Author: Olga Einasto, PhD, University of Tartu Library, Estonia
Young people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s are called the Zoomer generation or the Zoomers. They are also known as Digital Natives, the 5G- and @generation, referring to their deep connection with the internet and digital devices.
Statistically, this generation forms already more than 32% of the world’s population. The oldest of them have reached the age of university students and they will soon form a new generation of university library users. Everyday communication with them shows us that the young library users of today differ from the older generations, e.g. the Boomers, in several important ways:¹
|LIBRARY USER TODAY||LIBRARY USER YESTERDAY|
|With high expectations||With average expectations|
|Extremely rushing||Not rushing, patient|
|With vague and uncertain wishes||With Concrete wishes|
|Trusts the internet||Trusts the librarian|
|Relations: network, partnership||Relations: subordination|
|Values: technology, skills||Values: books, knowledge|
|Looks for people holding the same views||Looks for experience and entertainment|
If you want to get closer to the new generation, you will want to bear in mind that:
- The new generation hates long texts and their attention span does not exceed 8 seconds.² We have to make more and more effort in creating the information content that would attract them immediately.
- When choosing communication channels, it would be useful to consider that Zoomers daily spend more than three hours watching different types of video content. When searching for information, they primarily look at results containing videos. They pay most attention to platforms focussing on video content, such as YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. Their favourite web site of critical importance is YouTube
- For 70% of Zoomers, YouTube creators are more influential than traditional celebrities.³
- Zoomers prefer to open their e-mails in their phone. Therefore, the library information on the internet and in e-mails needs to be optimised for the smartphone. For Zoomers, everything has to be aesthetic, but also funny and exciting, as they literally feed on emotions and are always in search of new experiences.
- A survey of young Estonian consumers shows that Zoomers perform 32% of their transactions with smartphones. However, before making a purchase, only 24% would ask for advice on live chat and 47% would communicate directly with a salesperson. Surprisingly, this digital generation still enjoys face-to-face communication. We should communicate with them, ask for their opinion and include them in decision-making. We cannot lecture them, because they value immediate and positive communication.
- It is good to see that this generation loves books. There is no need to discuss whether books would have a future. Reading books on paper is often a pleasant change from the electronic media, we should keep suggesting good books to read.
- Zoomers are gratifying library users as they love to read and share suggestions. They can spread our information in their communities and they love to write comments and reviews on social media. They are also not afraid of expressing their dissatisfaction and publicly give negative feedback.
The new generation has many wonderful and even unexpected characteristics. However, we must not forget that, although they mainly live in a digital world, they are human beings who need immediate contact and understanding. To reach a better mutual understanding, we should actively communicate with them to realise their needs and to understand what is important to them.
Olga Einasto, PhD
Head of User Services Department
University of Tartu Library, Estonia