Monday, June 25, 2007

Needham talk

Inside Higher Ed has some coverage of OCLC VP's George Needham's advice to librarians for accommodating "digital natives". They include...

  • Avoid implying to students that there is a single, correct way of doing things.
  • Offer online services not just through e-mail, but through instant messaging and text messaging, which many students prefer.
  • Hold LAN parties, after hours, in libraries. (These are parties where many people bring their computers to play computer games, especially those involving teams, together.)
  • Schedule support services on a 24/7/365 basis, not the hours currently in use at many college libraries, which were “set in 1963.”
  • Remember that students are much less sensitive about privacy issues than earlier generations were and are much more likely to share passwords or access to databases.
  • Look for ways to involve digital natives in designing library services and even providing them. “Expertise is more important than credentials,” he said, even credentials such as library science degrees.
  • Play more video games.
Most of these suggestions strike me as obvious, unoriginal or pointless. We've been hearing about how 24/7 chat reference is important for almost a decade and at least at our library, nobody ever used it.

One point he makes which deserves emphasis is understanding that folks like to jump in and experiment with applications before reading manuals or help sheets. Then again, hasn't it always been the case that people (particularly men) never read the manual? I know it was true of me when I got our new BBQ grill a few weeks ago. If it weren't for my wife, I would have fired it up with pieces of plastic packaging still inside the grill.

The reporter notes that librarians in attendance were "taking furious notes."

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