As a Baby Boomer, I have always been a bit smug about my generation’s effect on American society. Because of our sheer numbers, we have influenced opinions and procedures regarding public education, child-rearing, music, home ownership, and yes, even menopause. I’m confident my generation will continue to demand change as we move into retirement and old age.

My conceit at being part of this highly-influential demographic was humbled recently, however. I read a report stating when the 2010 census is complete, the Baby Boom generation will officially lose its number-one status. Due to rising immigration as much as to rising birth rates, the Millennial generation is now the largest demographic group in America.

“Millennials” are those born between the years 1982 and 2000. The teens we serve every day in our libraries are members of this newly-crowned “largest generation in American history.” And just as the Baby Boomers required new services and new policies and new attitudes, so also we need to expand our vision to accommodate this exciting new population.

A few weeks ago I posted an entry here on this blog concerning services for older teens and twenty-somethings. The post generated several comments, both pro and con. Many question whether we can or should expand our focus to include the entire Millennial generation. But I ask, how can we not? How can we ignore the specific needs of this huge group?

Teen librarians can’t do this alone, however. Most of us are already balancing several job descriptions wrapped up into one position. So we need to seek ways to collaborate. Can we enlist the help of the adult department in our public libraries? Can we partner with a community college? Can we create a TAB or TAG for graduates?

YALSA also cannot be expected to lead this initiative alone. Collaboration among different ALA divisions such as AASL, ARCL, and PLA will be vital as we seek to provide specific services for our teen graduates.

A good place to begin this collaborative conversation will be at Annual in a few weeks. I encourage all of us to attend presentations offered by other divisions and sections that will help us garner ideas for expanded focus and collaboration as we serve ALL of the Millennials. An example is the Saturday afternoon offering, “Helping Students Transition to College” hosted by the LIRT Transitions to College Committee, affiliated with ACRL. Attendees will discuss strategies and challenges in helping students succeed in their first year of college.

I welcome more ideas and suggestions on how we can begin this process. Do you have other Annual presentations to recommend? Have you already found partners to help you expand services to older teens and twenty-somethings? Tell us about it!

Oh, and by the way, I’m alright with giving up my status as a member of the largest generation. It’s been a good ride. Now I’m excited to see what changes the Millennials will engender, and I want to be part of making those changes happen. Hurray for progress!

About Penny Johnson

I am the teen specialist at Baraboo Public Library, Baraboo WI.

One Thought on “Serving the “new” largest generation in history!

  1. I’m in a somewhat unique position, as I’m technically a millennial myself. I have a lot in common with many of my students in terms of the way we seek and share information, but their high school experience is hugely different from mine.

    I also think it’s important to remember that those of us who work in schools are already going to be serving older teens–whether they’ve taken longer to graduate than their peers, came from a school system (or lack thereof) internationally that might not line up with ours, or are simply a bit older than their classmates. They’re still a part of our community, and while they share many of the same needs and interests as their peers, they also have their own unique needs and challenges.

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