NJ libraries reaching out to millennials
As times continue to change, libraries across New Jersey have had to adapt to the rise of millennials and their reliance on constantly-evolving technology. In an effort to keep millennials engaged in this digital era, many libraries have started to undertake a variety of new initiatives aimed at attracting young users.
Last year, the New Jersey State Library teamed with Library Link NJ to initiate the Makerspace project in which a competitive $115,000 grant was made available. Libraries that applied had to explain what type of digital or analog space they wanted to create.
"From Atlantic City to Mount Laurel to Plainfield, we had 15 successful applicants and some put in 3-D printers and scanners. East Brunswick has a video studio in its library and offers classes. Some libraries have sewing machines and teach knitting," said Peggy Cadigan, deputy state librarian for Innovation and Strategic Partnerships.
The Makerspace movement is so big right now, according to Cadigan, and many local libraries are taking advantage of the grant initiative.
"Millennials are into technology and they are used to that technology working. Many libraries are now offering free music and people can download three songs a week. A lot of libraries offer Hulu and digital magazines and apps that people can download right to their computers or hand held devices," Cadigan said.
Libraries have also started to use websites like Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to reach millennials.
Texting is also being employed.
The Piscataway Public Library answers reference questions via text message. "If you text your question, a reference librarian will answer the question," Cadigan said.
Library visits are increasing as well.
"Libraries are still anchors in the community. Many have monthly networking events for the unemployed. They teach people how to use different networking sites. They offer all kinds of events, including 'how to' events to teach people different skills," Cadigan said.