Thoughts on Library 2.0

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 You’re old, you’re antiquated, you’re outdated, and you’re losing your clientele.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.

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3 Comments

Filed under 23 Things, Libraries and Librarianship

3 responses to “Thoughts on Library 2.0

  1. F.J.Devadason

    All these social community networking software techniques are purposely kept as PERPETUAL beta SOFTWARE and songs of their praise sung loud because their market sale value increases depending on the number of users and hence there is a concerted effort to boost up their usage even in areas where their usage is just that scratches the outer surface a little and does not address the core functions.

    In the name o fever changing technologies these are elevated to the level of all pervasive savior techniques.

    I am of the opinion that these are just communication techniques and do not address core issues of Libraries and hence cannot transform Library into a new version of Library.

    They have no standing to be called Library2.0. You may call them by any other name such as social networking perpetual beta techniques.

    These might have produced some minor benefits to library services, but hardly the radical change of the model.

    In fact each of these techniques can be learnt in half an hour.It does not take more than 30 minutes to learn to create a podcast,for instance.

    It is enough to spend sometime to learn these social networking techniques and use them if they are handy in situations that show distinct advantage in using them..

    I think it is not correct to call these as Library2.0.as these techniques are not developed with Library as the objective center,and do not address the core functions and operations of libraries..

  2. I think that you and Aurora have both touched on valid points here. I believe that some of the more provocative language around Library 2.0 is meant to overcome resistance from those on the other extreme who believe that no change at all is necessary. Like most of these impassioned debates, most people are in the middle and the provocative statements on both sides simply define the conversation.

    Having said that, I’m not quite as optimistic about the relevancy of libraries. Many of our methods and techniques haven’t translated well as we moved from a world of finite, physical collections to one of nearly infinite, constantly changing electronic resources. At the same time, we are facing competition in a way that has never happened before. This is not a good situation.

    Most of our electronic resources still have a very “old” feel to them on the Internet. The good news is that we’re coming to grips with that as a profession and stirrings of change have begun. I think that the traditional goodwill most people have for libraries will tide us over as we make this change. Libraries are not going away anytime soon. But we are changing and not a moment too soon.

  3. Pingback: BlogJunction » Blog Archive » Member Spotlight: Serving Multi-type Libraries in Minnesota

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