January 24, 2009

ProQuest “Libraries and the Net Gen” – Introducing Summon

Joan Lippincott started out by speaking about net gens – “If we were creating academic libraries today, what would they look like?”

Oxford, San Jose State University?
would they only have print collections, special collections?

or would we create learning commons?
would they look like Google Book Search or iTunes University where the librarian mostly deals with licensing, totally online?

can we create libraries with content, tools, and services for today’s students?

looked up “what’s in my bag” pool on Flickr to see what today’s students carry (not books)

net gens – born between 1982-1991 who grew up with computers and other media at home and in school from earliest ages
Joan has two NetGen daughters, although their friends are better informants
also calls them millennials, digital natives, gen y, next gen, DotNets
when asked what comes next, she uses the term “screenagers” :-p
– the generation that will have had computers and mobile devices since birth

characteristics of NetGens (a population, not a generation)
using “Born Digital” definition, a highly educated subgroup has the following characteristics
– always connected, multi-tasking
– oriented to working in groups (doesn’t mean they love “groupwork,” but they like hanging out with their friends and socializing while working; you used to go to the library, do your work, & go back to the dorm to socialize. now they socialize at the library with friends who are there and who aren’t there)
– experiential learners (like the shift to hands-on learning from lecture)
– visual (oriented towards visual cues, although they do still read; when they’re doing a history paper, they may embed a map or create a video – they don’t just use text)
– producers as well as consumers (they create something of their own)

even if you have 50% adult learners at your campus, many of these characteristics still apply
(kids today call them “cameras,” not “digital cameras”)
anyone working in digital humanities is working in groups
adults are active learners – they want hands-on
think of any profession – they are all producing websites, word documents, or producing some form of digital information

so our tools need to be oriented towards these characteristics because they’ll need the skills using them going forward

characteristics of “deeper learning” (educause)
– social
– active
– contextual
– engaging
– student-owned

libraries are perfectly positioned to take advantage of this
it’s the projects they do outside of class that gives them the skills in class
– gives them context, they own their product, and engages them

it’s not just hype and it has relevance to learning
have to think about how we do this in our own institutions

are all students really tech-savvy?
students are connected
98.5% of respondents own a computer, 82.2% own a laptop (doesn’t mean they are new computers or that they bring them to class)
spend 19.6 hours a week doing work online (Joan thinks that’s low)
almost all are using social networks

harvard medical school survey of students in 2007 found 52% own a PDA
app with most use is reference!
have to think about the next generation of professionals and how we serve them

they love the internet and would give up TV & radio before internet (because they’re doing those things on the web)
college kids increasingly live in the online and offline worlds at the same time
has important implications for how we structure services

JISC study found that learners who are effective in online environment also create content, seek peer support using informal networks & social tools – an underground world of networking that is invisible to institutions

they may know how to build a website, but “we’re more interested in the art and flow of argument”
have to teach them how to use these tools in their disciplines, not their personal lives
we want students to connect better to library collections and services

Henry Jenkins’ “selected core skills”
– collective intelligence
– judgment – the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information resources
– networking – the ability to search for, synthesize information
– simulation – ability to interpret & *constuct& dynamic models of real world processes
– appropriation
– multtasking – a positive thing when can shift focus to salient details

MIT Photo Diary study

there will be an increasing emphasis on data for visualization (how do we represent this in our finding aids)
content optimized for mobile devices

Cornell has put images from their digital collections on their computers as screensavers so that when students ask where the images came from, the librarians can tell them

Seattle PL visualization of books being checked out

need to think about embedded content and transforming text data into more visual formats

– adopt and adapt
– assess
– hiring new types of staff
– train existing staff
– let go of things you don’t need to do

these students are our future and it’s our role to recreate academic libraries


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  1. […] The Shifted Librarian has two write-ups of sessions at ALA that discuss Summon in more detail.  This one is more background on users and why we need a unified search interface.  This one talks about the […]

    Pingback by Drexel Emerging Technologies — January 26, 2009 @ 3:30 pm

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