Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Kids are alright! Millennials & Their Information Behaviors

I went to hear Stephen Abram talk about Millennials and their information behaviors -- his presentations on various library 2.0 topics can be found here.

I was hoping to get information I could use when we redesign our teen and kid websites at work -- instead I left with a feeling of hopelessness. It was a wonderful presentation -- and there was a lot of useful information on the webpage viewing habits of those born between 1978 and 1995. And he showed a wonderful list of characteristics of Millennials that was collected by his colleague Richard Sweeney. It's just that half way through the presentation I realized it wasn't meant for me.

As I sat there between a Millennial (born 1978) and a Boomer (born 19something) I realized there was gap of ~45 million people missing from the presentation. Generation X.

This is how millennials are...
This is how we Boomers should look at this...
Our kids do xyz and we think wtf...
Millennials multitask, play games, download music, ...

I wanted to raise my hand, Um Sir? What about me? How do I as a Gen-Xer -- who has been in the profession since 1999 interact? Yes I need to know how millennials are -- And it's good for me to know how to tell my Boomer colleagues how they can relate -- but my daughter is 17 months she pulls the ball out of my trackball oh and watches the backyardigans on my lap-- and I multitask, play games, download music... (heck right now I'm blogging, listening to the Ramones on my Ipod, and chatting with a coworker via gtalk)but I'm not one of them -- as I can tell from my sunday school students and my little brother -- and they know it. I'm "old" to them -- I'm no longer on the front page of the blog post -- I'm in the archive. How do I relate to them?

The Millennial said she doesn't consider herself millennial - the Boomer told me I'm a green personality and a Gen-Xer so I'm cynical. I jotted down on my program "Gen-X -- where have they gone?"

In 2003 I did facilitate a discussion for OLA on Gen-X Librarians and how to manage them. It was a mild turn out -- but it felt good to have others there pointing out that the stereotypes weren't true and that it was more of a cooperative culture that mattered than highlighting differences. I wish there would have been a little more of that in this session.

The thing that bothered me the most though was how "tech savvy" this group was suppose to be as a whole...yes many kids are good with technology -- and I know some of the kids I've gamed with have some mad computer skills. But when I worked at the university I saw so many students that could set up a Myspace page but couldn't figure out how to create a word document. What about those kids? How do we connect and help them? I guess that's what I felt was missing. Do those kids learn differently than older people who have the same problems? How do we reach out to them?

Your thoughts?

7 comments:

Dynamic Librarian said...

Yes- those kids learn differently. We get to them by creating games that teach reseearch and library skills. We need to hook up with some gaming programmers to do this.

Dynamic Librarian said...

PS- where can I get the jpegs for the Read Yall posters that you have on your blog?

Adri said...

Thanks for the comment DL :)

I agree that gaming works in some ways (and have seen it work myself) -- but it does go back to various learning styles as well so we need to be sure to diversify our outreach to that group. After sleeping on it -- I guess I felt that the talk left me with more questions than answers.

As far as the Read Y'all jpegs -- :) email me at adri.ej@gmail.com and I'll hook y'all up.

Adjective Queen said...

I agree with you that a key section on GenXer's was left out. But I was happy to get the info on the Millenials, and I think our library staff could benefit from knowing some of this. It would help cut down on the ref desk glares when the kids come in to use the computers.

Adjective Queen said...

Oh, and btw, Go Go's rock!

Jay Shorten said...

Surely it's not news that nobody cares about us GenXers anyway?

Traci Guptill said...

Well Jay, your fellow genXers care about other genXers. Adri, I think you make a good point. How do we get our peers into the library? My friends outside of the library world buy the books they read. And they never think about socializing at a library sponsored program. It's a subject worth exploring.