Last week, I had the pleasure of running a workshop on the idea of ‘information generations’, and their significance for library / information providers. The pleasure was magnified by being, not only in the lovely city of Prague, but in the (literally) palatial surroundings of the Bredovsky Palace, the home of Charles University’s Centre for Economic Research and Graduate Education Economic Institute (CERGE-EI). This was a part of the 2009 InForum annual conference.
A very lively and interactive group of 17 participants, from Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia and Poland, helped me work through the issues of dealing with Veterans, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and of course the Google Generation. Although these labels come largely from studies in the USA and UK, we agreed that they were a useful framework for the situation in Central Europe, though they could only be used as an approximation. Differences between urban and rural areas, and between rich and poor (economically as well as informationally), are important modifiers of the generations. And the generation of the librarian, or information manager, is as important as that of the user. We agreed that it would be inappropriate, and perhaps self-defeating, to try to offer segregated services for the different generations, but that services need to presented and marketed in ‘generation-specific’ ways.
I am hoping to write these ideas up as a journal article. In the meantime, more photographs of the event, and a report in the Czech language can be found in Ikaros, an electronic journal of information society (thanks to Linda Skolkova).