We found this research into how the next generation is using the library fascinating. It is perhaps a reflection of a general trend to a more fluid approach to work, learning and socialising. It will be interesting to see whether these tools are something the next generation must arm themselves with in order to flourish in the future.
This study, conducted at Lancaster University, has looked into how students use the library. The findings are that this traditionally austere study area has changed for a new generation of students. Increasingly, the library is for socialisation and relaxation – a blended space.
The researchers found three main trends:
- Nesting: students fill their study space with personal items and home comforts. Moreover, they like to return to the same spot. Staff have dubbed them ‘dens’.
- Blending: study time is spent doing more than one activity, and moving between them fairly frequently. Students read, use their phones and laptops, eat and chat.
- Alone together: perhaps underlying these two trends is the third – the majority of students see the library as a place to work alone, together.
All three of these trends point towards a socialisation of the library space. Indeed, redesigns have reflected this, including Lancaster University’s own recent refurbishment.
Particularly interesting is that even spaces designed for collaboration are mostly used to work alongside one another, rather than specifically together.
The research explores this shift in working styles, how it is demonstrated and what it means for Gen Z’s future.