GENERATIONAL USE OF LIBRARIES
April 19, 2015
HOW ARE LIBRARIES SERVING THE GENERATIONS?
• Younger patrons have a different view of their public library
• New university students have a different view of their university library
• Younger generations do not see the library as the primary place to
• They start their information research with the internet and often end
• Older generations are running the libraries
• Newer librarians are emerging but integration into the library work
force is uneven
THE GENERATIONS IN THREE POINTS
• Baby Boomers are competitive and idealistic, a generation
that has been able to focus on themselves.
• Generation Xers, by contrast, are skeptical and self-reliant.
They have seen their parents divorce and institutions fail.
• Millennials are technologically savvy, diverse, and have
been raised with a global media perspective.
McCaffrey, E., & Garnar, M. (2006). Long-range planning across generational lines: Eight tips to
bridge the differences. College & Research Libraries News, 67(3), 144-164.
Becker, C. (2012). Student Values and Research: Are millenials really changing the future of reference and research?.
Journal Of Library Administration, 52(6/7), 474-497. doi:10.1080/01930826.2012.707948
LATER GENERATIONS ARE MORE TECH
DEPENDENT AND MORE COLLABORATIVE
• Gen Xers more comfortable using
technology for learning.
• GenX sees computers as a part of life,
not a “technology”.
• Millenials more attuned to team work and
group learning compared to Boomers.
• Boomers used to working independently.
• Boomers use technology least of all.
Oblinger, D. (2003) Boomers, Gen Xers & Millenials: Understanding the new students.
LIBRARIAN STAFF CHALLENGES
• Boomer librarians find it difficult to connect with new,
younger Gen X librarians.
• Mentoring relationships are difficult due to gap.
• Boomers are still in charge but giving way to Millenials.
• Boomer differ on deploying information technologies
compared to Millenials or Gen X.
• Gen X sees the library as an interactive resource, and the
patrons are more like customers.
• Cohesive technology strategies difficult to formulate.
LIBRARIANS IN EACH GENERATION
Lancaster, L. C. (2003). The Click and Clash of Generations. Library Journal, 128(17), 36-39.
MILLENIALS SPAN THE GAP
• Millenials share traits of Boomers and Gen X
• More comfortable with online technologies, but still skeptical
of information found on the internet
• Like to read. Older Millenials read more for pleasure,
younger read for learning.
• Look positively on the library, but not fully familiar with all the
new services the library is offering
PEW ON MILLENIALS AND LIBRARY USE
• Part of the Pew Public Library
Internet Research Initiative
• Funded by the Bill & Melinda
• Full Report online at:
MILLENIALS ACTUALLY LIKE LIBRARIES
• Millennials’ lives are full of technology, but they are more
likely than their elders to say that important information is
not available on the internet.
• Millennials are quite similar to their elders when it comes to
the amount of book reading they do, but young adults are
more likely to have read a book in the past 12 months.
• As a group, Millennials are as likely as older adults to have
used a library in the past 12 months, and more likely to have
used a library website.
• As with the general population, most younger Americans
know where their local library is, but many say they are
unfamiliar with all the services it may offer.
PUBLIC LIBRARIES TRY TO SERVE ALL USERS
• Public library users come from all generations
• Online resources are taking over. Cheaper per item, easier to
• Patrons have alternatives like Google.
• Older users less tech savvy. Younger users less patient with
• Library needs to make technology simple, but still able to add more
value than Google can.
ACADEMIC LIBRARIES NEED TO “OUT GOOGLE”
• Students come to college with online research skills, unlike earlier
• But those online skills are poor (based on Google searching)
• Academic librarians need to convince skeptical students that the
library resources are worth the time and effort
• Academic library sites need to offer Google-like search experience
• Academic librarians need to teach students how to conduct
FUTURE OF THE LIBRARY
• Relevance is the key
• If users feel the library matters, they will use it
• If not, they will neglect the library
• Alternatives to the library (Google, Wikipedia, internet) are
here to stay
• Libraries will need to prove their worth or they won’t be