A new report, commissioned by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and the British Library, counters the common assumption that the ‘Google Generation’ – young people born or brought up in the Internet age – is the most adept at using the web. The report by the CIBER research team at University College London claims that, although young people demonstrate an ease and familiarity with computers, they rely on the most basic search tools and do not possess the critical and analytical skills to asses the information that they find on the web.
The report ‘Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future’ also shows that research-behaviour traits that are commonly associated with younger users – impatience in search and navigation, and zero tolerance for any delay in satisfying their information needs – are now the norm for all age-groups, from younger pupils and undergraduates through to professors.
The study calls for libraries to respond urgently to the changing needs of researchers and other users and to understand the new means of searching and navigating information. Learning what researchers want and need is crucial if libraries are not to become obsolete, the report warns.