Why Library 2.0?

I’m seeing lots of posts about the concept of Library 2.0 – how it’s about serving our customers, how it’s not about technology, etc. Interesting stuff. However – that part about Library 2.0 not really being about technology? Yes and no.

No: Technology is really just one of many tools to get at the heart of library 2.0, which is CHANGE. Libraries haven’t really changed for A LONG TIME. And now we are changing in a big way. Our missions have changed, our collection development policies have changed, our staffing has changed, our primary services are changing, the formats of materials that we own and loan – changing.

We’re now visited internally, externally, digitally. Visited in person, via IM, cell phone, chat, or email. We count web visits and door counts…

Yes: Read the above No section again and tell me what part DOESN’T focus in some way on technology. Go on. Tell me. OK – I’ll help you out a little. This isn’t in the last section, but the general concepts of:

  1. constant change in libraries
  2. participation, sharing, and thinking outside the box

Those are the non-techie Library 2.0 concepts. Now – why are all these changes taking place? Hmm? Because of technology.

  • All the web 2.0 services out right now = technology
  • the creation and distribution of original content rather than being an information silo = technology
  • New services mentioned above = technology (ie., chat, IM, web access, gaming, etc)
  • New material formats mentioned above = technology (ie., digital audio, streaming media, digitized collections, even CDs and DVDs)
  • Even new ways to do traditional services, like reference = technology (virtual chat, IM, even patrons calling in via cell phones)

Of course Library 2.0 is all about technology. But not technology for technology’s sake. Not technology like silly, archaic, doesn’t-really-make-sense-to-anyone-outside-the-library-world automation systems. The technology I’m talking about goes back to the concept of meeting your customers where they already are. Our patrons are using web 2.0 services. They are using cell phones. They are gaming, IM’ing, chatting. they are consuming digital content. And we as libraries need to be there, if we want to meet and greet our patrons.

Library 2.0 Web 2.0