Generation Z is the cohort that follows Millennials; the starting birth date for this generation is the mid-90s. Their presence and influence in your workplace is going to grow, and they have very specific expectations with regard to information access and knowledge exchange. Get ready for them now.
According to Wikipedia, “A significant aspect of this generation is the widespread usage of the Internet from a young age. Members of Generation Z are typically thought of as being comfortable with technology, and [interact] on social media websites for a significant portion of their socializing.”
Taking it further
They’re actually more than “comfortable” with technology. In fact, writes Patti Girardi, in her Brand Quarterly article “The New Millennials: Transitioning Generation Y to Generation Z,” members of this cohort are “often referred to as tech-native or tech-innate, versus tech-savvy …and [they] do not distinguish between social media and the Internet …Generation Z was born into the modern digital world. They report that they are online constantly, and as a generation, they do not distinguish between their devices.”
It is likely that for “Gen Zers,” personal and workplace preferences for consuming, sharing and evaluating information are the same. This has clear implications for how organizations enable access to both critical internal knowledge assets and subscribed third party content resources. Essentials include:
- Everything Internet—nothing to install, no barriers to usage
- Searching not required—deliver relevant, personalized and timely content/information automatically
- Browser and device agnostic—offer full portfolio of content via smartphone, tablet, “iEverything” or laptop
- Social sharing tools built in—enable users to “act on content” and rate, like, share, or comment
- Integration with third party search engines—your users may start with Google; you want them to land on your platform
- Always on—full functionality and content, 24/7/365
Get there first
In order to support this growing user population, special librarians and knowledge managers must deliver all of the above. This means that your ILS or KM solution must offer both the traditional and advanced functionality you need, and the basics that Generation Z employees simply assume you’ll provide. Special library sustainability depends on anticipating and fulfilling the requirements of your user base—get ready for Generation Z now.
Special librarians are evaluated on productivity; skills for special librarians involve productivity tools, focus, research skills and collaboration.
Skills for special librarians include deep thinking, focus on connecting data and information, application of technology to information retrieval.
Special librarians should embed learning at the core of their practice, and develop a lifelong personal learning agenda.
Writing is one of the most important skills for special librarians, and requires focus, attention, and hard work, free from distracting technology.