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Preparing Libraries For the Digital Future

Peter Velikonja

Peter Velikonja

Peter Velikonja, Head, Research, Koios, LLC, presented a fascinating discussion of what communities want using Google Search data. Koios loves libraries; how do we raise awareness of them? Libraries are the epicenters of information. How do we make the connection between what the library has and what the public wants. The Toronto Public Library displays feeds of what users are searching, which is an indication of what the public wants. Here is a sample:

Toronto searches

We make sense of random words falling from the sky by putting out “buckets” to collect words and sorting them according to our interests, then categorizing them according to importance.

You can also find what people are typing into Google by looking at Ad Words, which will show you the average monthly volume of searches–indicators of interest. An advertiser uses these ideas to form a grouped set of keywords called a campaign. Ad Words can also tell you the volume in targeted metropolitan areas and compare it to the population of the areas, which leads to the community insights. Ranking the campaigns gives the top subjects searched. Libraries can use this to tailor their services. For example, in the “My 311” category, the top term is “hospital near me”, and in genealogy, it is “obituaries”.

311 top terms

Comparing libraries to the US standard shows interests in communities across the country. They are quite similar. Then you can look at hot keywords by town. They are indicators of focused local interest. Unique keywords show you unusual interests of individual communities that libraries can investigate. (See for examples.)This type of information is wide and flat. Normal strategic plans don’t include the population and are aligned with existing library users. This is one way of getting out of the library and getting data on the community. You can compare your community with Google searches. Some things are at the top in the library that are not at the top in Google.

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