Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Pew study: Library patrons want personalized recommendations

A new Pew Internet study on Library Services in the Digital Age was released today, and it contains some findings we found particularly interesting. When asked whether they would use:

“Amazon”-style customized book/audio/video recommendation schemes that are based on patrons’ prior library behavior

29% of Americans 16 and older said they would be “very likely” to use such a service, with another 35% saying they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.

That’s 64% of patrons interested in a library service which suggested books, audiobooks and DVDs to them based on their own preferences.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s not just Amazon that learns what you like these days. Personal algorithmic recommendations drive dozens of major sites, from Netflix and Pandora to Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter. Patrons get this stuff.

As chance would have it, we know of only one service that integrates with library holdings and catalogs, allowing library patrons to receive personalized recommendations—our own BookPsychic. Yes, there are a few in-catalog services that offer recommendations book-by-book—including our own LibraryThing for Libraries “Similar Books”—but BookPsychic is the only library service that learns what you like and adapts accordingly.

What is BookPsychic? Launched in August, BookPsychic is an easy and fun personal recommender system for library patrons—like Netflix or Amazon, but all about what’s in and what’s popular at your library. As you rate books and DVDs, BookPsychic learns more and more about your tastes, and comes up with recommendation lists. And everything shown or recommended is available at your library. Simple “bookstore” genres, like “Recent fiction” and “History,” help you zero in on the books you want.

In the text of the full report (p.61) the researchers noted that some librarians were hesitant to endorse a recommendation service of this type due to concerns about privacy. For patrons, BookPsychic is a completely optional and opt-in system, with stringent privacy protections governing any ratings you make within BookPsychic or any recommendations made to you.

For more information on BookPsychic, see the announcement blog post, or come give it a try with the Portland Public Library. If you want to see what it can do in your library, we’d be happy to set you up with a simple no-commitment trial.

Abby and Kate will be at ALA Midwinter in Seattle this week, so stop by Booth 1108 and chat with them about BookPsychic, or any of the other LibraryThing for Libraries enhancements.


The Pew report is based on a survey of 2,252 Americans aged 16 and above taken between October 15 and November 10, 2012, with a mixture of cellphone and landline surveys. The margin of error is +/- 2.3%. For some more data related to this particular question within the survey, see page 61 of the full report.

Labels: BookPsychic, recommendations

2 Comments:

  1. maureen says:

    great post. thanks for sharing it. i signed up for future studies with pew for libraries.

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