The Lambrights

The continuing saga of the Lambright family

Library 2.0

Posted by Donovan on February 6, 2008

Just read John Blyberg’s blog post on Library 2.0 as part of step 2 of the 23 Things on a Stick program. He quotes Sarah Houghton’s (aka the Librarian in Black) definition of Library 2.0:

“Library 2.0 simply means making your library’s space (virtual and physical) more interactive, collaborative, and driven by community needs. Examples of where to start include blogs, gaming nights for teens, and collaborative photo sites. The basic drive is to get people back into the library by making the library relevant to what they want and need in their daily lives…to make the library a destination and not an afterthought.”

There is a lot in this article to respond to. I like Sarah’s definition but I think she leaves one thing out. Library 2.0 tends to focus on technological solutions as the way to make libraries “more interactive, collaborative, and driven by community needs”. I believe that much of the resistance to Library 2.0 stems from this focus on technology rather than disagreement with the basic goals.

John discusses the need to reorganize the library’s internal organization as implementing Library 2.0. I believe he is correct in his assessment but I would take it a step further. Simply increasing the focus of resources on the IT department and giving them a more public mission is not enough. Library 2.0 requires a change in focus for all staff, not just the techies. In fact, I see that one of the hallmarks of Web 2.0 (from which we get the Library 2.0 term): it enables non-techies to use technological solutions to better achieve their goals.

Let’s use collaborative photo sharing as an example. Websites like Flickr allow people to post pictures online where they can be viewed and commented upon by anyone. If I had wanted to create something like this for my library a few years ago, I would have had to:

      • Create a web page using HTML
      • Upload that web page to a web server, possibly administered by myself
      • Use FTP or some other protocol to load pictures to the web server
      • Update the web page to display the new pictures
      • Train my users on how to load their pictures to the server and make sure I know to update the web page every time one of them does so.

          Clearly, this is a job for IT.

          Now, with some of the Web 2.0 tools that are out there, I could achieve this same goal by:

          • Signing up for an account at Flickr
          • Use the software on their web page to upload my pictures
          • Give the URL for my photostream to anyone who wants to see my pictures. I could even print the URL on that favorite library promotional tool: the bookmark.
          • Show my users how to load their pictures to the Flickr account.

          No IT staff were involved in the creation of the Flickr account. No hard-core technology skills were required; just a basic understanding of the Internet and the will to make it happen. In order to be effective practitioners of Library 2.0, librarians (I use that term loosely to include all library people, regardless of degree) must add these to the tools of our trade.

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