New OCLC report: At a Tipping Point: Education, Learning and Libraries

The report is available for download at

Interesting phrases from the report:

  • The brand perception of libraries remains firmly planted in tradition. Libraries = books.
  • Inconvenient = irrelevant.  Out of sight, out of mind.  On my mobile, on my mind.
  • The library just “didn’t come to mind” for the majority of online learners.
  • A new future is coming to education—and libraries. The sparks are visible. It’s time to act.
  • Students, parents and online learners see library spaces as convenient places to work. They value online access to materials. They say that libraries provide the tools to get work done and offer relevant, current information.
  • Putting library convenience center stage will increase library relevance.

Full Press release below.

DUBLIN, Ohio, June 25, 2014—A new report suggests that the cumulative weight of changing consumer habits, enabling technologies like MOOCs and mobile, and the high cost of postsecondary education are resetting expectations and bringing permanent changes to education and lifelong learning.

OCLC, the computer library service and research organization, today released At a Tipping Point: Education, Learning and Libraries, the latest in a series of OCLC Membership Reports designed to explore emerging trends that impact libraries and librarianship. The report is available for download at

“OCLC market research has tracked the perceptions of information consumers for more than a decade. Much has changed in the environment over that time. We have seen Google change search habits and Amazon change buying habits. We are now watching online learning services and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) change the landscape and expectations for education and learning,” said Cathy De Rosa, OCLC Vice President for the Americas and Global Vice President of Marketing, and principal contributor to OCLC Membership Reports.

At a Tipping Point looks at the views of online learners—their concerns about the cost of higher education, their experiences with online learning, and their expectations for more convenient, life-based education models in the future.

“The pressure is mounting on traditional models of learning. We see evidence in the research that we may be reaching a tipping point in how consumers think about and would like to manage their education,” said Ms. De Rosa. “Students and parents are eager for more convenience and more options in how they learn—they favor convenience over structure, self-service over predefined options. Students of all ages are having success with online learning and, like most services that have moved onto the Web, consumers expect these new services to continue to improve in quality and increase in popularity.”


Changes to education and online learning have implications and opportunities for libraries. “The same digital forces reshaping education will reshape library users’ expectations, on our campuses and across our communities,” said Ms. De Rosa.


At a Tipping Point provides data on consumer attitudes and perceptions about online learning and MOOCs. The report also includes data about parents’ and students’ perceptions of campus life and their use of libraries—both at the library and online.


The report concludes with some thoughts for strategic consideration and action for libraries.


“As consumers’ needs and preferences shift, libraries have new opportunities to deliver both services and convenience that will increase impact and grow relevance to online learners,” said Ms. De Rosa.


See a brief video about At a Tipping Point: Education, Learning and Libraries on the website at


Visit the OCLC Membership Reports page for more information and to download the study.


About OCLC

Founded in 1967, OCLC is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world’s information and reducing library costs. More than 74,000 libraries in 170 countries have used OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend, preserve and manage library materials. Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it. OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the world’s largest online database for discovery of library resources. Search on the Web. For more information, visit the OCLC website.

One thought on “New OCLC report: At a Tipping Point: Education, Learning and Libraries”

  1. ‘The library just “didn’t come to mind” for the majority of online learners.’ – The MAIN reason for this is that libraries have not adapted to the online world and the way people search for information. Libraries with their OPAC or other databased catalogs are not accessible to search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask to name those that are used most by people who are also potential “customers” of libraries). Since no search engine can see “behind” the wall of the OPAC or other catalog databases, they cannot list the potential content among their search results (SERPs). For younger people but increasingly for the older generation (which gyrates predominantly towards Yahoo habitually), searching on the Internet means to find anything that’s there. Only a few are aware that a typical Internet search may not even have access to more than one third of all (online) available resources. Simply because these cannot be indexed and/or even accessed. Google has created Google Books for that reason, but they never considered asking a librarian on how to classify books – astonishing as it may seem, the Google Books cataloging information is as if a first-grader with no knowledge of cataloging had designed it. Libraries and the search engines need to get together and develop APIs that allow search engines to access the catalogs and, if possible, material that is accessible online in digitized form. Together with geo-tagging Google etc. could then show a local user that “his/her” local or university library has what he/she is looking for.

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