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David Lee King

CIL2010 – Gen X Librarians: Leading from the Middle



Notes from a talk I attended …

Speakers: Lisa Carlucci Thomas (Digital Services Librarian), Southern Connecticut State University, Karen Sobel (Web Librarian), and Nina McHale (Reference & Instruction Librarian) – both at the University of Colorado at Denver

Gen X and Tech – Nina

Ha – quote – “I have shoes older than you.”

Generalizations work sometimes, sometimes not so much. ie – there are 20-something digital novices and 80-year old tech gurus.

Defines Gen X at early-mid 1960s to early 1980s. That’s me – born in 1966.

Growing up (along) with technology:

gen x librarians developed technology skills as needed – computers entered our lives during our educations

1970 – mean income, $10,001 – “Kitchen Computer,” $10,600

1984-1993 – computer access doubled for Gen Xers.

Gen X – between two worlds:

typewriters and word processors
card catalogs and opals
print and electronic
DOS and Windows
Analog and Digital
Traditional and Social
VHS and DDR
Landline and Cell Phone

Parallels in personal lives:
there has always been a generation in the middle – but tech adds a new dimension.

Attitudes toward tech:

we’re proficient with it
accepting of change and desire to improve systems
more likely to bank, shop, and look for health info online – connecting traditional institutions and new modes of communication

Gen X at Work – Karen

Sandwich Generation at work

Good mix of generations, income brackets, and levels of information at the university

She works on bridging the gap in the classroom.

different generations want to know different things.

make sure to personalize the instruction

Gen X skills in the library:

Gen X is bridging the gap – we started out analog, ended up digital. So we can help older people that are just starting out learning the “new stuff” – cause we’ve been there too

“I like technology, but I’m not an addict” – we have a better balance than older and younger generations

What does it mean to say “I’m not a computer person?” – But … they still have a phone…

Many Gen X librarians lean in tech-related taskforces, digitization projects, training programs

Gen X and Leadership – Lisa

Never before – 4 generations int he workplace

Gen X – rising into management positions (that’s me too)

Gen X is the smallest entry wave of managers in leadership roles right now…

Difference – Gen X is loyal to the profession – not to the institution.

Require personal/professional life balance

self-driven and self-motivated

promote innovation, mediate change, mentor people towards that change

Mentioned BIGWIG as a good example of gen x librarians working towards change

Sweet – mentioned mine and Michael Porter’s Library 101 project as something trying to give back to the profession – thanks!

Interesting – are we the self-centered skeptical slackers the media once portrayed us as? Not so much. Instead, we are independent, innovative individuals – who are becoming proficient leaders in our fields.

#genx hashtag…

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  • http://libraryrevolution.com Emily

    Sometimes I wonder if the media portrayal of GenX (from self-centered slackers to independent, innovative individuals) might be in part due to GenXers moving up in that industry as well… Our parents aren't writing the articles any more, we are. :)