Diversity in Libraries
A blog for exploring and discussing the topics of diversity and multiculturalism in libraries.

“Digital Natives” Diversifying Library Services

By: Jessica Morales

Digital Native? Idaho has created or rather brought attention to the term “digital native”. As defined by the Idaho Commissions for Libraries (ICFL) a digital native is: “The generation growing up with computers and the internet since infancy.”

The ICFL contracted a research group to determine the views that digital natives have of public libraries. The diversity amongst the participants was wide but the age group was restricted to people within 12 to 25 years old. Here are just a few highlights of their findings.

  • Digital natives deem learning a necessity in order to progress in life and they highly value education and learning.
  • Digital natives believe that it is important to learn other viewpoints from the internet and face to face
  • They are most likely to pay attention to information that is fun and interesting, both in content and presentation
  • Convenience is most important when digital natives seek information
  • Digital natives are in search of places to socialize and the generally view the library as a place for the old and young and serious work

Idaho has taken these finding and adapted their services to include coffee shops, teen spaces, and activities for patrons of all ages and venues for community activities. In doing so they found that “communities are coming together across cultural boundaries to meet in the library.”

Discussion topics:

What are ways that your local library has adapted to the needs of digital natives?

With technology changing so swiftly and the time it takes to implement new services do you think a library will be able to keep pace with its patrons demands or needs?


Biladeau, S. (2009). Technology and Diversity: Perceptions of Idaho’s “Digital Natives”. [Feature]. Teacher Librarian, 36(3), 20-21.


8 Responses to ““Digital Natives” Diversifying Library Services”

  1. Nice article and really interesting topic. I read some of the findings, specifically the section LIBRARY SERVICES FOR THE FUTURE [1]. Participants were asked to select seven services or programs they were most likely to use from a list of choices.

    • hello..it was really a nice topic and timely that i am doing a paper on meeting the challenges of digital native library users. can I request a copy of the fulltext article on this Technology and Diversity: Perceptions of Idaho’s “Digital Natives”. [Feature]. Teacher Librarian, 36(3), 20-21.? How can I contact the author? Thank you so much. I am from the Philippines and working as Librarian at the University of the Philippines Los Banos. I want to benchmark on what you did in your library in meeting the needs of the digital natives. I will appreciate much of your help. Thank you.

  2. Teens (12-17) [1]
    – Friday afternoon teen movies – Teens want the library to be more social. More of a place to go with friends. Seriously, how many teens go anywhere outside a group? They also wanted to be involved in the movie selection. They suggested the library should have separate loud and quiet areas.
    – Coffee shop – Both as a place to relax and a place to socialize. Make people comfortable and encourage them to stay longer.
    – Battle of the Bands events – Another way to socialize and meet people. When I was in high school we went to football games. Listening to live music (good or bad) sounds to me like a lot more fun than watching a football game! Teens want be involved in selecting the type of music.
    – Digital photography club – Have the library purchase image editing software like Photoshop and allow teens access to it.
    – Used media swap – My favorite suggestion. I never had a lot of money as a teen to buy music. What a wonderful way to trade up music you are tired of listening to for something new. Another great way to socialize and meet others who share similar tastes in music, movies, books and video games.
    – Video game checkout – Try a game out before buying it.
    – Video game club – Have a place to meet and compete together. Perhaps the library could have competitions.

    These are just a few of the top couple of selections. Teens want the library to be more social and they want to be part of the decisions made by selecting the movies, music and games.

  3. I was really interested in what the 18-25 age group selected. Just the other day I was discussing with a librarian I work with how I hardly even see anyone my age (twenties) at the public library we work at unless they are there with children. What does the library have to offer them?

    Adults (18-25) [1]
    – Meeting/study rooms – Can the library ever have enough of these? Perfect places to study and perfect places to meet with people.
    – Job and career information – They want information about the types of careers they are interested in and for the library to have career assessment tests.
    – Used media swap – Especially in this economy!
    – Coffee shop – Like the teens, this age group also wants a place to relax and socialize in comfort.
    – Foreign languages classes – Interesting choice. I personally have wanted to learn another language for a while now but never seem to have time for it. I would definitely be interested in learning from someone who speaks the language fluently (as opposed to trying to learn from a book). Participants thought it would be beneficial to learn a language like Spanish to be able to communicate with Hispanics in their community.
    – Book clubs – Socialize with others and for book suggestions.
    Participants find it difficult to locate a good book on their own.

    These are just a few of the top couple of selections. This age group wants the library to be a social place and satisfy their information needs.

  4. The Plymouth District Library provides some of these services/programs:
    – Friday afternoon teen movies – Not every Friday but occasionally our teen librarian will show movies.
    – Coffee shop – No.
    – Battle of the Bands events – Not that I’m aware of.
    – Used media swap – Unfortunately, no.
    – Video game checkout – Yes! We have lots of circulating games for many different game systems. They are very popular.
    – Video game club – About every other month for teens.
    – Meeting/study rooms – Not enough. We only have 8 of them and 1 for the teens.
    – Job and career information – We have a special collection of job and career planning materials.
    – Book clubs – We have them for both teens and adults.

    [1] Idaho Commission for Libraries. (2007). Perceptions of Idaho’s Digital Natives On Public Libraries: Statewide Focus Group Findings. Retrieved from http://libraries.idaho.gov/files/2007-digital-native-rpt.pdf

  5. Sorry about all the replies but the whole reply was too long for the blog.

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