Fall 2014

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Presidentís Memo

Fall 2014 issue of Trustee

Libraries reflect the demographics of their community. The demographics reflected library philosophy regarding their collections and dictated their services to their patrons. For the last seventy years, libraries targeted clearly defined segments of society or defined generations. Traditional generations were:
  • Silent Generation: born 1928 to 1945—include ages 69 to 86; reflect some 12% of adult population with non-Hispanic white 79%.

  • Baby Boom Generation: born 1946 to 1964-include ages 50 to 68; reflect 72% of non-Hispanic white population

  • Generation X: born 1965 to 1980-include ages 34 to 49; reflect 27% of adult population with 61% non-Hispanic white

Millennial Generation or Generation Y: born after 1980 ages 18 to 33; reflect 27% of population.


There has been a dramatic change in the need for libraries to meet the informational needs of this Millennial Generation—the most educated ever. Technology is part of this generation and is what dramatically sets it apart from the other generations. Millennials are digital natives—they are the first generation to come of age with cable television, the internet and cell phones. The other existing generational members have had to adapt to the new technology—the Millennials were born into it. They are the most avid users of digital, technology and social media; they treat multi-tasking and hand-held gadgets almost like body parts.


The challenge is for public libraries to meet the informational needs of this unique generation. A recent survey resulted in the following statistics: 46% of American adults read only hard cover books, 48% read books in hard copy and in electronic format—by generation: Silent: 57%; Boomers: 52%; Generation X: 46%; and Millennials 34%.


Public libraries must adapt to the new demands quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively if we are to be key players in the Millennial’s lifestyle. Libraries must provide access to the latest technologies by reaching them through their chosen mode of communication (social media) and their preferred reading format (e-books, down loaded audio books, and electronic magazines).


The challenges for dealing with this new generation include increased bandwidth, access to library resources from mobile devices and increased access to a number of electronic resources. The future of the public library depends on how libraries respond to meeting the challenges presented by the Millennials. Sheer numbers indicate they are 77 million strong, 2 million more than the Baby Boomers. This group’s size and age range highlight its long-term social, economic and political power.


The bottom line:

The Millennials Are Coming!

The Millennials Are Here!!

… And as Public Libraries, we need to deal with it!

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