User Behavior and Expectations


We are serving a new generation of students, the Millennials, who were born 1981-2000 and who have a different set of behaviors and expections around web sites than our past library patrons.


  • Frenetic multitasking
  • Highly interactive
  • Highly social
  • Confident with a variety of media; have established conventions for navigating web, and Reluctant to ask for help
  • Scan don’t read web pages
  • Begin their research on non-library, aka Google, site; can’t expect to “lead” them to resources
  • Expectations of web sites:

    • Expect content to be digital and immediate
    • Expect discovery to be Google-like, high expectations set by previous web experienceExpect access anytime anywhere
    • Impatient with “clunky” library sites

    Expectations of social functionality:

    • Commenting
    • Rating and reviewing (voicing opinion)
    • Send to a friend
    • Share applications (like a calendar)
    • Subscribe on the spot
    • Save for later using own social bookmarking system
    • Blog or comment area to know what other people are saying
    • Sharing discoveries
    • Creating mashups
    • Alternate navigation – tag clouds, top links list, zeitgeist, relationship maps, mashups


What types of outreach do we need to establish/revise to reach the Millennials?

What types of online resources can HCL provide to best serve this library user?

How can we coordinate the production of online resources so that libraries are not duplicating services and so that all needed resources are being created?

3 Responses to “User Behavior and Expectations”

  1. Nancy Cline Says:

    How do we (HCL) address the needs/expectations of the Millennials and at the same time, create and manage web content for our other constituencies who may not share the same characteristics or be at ease with the “social functionalities” listed above?

  2. Rebecca Graham Says:

    A role-based or focus-based website might be one way to accomplish serving multiple diverse constituencies. Later this summer the Countway Library of Medicine will be launching such a site here within Harvard. Currently you can see an example of such an approach at Stanford’s Lane Medical Library:

  3. Deb Morley Says:

    Perhaps we should abandon our focus on what “our” Web site should look like, and instead provide robust and portable research objects and information nuggets that can be served to specific vertical portals, i.e.