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23 Pages

Teaching Information Literacy to Generation Y

ByKate Manuel

In an often-cited 1996 article, Catherine Lee discussed the learning style preferences of Generation X (born 1961-1981) and their implications for academic librarians. Lee’s helpful article, though, appeared near the end of Generation X’s matriculation as traditional first-year students at colleges and universities, and by 2001, articles offered administrators advice on managing Gen Xers as professional librarians.1 Today’s eighteen-year-olds are members of Generation Y (born after 1981),2 and it behooves librarianship to acknowledge and accommodate Generation Y’s learning style preferences, as well as their worldviews, earlier rather than later. While some Gen X characteristics are shared by Gen Y, especially its older members, Gen Y already displays some unique characteristics that have been extensively profiled by marketers eager to sell to a Gen Y population that is one third larger than the Baby Boom generation (born 1946-1964), and over three times the size of Gen X.3 Savvy educators have also begun noting differences between Gen Yers’ worldviews and those of their Gen X or older professors. Beloit College’s annual Mindset List reminds instructors that for today’s first-year students, John Lennon has always been dead and a woman has always been on the Supreme Court.4