What Students Want: Generation Y and the Changing Function of the Academic Library
Summary (4 min read)
- Libraries and the Academy, Vol. 5, No. 3 (2005), pp. 405–420, also known as portal.
- Copyright © 2005 by The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD 21218.
- What Students Want: Generation Y and the Changing Function of the Academic Library Susan Gardner and Susanna Eng abstract:.
- This article presents the results of a 2003 undergraduate library user survey as a case study of Generation Y. Survey data support four main traits attributed to Generation Y, which are discussed within the context of library use and satisfaction.
- Today’s undergraduates are pushing the academic library to rethink the ways inwhich it presents its most basic services.
- The survey found that 73 percent of the respondents were more likely to conduct research by using the Internet than by going to the library.
- In many academic libraries, gate counts are declining.
- This article reports the results of a 2003 library user survey conducted at an undergraduate library.
- Most of the undergraduate respondents were representative of Generation Y students, being less than or equal to 21 years of age and also having the ethnic diversity characteristic of that generation (42 percent of the enrolled students are of Asian, Black, Hispanic, or Native American origin).
- The focus of their survey was to determine in what ways the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Library at the University of Southern California (USC) has been successful in its quest to be an innovative, user-oriented library and computing center.
- Two of the eight questions were free response; the rest were multiple-choice.
- For more details about the execution of the survey, please see the authors’ article in American Libraries.10.
- For this article, since the authors are examining the results in the context of Generation Y, they are only focusing on the 64 percent who are undergraduates.
- The authors collected the completed surveys, coded them, and input the data into Excel spreadsheets.
- Today’s students are both high achievers and ambitious.
- 36 PM407 hard and excel, and they have been up to the challenge, also known as 5/19/05, 1.
- Of the 514 undergraduates who responded to question 8, asking for free response suggestions for improvement of services, 63 noted a lack of enough individual and group study space, while another 66 complained that the noise level is too high (probably because they are trying to study).
- Millennials received more attention as children than Generation X. The 1980s was the era of the “wanted child,” and the well being of children dominated national debate.
- ”16 According to Hothe authors and Strauss, today’s college students “expect to be protected.”17 Only eight students complained about the need for more security in Leavey Library in the free response suggestions for improvement question.
Rank Activity Percentage
- In their survey, Generation Y accounted for a large percentage of undergraduate survey respondents during nontraditional library hours; 31 percent of all the freshmen filled out their survey in the evening between 6 p.m. and 12 a.m.
- Of the few people filling out the survey at night between midnight and 6 a.m., 45.8 percent of them were freshmen (see table 3).
- This shows that in Leavey, freshmen use the library at all hours.
- This raises the issue of whether decision-makers in undergraduate libraries should be prepared to better meet the service needs of freshmen after hours since this is the group with the least amount of library experience and, therefore, a potentially high-need constituency.
- Today’s students came of age during the “mass customization movement,” which entailed being “absolute rulers of their own digital universe.”26 They now expect to control “when, where, how, and how fast they learn.
- ”27 Students “perceive their learning environments as boundless,” and most have laptops with the same functions as the computers in the library.
- In the Leavey survey, only 36.3 percent of the undergraduates use the library to check out a book, and 12 percent of them come to the library to use print journals and magazines as compared to the 61.3 percent who come to use a computer for class work (see table 1).
- This suggests that students prefer doing research online.
- These two reasons ranked second and fourth, respectively, out of the possible 15 activities (see table 1).
Undergraduates: Year versus Time of Day
- 36 PM411 dergraduates who answered that question indicated that they want more computers, while an additional 17 respondents asked specifically for more PCs (as opposed to Macs), also known as 5/19/05, 1.
- By far, the most asked for improvement was a request for more computers.
- As a result, students will convince themselves that they are fulfilling all of their research needs by using the Web.
- According to their survey, only 12.6 percent of the respondents said they came to the library to get research assistance (see table 1).
- Such a low number might be attributed to this ATM attitude of self-serve convenience.
- Communication modes of the millennial generation have changed dramatically from their predecessors.
- This focus on group learning can be seen in several places in the survey results.
- When asked why they visit Leavey Library, the third most popular response (55.2 percent) was to study with a group, while the seventh place response was to use a collaborative workroom—30.5percent (see table 1).
- Though students in this generation tend to identify with their parents’ values and feel close to their parents, their relationships with their teachers are slightly less harmonious.
- There was always a much higher percentage of undergraduates than graduates who reported staying in the library during the shortest durations (between zero and three hours).
Implications for Reference Services Beyond the Library
- Many students now perceive their learning as mobile and use the library remotely, so it is imperative that libraries have an infrastructure that facilitates remote usage of their resources.
- Libraries can provide the same level of quality service to remote sites through wireless networks using methods like password protection or IP address authentication.
- It is crucial that the infrastructure works properly, is consistently maintained, and that any problems are dealt with swiftly since Generation Y students have extremely high expectations when it comes to technology in higher education and will not tolerate disruptions of service.
- The best way to insure a smooth infrastructure is by maintaining solid partnerships with computing consultants who assist with the technology, software, and hardware maintenance.
- With so many students now doing library activities in remote locations, librarians need to go beyond traditional phone reference by using services such as 24/7 and.
Length of Visit Undergraduates Graduates
- These services, already popular in academic libraries, allow users to email their reference questions or chat in real time with a librarian when the information need arises, regardless of where they are physically located.
- This is not the most intuitive device for Generation Y students.
- They may prefer the simpler instant messenger (IM) services they have been using as long as they can remember.
- Another means of helping students when they are not physically in the library is to go where they are doing their work.
- The undergraduate libraries at Harvard University instituted a “Roving Librarian” project in spring 2003, bringing librarians to spaces on campus where they would not usually be found, such as the student union.
Implications for the Mass Customization Movement
- The biggest recent change in colleges and universities, aside from the adoption of active learning practices to cater to new student learning styles, has been assimilating the information technology revolution into research and learning.
- Another way to capitalize on technology is by supporting wired seating, which allows students to hook up their own laptops and still use the library research tools.
- This allows for more study space and appeals to students’ sense of customization.
- 57 Shill and Tonner predict that laptop loaners, as an alternative to conventional computer clusters, will be a popular new service.
- 58 It should be noted, however, that it is a precarious undertaking due to the risks involved with theft, wear and tear, and the high cost of replacement batteries.
Implications of the New ATM Attitude
- Students expect convenient, one-stop shopping when it comes to research, which can partially be addressed through the use of portals.
- 36 PM415 subscription reference material, e-journals and learning and teaching material . . . presented to the user through a single interface, also known as 5/19/05, 1.
- ”59 Portals will reduce information overload and function more like a search engine.
- Besides the fact that students want food and drink in the library for convenience sake, there is the argument that since the authors are making the library a more social, hands-on space, “the strong customary association between food and socially shaped activities” will maintain.61 Recent trends in library redesign mirror the new presence of cafes and snack bars, although a surprising follow-up study by Shill found that this had no association with an increase in usage.
- 62 Libraries worried about the preservation of their collections in the presence of food might try less drastic steps such as providing covered beverages or snack vending machines in designated locations only.
- The authors survey and accompanying research on Generation Y offer support for the four main expectations attributed to this new generation: 1. Demand for quality academic facilities and high academic achievement 2.
- The need for customization of technology and research 3.
- The need for integration of technology into learning 4.
- 267 students—the preliminary findings suggest support for previous research describing the new ways in which the current generation of students utilizes the library.
- ”63 Susan Gardner is collection development coordinator and reference/instruction librarian, Leavey Library, University Park Campus, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA; she may be contacted via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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