Purpose – The so-called “digital native” – the first generation of students and learners who have been born and raised in a world of digital technologies – is now in our universities and, hopefully, using library services. This paper aims to survey recent debate about the delivery of information services to the “digital native”, using Hong Kong academic libraries as a case study to reflect on the appropriateness of the services offered. Design/methodology/approach – The paper questions whether academic libraries which have begun to recognize this phenomenon, and have changed their services significantly in response to this “digital” generation of students and their approach to learning. It looks at the role that academic librarians should have in equipping tertiary students to function in the digital information environment. It also questions whether academic librarians continue to have a role in this, or if they are in fact lagging behind the students' understanding of information technology, and their adoption of new technologies to acquire and use information. Findings – The paper finds that libraries will be better served in the long run if they consider in what particular ways they appeal to students, and focus on developing services that are aligned with student preferences in their access to and use of information. Rather than competing with search engines, libraries can learn from the way in which they design their services, and through link resolving software can combine the convenience of the web with the quality of their own resources. Identifying reasons for using the library which are not satisfied by the internet, and promoting these through improved virtual and physical access help to define the niche that academic libraries serve and how they can build a better affinity with their student community. Originality/value – The paper provides useful information on developing academic libraries to accommodate the new digital developments in information.
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