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Minding the Gap presentation at ALA 2010 on intergenerational attitudes toward library reference service

Minding the Gap presentation at ALA 2010 on intergenerational attitudes toward library reference service

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  • Again, Millennials feel most strongly about ref. desk being staffed by librarians. Does not support the generalization that older workers prefer to do things as they’ve always been done.

Minding the gap_ala2010 Minding the gap_ala2010 Presentation Transcript

  • MINDING THE GAP Generational Differences in Attitudes toward Reference Service in Academic Libraries Eric Jennings Hans Kishel Jill Markgraf
  • MINDING THE GAP
    • Who we are:
    • Reference & Instruction Librarians
      • 1 Boomer
      • 1 Gen Y
      • 1 Gen X
    the forgotten middle child
  • MINDING THE GAP
    • In this session:
    • The changing library workforce
    • What we did
    • Assumptions and survey results
    • Areas for further exploration
    View slide
  • MINDING THE GAP The changing library workforce View slide
  • MINDING THE GAP Planning  for  2015:  The  Recent  History  and  Future  Supply  of  Librarians (2009 June). ALA Office for Research & Statistics , http://www.ala.org/ala/research/librarystaffstats/recruitment/Librarians_supply_demog_analys.pdf Age distribution of librarians
  • MINDING THE GAP
    • Number of retirements:
    • 1995-2005: 14,800
    • 2005-2015 (projected) : 28,200
    • Increase of 52%
    Planning  for  2015:  The  Recent  History  and  Future  Supply  of  Librarians (2009 June). ALA Office for Research & Statistics , http://www.ala.org/ala/research/librarystaffstats/recruitment/Librarians_supply_demog_analys.pdf
  • MINDING THE GAP Who are you?
  • MINDING THE GAP Generations defined Gen Z Gen Y (millennial) Gen X Boomer Silent Born… after 1988 1979-88 1965-78 1944-64 Before 1944 Age ≤ 21 22-31 32-45 46-66 66+
  • MINDING THE GAP
    • Random sample of 200 U.S. college/university libraries from Carnegie classifications
    • Email sent to every library staff member we could identify at those institutions.
    • 30 question online survey
    • Sent out 7000 emails, almost 1000 responded, for a response rate of 14%
    What we did:
  • MINDING THE GAP Our sample: Gen Z Gen Y (millennial) Gen X Boomer Silent Born… after 1988 1979-88 1965-78 1944-64 Before 1944 Responding 10 137 289 541 20
  • MINDING THE GAP
  • MINDING THE GAP
  • MINDING THE GAP Survey respondents by gender
  • MINDING THE GAP
  • MINDING THE GAP Assumptions about generations in the workforce
  • “ ” MINDING THE GAP Younger librarians are more willing to change and adapt; older, more established professionals often want to maintain the status quo. Quoted in Gordon, Rachel Singer. The Nextgen Librarian’s Survival Guide, 2006, p. 71
  • MINDING THE GAP The reference desk is obsolete and should be dismantled altogether
  • MINDING THE GAP Reference desk should be dismantled
  • MINDING THE GAP The reference desk is an essential service point that works well and should remain largely unchanged.
  • MINDING THE GAP Reference desk should remain unchanged
  • MINDING THE GAP The reference desk should be merged with other service points in the library, such as the Circulation Desk and offer tiered levels of service.
  • MINDING THE GAP Reference desk should be merged with other service points
  • MINDING THE GAP The print reference collection is becoming obsolete and should be dismantled altogether.
  • MINDING THE GAP Print reference collection should be dismantled
  • MINDING THE GAP Academic libraries should begin circulating most or all print reference resources.
  • MINDING THE GAP Print reference collection should be circulated
  • MINDING THE GAP Assumptions about generations in the workforce
  • “ ” MINDING THE GAP I don't think age has anything to do with adopting (and adapting to) new technologies, particularly when it's information professionals we're talking about. Marydee Ojala, “Talk About My Generation,” Online. July/August 2005, p. 5
  • MINDING THE GAP The reference collection should be transformed into an online only collection.
  • MINDING THE GAP Reference collection should be online only
  • MINDING THE GAP Wikipedia is an appropriate resource to use in the provision of reference service.
