More on the future of libraries


Here’s another report to complement the one from Pew Internet that I blogged about earlier. According to this British Library study many of the assumptions made about the Google generation – defined as those born since 1993 – fail to stack up to the evidence. study was commissioned by the British Library and JISC to identify how the specialist researchers of the future, currently in their school or pre-school years, are likely to access and interact with digital resources in five to ten years’ time. This is to help library and information services to anticipate and react to any new or emerging behaviours in the most effective way and to inform and stimulate discussion about the future of libraries in the internet era

I found the following statement of interest with regards to the impact on libraries of a move towards the much talked about ‘information-on-demand” environment:

The implications of a shift from the library as a physical space to the library as virtual digital environment are immense and truly disruptive. Library users demand 24/7 access, instant gratification at a click, and are increasingly looking for `the answer’ rather than for a particular format: a research monograph or a journal article for instance. So they scan, flick and `power browse’ their way through digital content, developing new forms of online reading on the way that we do not yet fully understand (or, in many cases, even recognise).

However, it seems the industry has overestimated the Google generation’s net-savvy credentials. According to this report, “A careful look at the literature over the past 25 years finds no improvement (or deterioration) in young people’s information skills“. it also claims there is no hard evidence to prove the Google generation needs information immediately and that it has no tolerance for delay in getting such data.

There’s plenty more to challenge and inform – including the section on the Google Generation itself… it’s certainly challenged some of my assumptions – I’m off now to read further…

One thought on “More on the future of libraries

  1. Hi Derek,

    You may find the literature review by Thomas Reeves ( a useful follow-on. It was recently discussed in ITForum. Reeves concludes that there is not enough evidence that generational differences are significant enough to warrant changes to instructional design practices.

    Seems that, now that the results of firm research are coming in, Prensky’s concept of ‘digital natives’ is being found to be so much bunkus… I wonder if the damage is already done, and how much this data will influence conversations about Web 2.0 and education?

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