Library DVD borrowing has fallen sharply during the past year, and library users are rapidly migrating toward streaming services for both music and movies, according to the July 2012 edition of LJ‘s Patron Profiles, which examines trends in Media Consumption and Library Use.
DVDs are the top format for films loaned by libraries, and 27 percent of respondents said that libraries remain their primary source for movies—down from 36 percent in the first Patron Profiles survey, conducted less than a year ago. “A strong indicator of the changing media landscape is the rise of streaming and disc-by-mail services—both currently dominated by Netflix,” the report states.
In the first Patron Profiles survey, only three percent of respondents described streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Apple, and Amazon as their primary source for movies. That figure rose to 17 percent in this most recent survey, while the popularity of delivery-by-mail services fell from 27 percent to just over 13 percent.
Netflix’ September 2011 decision to split its streaming and DVD delivery services into separate subscription models may have been one factor driving this shift. The public’s rapid embrace of tablet computers and other mobile devices capable of viewing streamed content is another, “making it a medium that libraries would do well to explore despite challenges,” the report reads.
Maintaining a DVD collection during the transition to other media formats will pose a separate challenge to libraries. Their decline in popularity may be hastened by bad experiences with damaged or unreadable discs. Nearly 45 percent of patrons said that they sometimes have had trouble playing library DVDs.
“Notwithstanding the long-term fate of DVDs, they are still very popular and libraries will need to manage the physical discs for some time to come,” the report notes.
Similarly, Internet radio or streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify ranked second only to traditional radio as patrons’ primary source of music. About 32 percent of patrons described it as their primary source of music in this most recent survey, up from 20 percent a year ago.
“Although the physical CD is in decline, it is likely to continue its relatively small but positive role in the library experience. In the meantime, libraries should view the rise of streaming audio and legal downloading as an opportunity,” the report notes. Like DVDs, many CD borrowers had trouble with unreadable discs. More than a third of users reported problems with playback.
The popularity of music downloads continued to grow as well, with more than 30 percent of respondents describing downloads from services such as Apple iTunes as their primary source of music. And over 60 percent of respondents expressed interest in their library offering music downloads.
This latest Patron Profiles report contains additional information about format preferences, including audiobooks and digital games, and also examines the most popular movie and music genres, information about how often patrons tend to place holds on different formats, and their habits when content is not immediately available. Separately, the report includes a spotlight on library media consumption by the 61 to 80 age group, and delves into the habits of “Power Media Patrons,” closely examining the tendencies of patrons who demonstrate above-average use of library media services. Powered by Real Time Reporting from Bowker PubTrack Consumer, the survey included responses from 2020 individuals, all U.S. residents aged 18 and over.