Libraries and the Google Generation

Librarianship | February 28, 2019

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The Google Generation, a popular term to describe people born after the early 1990’s, is quickly emerging. Find out how libraries can help prepare to serve this rising generation.

The Google Generation is on trend to be the most educated generation of all time, with college enrollment surpassing that of millennials. Your college or university library will be a place they most certainly will utilize. Understanding who they are and how their lives have been shaped provides key insight into what motivates them, how they utilize technology and the gaps your library can help fill for this new set of patrons.

Reality Bites

As children of Generation X, the Google Generation’s views and perceptions have been shaped by their parents. Gen Xers experienced a booming job market that sharply declined, drastic changes in the housing market, large political swings and other polarizing events. Their perception has been labeled by some as “cynical”, or, to put it a more appealing way — “a new sensibility” (1). This generation has been instilled with a pragmatic sense, and the notion that hard work equals success. They were raised during a time where political tension, violence and social instability increased, influencing their generation to be realistic and cautious.

The Google Generation has also grown up in the era of modern technology, with full access to the Internet, mobile devices and social media This access shaped their expectations with search and user experience. They’re looking for personalized experiences, experiences where information and content is readily available and easily digestible and a desire to be connected constantly. On the other hand, their proximity to advanced technology may have had a negative effect on their research behavior, as they are accustomed to instant gratification of search results meeting their keyword search, but those search results are not vetted and are not the most reliable for research.

On the other hand, their proximity to advanced technology may have had a negative effect on their research behavior. 

What does that mean for your library? Simply put, your library end-users want self-sufficient tools and platforms. They may also need to be trained on the fundamentals of research, while having access to robust discovery platforms that satisfy their user experience expectations, while simultaneously guiding them in their research.

So where can you start? The first step to bridging the gap with the Google Generation is understanding how well you know them. From their “hopping and bouncing” behavior to their evaluation criteria — there is a lot to learn about these users. Take our short quiz to test your knowledge.

Download the free white paper: The Google Generation is at your Library's Door

(1) Katz, Stephen. “Generation X: A Critical Sociological Perspective.” Generations, vol. 41, no. 3, Fall 2017, pp. 12–19.

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