Archive for May, 2012

Generation Y and Embedded Librarianship

May 20, 2012

At a conference recently, the fellow sitting next to me referred me to an interesting slide show created by some younger employees of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). (You can see it at http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/214672main_KPainting-GenY_rev11.pdf .)

The authors present characteristics of Generation Y (in U.S. demographics, defined as members of our society born between 1977 and 2000), and make a case that NASA must change its operations and communications in order to connect with this generation as employees and as citizens.

To be clear, the authors have nothing to do with embedded librarianship. But their depiction of Gen Y is so clear and vivid, that as I read it, I couldn’t help thinking that embedded librarianship is well aligned with the nature of Generation Y and the ways our society is changing.

The authors say that Generation Y expects “instant information”, “likes mentors”, is “interdependent”, and is “impatient … but highly adaptable”. They note that Gen Y doesn’t feel a clear boundary between work and life.

They say that the “traditional concept of top-down, one-way communications strategy is dead.”

It seems to me that embedded librarians, with their emphasis on collaboration and relationships, fit this model pretty well. Rather than receiving a question and returning an answer, the embedded librarian shares knowledge, and realizes that the sharing is mutual. Rather than counting transactions, the embedded librarian builds relationships. The embedded librarian doesn’t focus on a traditional, carefully delineated job description, but contributes to the team in whatever ways are needed.

Maybe this is why so many of my students seem to get the idea of embedded librarianship so readily.


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