What excellent timing for this report to come out! Very interesting statistics, however I know that every librarian out there is reading this report and thinking, “But what about the kids that don’t have access to the knowledge or tools to do this?” That’s the participation gap, and I think libraries need to start thinking about somehow filling it. I’ll be the first to admit that it won’t be easy, but we’re probably these kids’ only hope.
Of course, this report should also have you asking yourself if these kids can mash your library’s content into that mix, and I don’t just mean what’s in your catalog or databases. No, I mean your online guides, local history projects, podcasts, events (both online and offline), blog posts, RSS feeds, and more. What kind of an online presence does your library even have available to them for this kind of thing? It’s an interesting idea, isn’t it?
I just can’t resist a few more excerpts from the article because it’s so illustrative of what I’ve been trying to say on this site.
Is your library offering IM reference yet? If not, you should be. And we should be using blogs, RSS, and aggregators to teach better searching (and information literacy in general).
This generation is completely shifted, and it’s what they expect. You have to start shifting your services so that they can take advantage of them when they need them and where they need them. Don’t just sit there waiting for them to walk up to the reference desk in your physical building.
Don’t you long for the day you could hear kids talk about online library services as being “so easy that it was unrealistic to expect people not to do it!”
This gets back to the whole 4Cs thing I’ve been talking about lately regarding social software and library websites: conversation, community, commons, and collaboration. These kids want interactivity, and they want to be able to contribute. And that includes contributing to their libraries, if we let them.
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