and the lowest probable supporter segment at 136. The line isn’t very far away for Web Wins.
What I don’t think will happen is that libraries will drag this segment off the web, but the web services the library already provides (and will develop and provide in the future) will become an important part of their tool belt.