We’re in the midst of the state-wide 23 Things program here in Minnesota, and thing 2 is to ruminate on the concept of Library 2.0.
It’s interesting to take a moment and actually ponder how all of this may – or may not – be of value to libraries. It’s also interesting to read what others are saying about the concepts. Coworker/copresenter/buddy Aurora had some insights that I think are right on:
My thoughts, though, fall somewhere between the hopeful posts listed on the page for Thing 2 and the newer Library 2.0 post on Blyberg’s blog. I do have one basic problem with Blyberg’s blog post that is required reading on the 23 Things page: the assumption that libraries aren’t relevant. Circulation has, for the most part, steadily increased since 1990. How is that proving our irrelevance? But somehow, all the library literature out there acts like libraries are some decaying being. That bothers me. We fail as librarians in buying into the hype that libraries are dying on the vine, without actually looking at the situation very critically. I think that is one of the main failings of Library 2.0– it’s all about poking holes into institutions that may, yes, sometimes need a finger in their direction– but it seems to be poking those holes at random with no real evaluation going on.
Good point, and one that hadn’t consciously occurred to me, but was instead lingering in the back of my mind. Libraries are relevant and are important – and aren’t failing as institutions. It’s not that what we’re doing is wrong, but much of the Library 2.0 literature insinuates that we are. You’re old, you’re antiquated, you’re outdated, and you’re losing your clientele. Hmpf. No wonder so many librarians are a bit put off by the whole thing.
Look, libraries are still doing what we’re best at doing – finding stuff and organizing it so people can find it. We’re the keepers of the information, and we’ll gently take you by the hand and help you find it. It’s what we’ve been doing for a very, very long time, and it’s what we’ll continue to do. So chin up, Dear Librarian. You’re doing wonderful things.
So, what about this Library 2.0 stuff? Well, they’re swell new tools that can help you do your job better, that’s all. For all of the hype and occasional hysteria, all of these things are tools. Nothing more, nothing less. Some of the tools will fit better for some libraries than others. Some of the tools may not fit your situation at all. But not every tool works for every job – that’s why we have tool boxes with many, many tools. Don’t use a hammer when a wrench will work better.
Don’t be afraid to give some of this stuff a try. You just may find a new tool for your library tool box.