  • MINDING THE GAP Wikipedia is an appropriate resource
  • MINDING THE GAP Virtual reference services (chat, IM, Skype, etc.) are effective.
  • MINDING THE GAP Virtual reference services are effective
  • MINDING THE GAP Assumptions about generations in the workforce
  • MINDING THE GAP Our assumption: Younger librarians are less entrenched in traditional librarian roles.
  • MINDING THE GAP Reference librarians should have some responsibilities in the following areas…
  • MINDING THE GAP Reference librarians should have responsibilities in…
  • MINDING THE GAP Assumptions about generations in the workforce
  • “ ” MINDING THE GAP Nearly two-thirds of executives at large companies were most concerned about losing Gen Y employees, while less than half of them had similar concerns about losing Gen Xers… Irvine, Martha. “ Recession intensifies GenX discontent at work,” USAToday, http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/employment/2009-11-16-generation-x-jobs_N.htm
  • “ ” MINDING THE GAP Only about 37% of Gen Xers said they planned to stay in their current jobs after the recession ends, compared with 44% of Gen Yers, 50% of baby boomers and 52% of senior citizen workers Irvine, Martha. “ Recession intensifies GenX discontent at work,” USAToday, http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/employment/2009-11-16-generation-x-jobs_N.htm
  • MINDING THE GAP Career plans, 3-5 years
  • MINDING THE GAP Assumptions about generations in the workforce
  • “ ” MINDING THE GAP Librarians who have been in their jobs for a while do not seem as open to new ideas and new people. Quoted in Gordon, Rachel Singer. The Nextgen Librarian’s Survival Guide, 2006, p 108
  • “ ” MINDING THE GAP I see younger folks with their ideas set in stone; they are very inflexible, and this is not a good thing. Quoted in Gordon, Rachel Singer. The Nextgen Librarian’s Survival Guide, 2006, p 109.
  • MINDING THE GAP Strength of Convictions
  • MINDING THE GAP Assumptions about generations in the workforce
  • “ ” MINDING THE GAP “ NextGen librarians tend to be more narrowly focused. They seem to be much more interested in machines than in public service Quoted in Gordon, Rachel Singer. The Nextgen Librarian’s Survival Guide , 2006, p 109
  • MINDING THE GAP What % of their time should individual reference librarians be staffing the reference desk ?
  • MINDING THE GAP % of time individual reference librarians should staff the reference desk
  • MINDING THE GAP What % of the reference desk’s open hours should be staffed by a librarian?
  • MINDING THE GAP % of the ref. desk’s hours that should be staffed by a librarian
  • MINDING THE GAP Characteristics of Academic Reference Librarians Ranked by Importance
  • MINDING THE GAP Characteristics of Academic Reference Librarians Ranked by Importance 1. Interpersonal comm. skills 2. Adaptability/flexibility 3. Knowledge of online sources 4. Teaching skills 5. Knowledge of print ref. 6. Curiosity 7. Technology skills 8. Knowledge of disciplines 9. Creativity 10. Empathy 11. New and emerging tech. 12. Outgoing personality 13. Written communication skills
  • MINDING THE GAP
  • MINDING THE GAP
    • Conclusions
    • Generational differences in attitudes not nearly as dramatic as assumed.
    • Gen Y very supportive of traditional library services and roles.
    • Resistance to change (in reference service) cannot be attributed to age.
    • Interpersonal and “soft” skills are valued over technical ones.
  • MINDING THE GAP
    • Do attitudinal differences lie elsewhere? (i.e. gender, position…)
    • Does culture of librarianship override generational differences?
    • Explore why people feel the way they do.
    • Longitudinal studies
    Further study:
  • “ MINDING THE GAP ” For all that’s been written, discussed, debated and dissected concerning the issues today’s organizations face regarding the great “generational divide,” … multigenerational workforces are more united than not. Manhertz, Huntley, Jr., “The Generational Divide: Crucial Consideration or Trivial Hype?” Achieveglobal report, http://www.achieveglobal.ca/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=%2BrjyvkB%2Bvgo%3D&tabid=78&mid=725 [2009]
  • Thank you for attending Eric Jennings Hans Kishel Jill Markgraf