Millennials & Libraries
Last week, I attended the annual meeting of the South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative, where I was treated to this impressive & rich presentation on the Millennial Generation by Richard T. Sweeney. The presentation (dig in there -- I plan to feast on the cited articles for weeks & months to come) was followed by a panel discussion with eight Millennials from local colleges. When asked how frequently they used their local public libraries, most reported that they didn't read books for leisure that much (but they do read lots of magazines!) and don't use their libraries that often (there were two notable exceptions -- both young women who said they used their public libraries because they loved to read but couldn't afford to buy books or magazines). When asked what would draw them into their public libraries, they all said the following:
- Wireless internet access
- Remote/electronic access to all library materials
- A more comfortable environment -- couches, coffee, and food all ranked highly
- "More staff who are helpful and who show you where stuff is" -- a direct quote
- Better marketing -- tell the public about what you've got going on!
- More choices in materials
- A movie screening room (this recommendation from an aspiring filmmaker, who was also the only panellist to indicate an interest in becoming a librarian)
What establishments (public or otherwise) in your community are already providing these resources & subtleties? Visit these places, watch their employees, learn from them, and use their ideas at your library. Better yet, conduct your own focus group with a group of local Millennials from your community. It doesn't have to be formal -- you can strike up a conversation with one or two at your local wifi hotspot, or at a major bookseller, or anywhere you see them having a nice time while they go about their business. These are friendly, nice, articulate people who, according to Sweeney's research (and by their own admission) assume that their opinions are valuable & interesting! Take advantage of this fact & use the information they give you to make your library & its services better.