In this issue, we explore how libraries and publishers are seeking to understand and serve upcoming generations — in particular Millennials, the generation born from about 1979 to 1994. This generation includes Net natives — people who’ve always known the digital world and embrace its latest offerings. Information providers seeking to ensure we meet this generation’s research needs are seen as facing a complex challenge. But is it really so complex?
Is there, as Tom Noonan asks in his “Ask UCD” column, a lot of similarity between age groups and will trying to design products or services to support activities popular among younger users distract us from the real needs of our users? Or do libraries and publishers, as Kathryn Greenhill and Richard Sweeney say in their articles, need to match our services to meet Millennials' needs?
To serve younger users better, some libraries are renovating their physical spaces and other libraries are downsizing theirs. Many information providers are offering physical and virtual spaces facilitating dialog or group communication. We’re facilitating user-created content. Indeed it appears that Millennials are influencing changes large and small in how information services are packaged and delivered.
In the range of articles in this issue, there is much talk of “reinvention” but no single formula for serving the next generation. What does emerge is the theme of facilitating research and communication, which has always been at the core of what information providers do. Perhaps what we’re seeing isn’t so much a reinvention, but the utilization of a broader palate of tools to meet information needs.
As you read this issue, you’ll encounter different opinions on the characteristics of Millennials and how best to meet their information needs. And so perhaps: The times, they are a-changing, but then, don’t they always?
Jay Katzen, Managing Director Academic & Government Products,
Elsevier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands