Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Millennials and the Library

Marshall Breeding - staffweb.library.vanderbuilt.edu/breeding

Who are you?
1925-1945 - silent generation
1946-1964 - baby boomer
1965-1980 - gen x
1981-2000 - millennial generation

Characteristics of the Millennial Generation

  • They have an innate ability for technology, frenetic multitasking, comfortable with diverse types of digital media, highly interactive style of working
  • They are not particular as to the source of information - paper, digital, text,media - always highly collaborative
  • They are creative, organized, independent, open to innovation, but impatient, skeptical, arrogant (Forrester Research, Inc. A Contrast of Generations- good study on different generational styles
  • Key questions - Millennials want pictures first, are more collaborative, more "learner" than "teacher" centered. They are very impatient, want instant access, at all times of the day and night
  • Millennial needs may be things that will make library use better for all of us - faster, more interactive, more collaborative, more "timeless" is good for everyone
  • Millennials will move on quickly to non-library sources if not satisfied - older generations will stick with us as we adapt - if we can't adapt, we are irrelevant
  • Key characteristic - Millennials work with content across diverse media - and like to remix info from various types of file sources - we need to work with this preference - mashups are the wave of the future.
  • Collection possibilities - ejournals, ebooks, podcasts, video libraries online, news archives, datasets
  • Millennial expectations are heightened by their experiences with sophisticated commercial websites - they are used to using well established conventions for exploring the web
  • Millennials are confidant of their information seeking experience, and are reluctant to ask for help and impatient with unsophisticated web sites
  • Problems with library websites - amateur look, too many interfaces, overly complex and not intuitive, millennials want to go to one place to find OPAC, database, and other resources

Conclusion - Millennials want to see an interesting, fast, intuitive library web site or they will move on. Most library sites are highly disintegrated, non-seamless environment - finding aids, opac, etc. are not adequate for millennials short on patience - they need simple and seamless - federated search may not actually work, because the technology is not there.

Final word - real time search of the Penn State Library web site for Time Magazine took about 15 steps and 2 minutes - only to find that the resource was on microfilm.

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