Newsless, Uninterested, and Information-illiterate? Information Behaviour of Generation Y
Heike vom Orde, International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television (IZI), Germany
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“Generation Y” (also known as “Millennials”) is the demographic cohort born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s. The members of this age group especially fascinate researchers and organizations because of their advanced technology skills. But some information professionals still tend to see them as an information-illiterate generation that is not capable of sophisticated and critical use of information. Yet there is an ongoing discussion how Generation Y may reshape and redefine libraries.
Meanwhile, an exhaustive body of international research exists and central results might give information professionals a clue what the characteristics of Generation Y’s information cultures really are. The general picture shows a largely pragmatic generation with few illusions that the web has all the answers. Digital technologies, especially the social media, used by mobile devices are obviously an integral and important part of their lives, not only for communication purposes but also for research and education. Significantly, the vast majority of Millennials surveyed in representative cross-national studies see themselves as being “on the cutting edge” of technology.
Analyzing Generation Y’s information cultures (e.g. news consumption habits) information professionals can learn from research that this age group is using news and audiovisual media in strikingly different ways than previous generations. They connect to the world by mixing information with social connection, problem solving, social action, and entertainment. Information professionals should be aware that the significance of libraries for Generation Y will depend on the ability of information professionals to recognize and adjust their services to the information behaviour of this target group.
Author's professional CV
Heike vom Orde (M.A. psychology and German literature, degree in academic librarianship) is head of documentation at the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television (IZI), an international documentation and research centre on children's, youth and educational TV in Munich, Germany. She writes articles and gives presentations on topics of media and information literacy (MIL) and youth media research. She is standing committee member of IFLA sections Information Literacy and Social Science Libraries. She is advisory board member of the UNESCO ALADIN network (Adult Learning Documentation and Information Network) and has delivered several presentations at international media, library and information science conferences.