Multigenerational libraries

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the multigenerational workplace as it applies to libaries. Partially because my supervisor and I are looking into the possibility of proposing some sort of session on the topic for next year’s Maryland Library Association conference, and partially because, well, it comes up nearly every day at work in one way or another. On our staff of 34, only three of us (that I know of) are 30 and under. From what I can tell, there aren’t that many people who hit the age range between us and our parents’ generation (and several people here have kids who are in their mid/late 20s), so there’s not as much of a buffer.

With some people the 20/30+ year age difference is not an issue; with other people there have been some weird interactions, and sometimes I can’t help but wonder if some of these things wouldn’t have happened if I were older. It’s not as prevalent as it was my first few weeks, but things still come up. For example, at a couple of recent meetings I was introduced as “our Millennial.” I understand that the term is being used to indicate a young, tech-savvy person, but from most of what I’ve read, Millennials are the people right behind me — today’s middle-schoolers up through college students (ish). Lumping me in with them — even if it’s just a shorthand to describe me — doesn’t really help me break down some of these age-related issues. Those of us born in, say, roughly 1978 – 1984, don’t neatly fit into the Gen X or Millenial categories, and there really wasn’t anything (I think) that Gen Y could coalesce around. I think sometimes in getting so caught up in “the generation gap” we forget that people don’t neatly fit into these boxes. I have plenty of friends also born in 1980, and you couldn’t use “Millennial” as a descriptor for all of them, because not all of them are (or even want to be) that tech-savvy. So to me, that means there must be a better shorthand to indicate “young, tech-savvy person.” Like maybe just saying “she’s quite tech-savvy” and letting the fact that I look young speak for itself. Hehe. Continue reading