Libraries might ask – What is a “digital native” and where are they? video

Marc Prensky called digital natives – students who are are native speakers of technology, fluent in the digital language of computers, video games, and the Internet.  Librarians might not know who they are, or if they are even in their library. 

If you are not sure who these “digital natives” are, then watch this video called: are you relevant? 

Might this explain why we are having such a hard time attracting and growing the 20’s something age demographic into libraries?

 Some questions to ponder:

  • What is your library doing to engage, attract and support this underserved group of your comunity?
  • Are there any digital natives on your staff?
  • Who on your board speaks on behalf of these customers?
  • How have you marketed to them, and for what kind of content, events or services?

Oh, and if you need a hint about whether those digital natives are in your library? Check who is wearing watches.



Anyone willing to share your successes and failures?


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2 Responses to “Libraries might ask – What is a “digital native” and where are they? video”

  1. Kelley Says:

    As a 20-30something, digital native and a librarian (ie: lover of library services!) I find very little that would attract me to consider the library one of my 3rd places. I was recently at a very packed Starbucks surrounded by meetings of all kinds (students, professionals, friends, etc!) mostly in my age-group and wondered why all of these people aren’t using a more spacious, cheaper (most people buy something at Starbucks) place. And I think, because library buildings are still designed for the role libraries USED TO play in the community (few, if any, small meeting rooms, no cafe in the library) and we are still convinced it needs to be quiet. The upcoming generations, including mine, no longer require quiet for most of their work needs so let’s embrace the need for a space where we can be noisey! I’ve never been in a library where there were 15 different meetings/conversations going on at one time! How great would that be?

    Other than that, the libraries’ hours are not conducive to my work hours. I work 9-5 but what about picking up a book before work? Libraries just don’t open before 9-10 or even 1 PM! How about more lunch-hour book clubs? Or better weekend hours! If I work on a Saturday, the library is open after I start and closed before I’m done. And, of course, I want participation online/remotely. I want to be able to keep a list of favorites on the ‘My Account’ section of the catalog, I want to see tag clouds of who’s been searching for what – help me find the books I want to read like Amazon and GoodReads do! Create a blog for staff recommendations – link to articles within book OPAC pages. There are so many options to provide us busy 30-somethings, digital natives with, and they’re free and they WILL convince us that libraries are valuable and in turn, we’ll fight for them!

  2. Brad Fish Says:

    Kelley – thanks for your thoughtful reply. You raise some very important points.

    Why is it that Starbucks, Panera Bread or other small coffee shop type establishments and bookstores become the current gathering place for many social groups or small businesses and libraries don’t?

    Libraries have been slow to adopt the social networking tools that private industries have adopted over the last 2-3 years. Why can’t libraries move forward on these tools?

    The world: consumers and businesses have moved to a mostly functioning 24/7 world. I also fear that if the library community (schools and public libraries) can’t figure out a way to become more like 24/7 for their customers and students – that they will erode their credibility and usefullness. That would move us closer to becoming extinct.

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