Connecticut State Library
Study of iCONN Usage
Study of iCONN Usage
One hundred percent (100%) of people who use iCONN are satisfied with the information found there, but most Connecticut residents don't know about the service. This was just one of the many findings from a November 2005 public opinion poll conducted by the University of Connecticut's Center for Survey and Research Analysis (CSRA).

"This study shows that iCONN is headed down the right road. The challenge now is to significantly increase awareness of iCONN throughout the state and to continue to strengthen its offerings so that Connecticut reaps the maximum benefit from its investment in the service," said William Sullivan, iCONN Administrator.

The Connecticut State Library commissioned the survey to establish a baseline for Connecticut residents' awareness of the Connecticut Digital Library. In addition to measuring iCONN awareness, staff from iCONN and CSRA composed questions that covered a range of related topics, such as the public's perception of librarians and online information.

Usage statistics show that over 30 million searches have been conducted on iCONN databases since the service went live in 2001, and there is ample evidence that the service has become a core resource for the state's public, school, and academic librarians. Before the survey, however, there was no way to measure how much of Connecticut's general population knew about or used the service. This also made it impossible to gauge the effectiveness of publicity efforts.

Study Results; Awareness and Usage of iCONN and reQuest

Awareness of iCONN: 14% of general public, 17% of library users, 10% of non-library users
Usage of iCONN: 5% among the general public, 7% among library users
Familiarity and usage rates of reQuest: 6% and 7%, respectively, among the general public

Overall ratings of iCONN and reQuest systems showed a high rate of satisfaction among users - 93% satisfaction for reQuest and 86% for iCONN. Ninety-six percent (96%) of iCONN users would recommend the service to others who need information. Another interesting finding was that most non-iCONN users who did not already have a library card were more motivated to get a library card after they had listened to a description of iCONN.

Are Librarians More Reliable than the Internet?

Connecticut residents trust librarians more than the Internet with 71% strongly agreeing that they provide accurate and reliable information and only 33% strongly agreeing that the Internet provides accurate and reliable information. iCONN is the type of service that Connecticut residents get behind with 94% strongly agreeing that they are "concerned about equal access to information" among all communities. The report noted that "even if [they] never use it themselves, many state residents will support iCONN for social or public policy reasons".

Top iCONN Resources

The most used iCONN resources are online newspapers and magazines. Survey-takers cited the top four uses of iCONN as:

Schoolwork/coursework for self
Personal research projects
Work/business
Schoolwork with child

The current usage patterns of iCONN and the interest levels among non-users suggest the need for further promotion of iCONN's niche databases to increase usage and to attract new users. Survey-takers also indicated the greatest interest in specific magazine titles such as Consumer Reports and categories such as health, travel, hobbies, and news magazines.

Room For Growth

High interest levels in the service's offerings among survey-takers who were previously unaware of iCONN demonstrated the service's potential for growth. When iCONN was described to survey-takers, 57% were at least "somewhat likely" to use iCONN in the future. The non-iCONN users said that they were most likely to use the following resources:

Newspapers (The Hartford Courant, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal)
Health and wellness resource center
History resource center
Business and company resource center

Free, Fast, and 24x7

The survey also measured the public's reaction to messages about online information resources. The most important motivating factor the study found for non-users to begin using iCONN (at 71%) was its 24x7 availability. Non-users found that "access is free" to be very attractive (at 66%). Among survey-takers who go online for research purposes, the speed of online research is the number one motivating factor (61%) followed by the convenience of using online information (43%).

Next Steps

iCONN will use the survey's results to inform its public awareness campaign strategy. For example, iCONN staff members have already begun revising publicity materials to reflect the messages of greatest interest to the general public. More analysis of the survey's results, in conjunction with the recently released results of OCLC's international survey on public perceptions of libraries, will help iCONN staff to more effectively publicize the service to the state's residents.

Complete results of the survey can be viewed online at Marketing Survey