I traveled to Reno last week to participate in the bi-annual conference of the American Association of School Librarians. The conference theme was “The Future Begins at Your Library.” In support of that theme, I offered a presentation titled “Library 2.0: Speaking the Language of the Millennials.” This presentation addresses the need for libraries to understand the attributes and expectations of their “Millennial” (individuals born since 1981) users, and to transform their traditional services in order to better meet those needs.
In my remarks I cite a decade of brain research which concludes that the physical structures of the brains of “digital natives” have been altered by the kinds of stimulation they received during the period of most active brain development. I also discuss survey research which suggests that members of this group tend to believe that they can fully meet their information needs using Google. However, an information literacy assessment of all incoming PA students last year pointed out serious deficiencies in the abilities of these students to identify, find, and use information creatively, competently, and ethically. The presentation thus frames the dilemma for libraries as a “language barrier.” Our student users have confidence in their technology competence, while the data show conclusively that they do not possess the information literacy needed to support lifelong learning in the 21st century. The balance of the presentation describes ways in which the OWHL has adopted “Library 2.0” tools and approaches to overcome this language barrier. The essence of the presentation, and of the approach of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library, is that Library 2.0 requires continuous evaluation and user-centered change. In the spirit of Web 2.0, the presentation is available on SlideShare.