I Found It on the Internet: Coming of Age Online (2nd ed.)

Mae Keary (Scott Keary Consultancy)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 9 August 2011




Keary, M. (2011), "I Found It on the Internet: Coming of Age Online (2nd ed.)", Online Information Review, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 688-689. https://doi.org/10.1108/14684521111162043



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Working with teenagers and encouraging them to use library services in the traditional way is a challenge that librarians and teachers find rather difficult. This book is an attempt to help them in their struggle and to understand how kids perceive the world as a result of growing up with digital technology.

Access to online information and communication tools is a fact of everyday life for most teenagers. Librarians and teachers are now waking up to the impact of this phenomenon and would like to situate libraries as active partners in this developing ecosystem. They have identified that it is better to work with teens as partners and collaborators in retooling and invigorating their vision of library services for the future. This book aims to galvanise some of these ideas.

Where do teens fit in to the library? Formal and informal information environments make no difference to them. The internet does it all – they can do instant messaging, read source material and take notes at the same time. The Web 2.0 environment requires no one to set information, reshape or contextualise it; rather it has multiple attributes and offers a one‐stop shopping experience. Libraries cannot compete in this fast‐changing information landscape, and they must look at other areas for applying their skills.

One area is searching techniques, where teenagers find the use of subject headings and keywords bewildering. They use goal‐oriented searching on the web for their assignments, but are unable to discriminate among the internet's many resources. Their information behaviours are characterised by sharing and communication, similar to the principles on which Web 2.0 tools are based, and this bridges the gap for them between formal and informal information systems.

“Functional units” is a term used in the text to differentiate the way that librarians and users view information and communication, and IT as a facilitator blurs lines between them. Thus, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can be a framework or a social technology. Teenagers have embraced ICT for their social interaction, so libraries need to shape services that teenagers can own, which are informed by their habits and needs, and which they have a voice in creating. Libraries also need to adopt ICT tools and encourage the use of communication technology to access information, as well as to manipulate, transform and exchange it.

Another area of discussion is teaching young people how to evaluate online information, but the pressures of ‘crowd wisdom’ make this an impossible task. Teenagers also need to understand how intent and content influence meaning. These and other practical ways for teaching behavioural issues at school and at home are described. The book ends on a positive note – that librarians have the power to make the merger of information and communication technologies work for people in ways that are humane and enriching.

Related articles