I encourage all of you to download the North America Consumer Trends 2016 Report for some light reading. While there is nothing included that explicitly shouts, "Libraries, I'm talking to you!" there are many interesting trends that will definitely shape the way consumers expect to interact with services and digital technology.
Some interesting thoughts to consider:
- How does the ability to order a Domino's pizza through emojis impact the way students search for information? Even Twitter Advanced Searching allows for affinity searching by selecting a frowning face or a smiley face. There's never going to be a "scholarly article emoji" in EBSCO.... The millennial generation is frequently referred to as "digital natives" - but there's a difference between a technological comfort level and information seeking sufficiency. Just because a 20 year old does not experience anxiety when using a new device for the first time does not mean the know the most effective way to use it.
- Brand awareness and crisis communication could be a rising risk factor for libraries. Many more millennials report protesting brands or businesses when they disagree on an issue with the company than any other generation. What happens when weeding the collection becomes an issue, like we all know it can be (just Google "library weeding" and "anger" for examples)? Is there a critical mass with millennials and issues of dissent? There has to be a clear (hopefully emoji-less) communication plan and the utmost transparency to keep this generation at ease.
- Up and coming technology trends are nothing new, nor are they specific to 2016. However, this report details a few specific consumer tech trends that are imminent and likely to attract a lot of attention! Is your library ready to adopt them? Should you adopt them? I think it's clear that there are some spaces in which libraries do not belong - be it for cost, efficacy, or purpose . Deciding which trends to capitalize on, and which to leave to other industries will be a crucial strategic decision for each library to make. Let's look at two potential uses for a virtual reality headset. Using a single virtual reality headset to show members what a completed library renovation will look like (or perhaps how the library looked 50 years ago) could be a fun PR move that will get people excited about being in the library space. However, creating a complete alternative reality inside the library walls for the sake of entertainment is unlikely to serve much of a purpose, is likely costly, and impractical at this time. Scope and scale are important when adopting new tech trends.