By Meredith Farkas | August 16, 2005
I think I’ve gotten enough responses to close the survey and report my findings. 72 people filled it out, and that figure blew my mind! I thought I’d probably get 20 responses at most. You all rock!!! I learned some interesting facts about my readers though not too many things were big surprises. For your part, it seems like you like my site, though you’re split on whether I should do longer or shorter posts (perhaps a mix is in order)? Here are the results:
1. How did you first learn about Information Wants To Be Free?
Link from a website — 8.5%
Link from a blog — 67.6%
Suggestion from a friend/colleague — 9.9%
Web search — 2.8%
ALA Chicago 2005 Wiki or Library Success Wiki — 1.4%
Other (please specify) — 9.9% (mostly unknown)
Behold! The power of blogs!
2. How do you access posts from the blog?
In Bloglines — 53.5%
In another RSS aggregator — 25.4%
I visit the website — 19.7%
Other — 1.4%
Well, I’m pleased to see that my blog redesign this summer wasn’t a total waste of time since somewhere around 1/5 of my readers still look at it. The percentage of users who read Information Wants to be Free in an RSS aggregator (79%) is interesting in light of the survey which found that only around 1 in 10 blog readers use RSS feeds. I guess for more tech-related blogs the number must be far higher.
3. What is your occupation?
Librarian — 70.4%
Non-librarian, but work in or with libraries — 5.6%
Techie — 4.2%
Teacher/Educator — 1.4%
Other — 18.3% (most were library school students)
Not exactly a big surprise.
4. If you are a librarian, what type of institution do you work in?
Public Library — 26.3%
Academic Library — 43.9%
Corporate Library — 10.5%
Special Library — 3.5%
Vendor — 1.8%
Other — 14% (grad students and a variety of non-traditional library positions)
Most of the bloggers whose blogs I read work in public libraries, so it was interesting to see that most of my readers (or the ones who answered my survey) are academic librarians. Either more academic librarians read blogs, or more academic librarians answer surveys. Or both?
5. If you are a librarian where are you in your career?
Grad student — 19.4%
New librarian (MLS) looking for a job — 11.3%
New librarian (MLS) with a professional position — 21%
Paraprofessional position (no MLS) — 0%
Paraprofessional position (with MLS) – 3.2%
Fairly experienced librarian (2 or more years post MLS) — 11.3%
Experienced librarian (5 or more years post MLS) — 16.1%
Very experienced librarian (10 or more years post MLS) — 11.3%
Experienced librarian in professional position without MLS — 1.6%
Unemployed — 1.6%
Library school professor — 1.6%
Other (please specify) — 1.6%
I was thrilled to see the diversity of my readers in terms of where they are in their career! People from all different places in their career are reading the blog, but most of them are just getting started (like me). How great that over 27% of those who answered the survey had five or more years of library experience! That is something I wouldn’t have guessed. Interesting to see that no non-MLS paraprofessionals read my blog, though I guess I do write a lot about grad school and professional job searching which may only be of interest to a limited group.
6. What is your age?
Under 24 — 1.4%
24 to 30 — 39.4%
31 to 40 — 38%
41 to 50 — 14.1%
51 to 60 — 5.6%
Over 60 — 1.4%
Again, not too surprising, but nice to see that it’s not only Gen-X’ers who are reading blogs.
7. Please rate the following features that you like or dislike about Information Want To Be Free.
Reflective pieces about job hunting, the profession, library school, etc.
Pretty Good 23%
Not my cup of tea 0%
Hate it 0%
Reflective pieces about tech-related topics (wikis, screencasting, library middleware, etc.)
Pretty Good 43%
Not my cup of tea 3%
Hate it 0%
Pretty Good 38%
Not my cup of tea 10%
Hate it 1%
Posts with links to interesting articles, websites, and blog posts
Pretty Good 41%
Not my cup of tea 3%
Hate it 0%
Posts describing my own experiences and offering advice
Pretty Good 36%
Not my cup of tea 0%
Hate it 0%
Well, I definitely didn’t know that about my software reviews, so from now on, unless there’s a really good reason, I’ll just link to really great software rather than writing full-blown reviews. It’s time-consuming to test the software and do a review, so I’m glad I discovered this. Other than that, it seems like you like my reflective posts and advice better than the ones linking to interesting stuff. I guess the latter you can get from a lot of blogs. But I was surprised that my technology-related topics weren’t as popular as I’d expected them to be. Live and learn.
8. Would you rather see…
Shorter, less reflective posts with more frequency — 46.6%
Longer, more reflective posts with less frequency — 53.4%
Hmmm… nearly split down the middle. Maybe I can find a happy medium between the long posts and the short (though I find it hard to keep my reflective posts short). Perhaps if I broke up my longer posts into a series. Or interspersed some shorter ones with the diatribes.
9. Would you like to see more of any of the following? (check as many as you’d like)
Interviews with new voices in librarianship – 66.7%
Reflective pieces about the profession, library school, etc. — 75.4%
Reflective pieces about tech-related topics — 68.1%
Software reviews — 23.2%
Posts with links to interesting articles, websites, and blog posts — 56.5%
Posts reflecting on my own experiences at work — 72.5%
Other (please specify) — 14.5%
Again, posts about my own experiences and observations are preferred to those where I write about technologies. Those who wrote “other” wanted me to write about my experiences adjusting to my new job, getting things done in my new job, and anything from my “voice”. A good number of you were interested in interviews with new voices in librarianship. Perhaps I’ll give that a try when I get more settled in Vermont. It’s also a good thing to do if I get a case of the dreaded writer’s block.
Comments: I was blown away by the positive comments from my readers! Everyone wrote such nice things and encouraged me to continue writing original pieces as opposed to “becoming part of the echo chamber”. Some people wanted me to break my posts up and to intersperse some lighter posts with the more reflective ones. One person wanted to see more links to other blogs. One brought me down to earth by writing “for those of us who are not as ‘up’ with web language yet, perhaps a post on what a ‘wiki’ is and what they are used for. I visited yours and was totally lost from the time the page loaded until I closed the window.” Perhaps I take for granted that everyone is as “up” on this stuff, though I did have a post a while back (maybe February or March?) that explained what a wiki was. The comment reminded me of when I first started reading blogs and I had no clue what RSS was. I’ll definitely take all of the responses to heart and I’ll have to better explain my wiki (at least on the LIBSuccess Wiki site).
Thanks to all of you who participated in my survey. It really helped me to understand what I was doing right and what I might want to change. And thanks to everyone who reads Information Wants To Be Free. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I love writing it!