People like to name things. And then try to figure out what the name means. This really applies to our generations – from the “Baby Boomers” (that’s where I fit in) to “Generation X,” then “Generation Y” (albeit changed by someone to the “Millennials”), to the newest generation, “Generation Z,” or “Founders”, neither of which seem that descriptive.
I propose we name generations based on how libraries are organized.
If you are a Baby Boomer, you will remember walking into the Catalogue room in the library and being confronted with hundreds of drawers, organised from AA to ZZ. So, this generation should aptly be called the “Catalogue’ generation.
Next came a confused period where you still needed to use the Catalogue, but libraries had a computer available to assist you if you could figure out how to get past the “DOS” screen. So, we are going to call this the “Bilateral” generation (a bit kinder than the “Confused” generation).
For those of us in the Catalogue generation, the next stage was both welcome but intimidating, as the Catalogue room was replaced with rows of computer screens, we started finding information through listservs online, and we used Fetch (an FTP protocol with a small dog running across the screen) to share documents. The newbies in this generation though had never known anything but the computer and finding information online in the library, so we are going to call this generation the “Computer Debutants.”
Libraries after the Computer Debutant generation very rapidly caught on to the needs of this generation, and expected all the past generations to play catch up. “Google” is now a term in the Webster Dictionary (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/google), resources are now more likely to be videos, webinars or webcasts (probably streamed live) than the written word, and when this generation needs to find a resource, it either goes to a generic source (like a Google search) or to a trusted source, like an association website. The jury is still out on what to call this generation, so let me know if you have any good ideas. Although we are tossing up the “Virtual Generation.”
Where is this name generation concept coming from? We are helping our associations create virtual libraries. Their members may be located in the association’s home base, but are more likely to be working from offices around the world. Their members expect to be able to access the resources they need from these trusted sources 24/7, as long as they have Wi-Fi access. They want excellent search functions, visual clues, and quick downloads. They want the source video (for example), but also any handouts, summaries and cheat sheets from the presentation, plus an online forum to discuss the presentation and preferably online access to chat with the presenter.
From standing in front of an overwhelming wall of pull-out drawers to virtual online libraries – I think we need to give the Catalogue generation a pat on the back for endeavouring, the Bilateral and Computer Debutants for persisting, and the Virtual Generation for demanding we get there!
Give me a call Calaloguers, an email Bilaterals or Debutants, and a text Virtuals if you want to chat more about the Virtual Libraries we are helping to create.