Library 2.0 – its far from over

There has been a lot of discussion lately around the biblioblogosphere on Library 2.0 and whether its over, whether it should ever have been, what it is, whether its new or not and much more. If you want to follow the discussions, I suggest you check out Annoyed Librarian, David Lee King, Information Wants to be Free and many more.

I started thinking about it more when Ryan Deschamps at The Other Librarian came out with “We asked for Library 2.0 and got 2.0 Librarians.” Although I agree with his premise, I wailed when I read the part that said that he sensed that the “prominence of the Library 2.0 moniker has plateaued”. Why did I wail? Because we had only just started! Our library blog is now a year old (had to stop to do a blogiversary post on that blog!), but it is just scratching the surface of what we hope to do.

Anyway, that got me thinking out what Ryan was saying and yes a lot of the changes at my library have been driven by me, a 2.0 librarian and initially I think my attitude was of the “cool tools, how can we use them” kind. Fortunately, that time passed quickly and I have been refocusing back on our users. Nicole at What I learned today took the words out of my mouth –
“I’m all for everyone learning everything they possibly can, but not all the tools are the right fit in all organisations….. I just want to bring every tool I can to your attention, because one might just be the one you were looking for to solve that one pesky problem you were having.”

At the same time, our users have been changing. Our library website use is just starting to skyrocket – we have seen an over 200% increase in virtual visitors to our website in the past year. Our website is a destination for our library users, more than ever before, I think partly because of our new library system, but also because of the development of our users as computer literate people. Apart from the catalogue, a few select webpages and the blog, our website is an online brochure, which is fine in itself. However, my aim now is to try and make the virtual experience of the library at least equal to the physical experience and an online brochure doesn’t do it. We don’t have programmers on our staff and there are only 2 staff here with html skills, so the only way to provide better service through our website is by using Web 2.0 tools. We have started with simple things like booklists linking directly to our catalogue (not web 2.0 I know), a Flickr account and a Google Maps mashup for our branches and mobile library stops.

I’m not alone in this either. A big group of our library staff have enthusiastically started the Learning 2.0 program, in a project driven by the State Library of Victoria, which I am very excited about. We will have staff knowledgeable about Web 2.0 tools which is great for them and our users, but hopefully some them will also be full of ideas for projects and the motivation to be the ones to drive it. I can’t do everything, much as I try, so it will be great to have others on board to contribute, especially in areas where I have neither the skill, interest or motivation.

There’s so much more I can say here, but it would go on forever if I let him. So for me and my library, Library 2.0 is just entering the building, so its far from over for us. We may not call it Library 2.0 and in a way its something we have been doing for forever, but its also a new frontier that we are going to explore and have fun doing it too!

For yet another perspective and well worth readings is Kathryn’s post at Librarians Matter – “WhatÒ€ℒs new about Library 2.0? Shift in power“. She makes some great points and it brings home to me that the definition of Library 2.0 is not only different to each library, but to each librarian, all depending where they are at, as institutions and individuals. You have to love something that is that flexible! πŸ™‚

On a final note. There was a ton of feedback on Annoyed Librarian’s post – the “Cult of Twopointopia“. The post was fascinating, both in its biting wit and its ability to make me think. The numerous comments on the post were even more fascinating, for a couple of reasons. First – it was nice to see the passion of librarians on both sides of the argument. That’s one of the great things about our profession – we are generally very passionate about what we do. I guess it makes up only a bit for the less than professional level wages we generally earn. Second was that the arguments and flames were flying thick and fast and all I could think was that we are all supposed to be on the same side, so why are we turning on each other like this. We all have our interests and specialities, why aren’t we more grateful, accepting and understanding of the differing viewpoints that make us such a great profession?

That’s my 2 cents worth on the topic. Would love to hear what you think!

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    • Ryan Deschamps on September 11, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Hi Michelle — great post. Just to clarify, though. When I say that Library 2.0 has plateaued, I mean that the term we are using to describe the services has plateaued, not the services themselves.

    Your blog will continue to be relevant and important, it’s just I think people are going to start groaning if you use the term “Library 2.0” to describe what you are doing.

    • Michelle McLean on September 11, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Ryan,

    I totally agree about the terminology we use. Eventually the Web 2.0 tools we use will be integrated into what we do and Library 2.0 will drop away.

    Thanks for the clarification and for the comment – appreciate both.

    • waltc on September 11, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    What Ryan said…although it may be more likely that people will start yawning if you use that term. Using the tools when they’re appropriate: I don’t think there’s ever been much argument about the desirability of that–as long as the focus is on needs, not tools. That won’t stop. And yes, it is a great post.

    • Michelle McLean on September 11, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    Thanks Walt.

    I guess I am coming from a place where the concept of Library 2.0, whatever that is, is still very new. In that case, it is helpful to give it a label. So when is it time for us to stop using the label is what I need to figure out.

    • Chadwick Seagraves on September 12, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Well put Michelle. For 2.0 Librarians the trend is perhaps ‘maturing’. If taken in context of the Technology Life Cycle it might even be coming out of the ‘ascent’ phase and starting the ‘maturity’ phase where L2.0 concepts have passed bleeding edge and are now gathering strength.

    While we 2.0 Librarians, as early adopters, are looking ahead to the next new thing, many of our peers are only now coming to terms with what we know as “Library 2.0”. Others discount it completely and will never deem it valid.

    It has been nice to have a term we can use to describe what is happening and before we jump on to whatever lies before us there should be time taken to act as good stewards and reap the benefits of the L2.0 harvest.

    Call it whatever you want, the gamut of attitudes and services covered under the Library 2.0 term are still happening and bringing in new users.

    Our patrons and administrators don’t always adapt as quickly as we do. If we move on too quickly we risk leaving them in our dust.

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