I’ve been thinking about Library 2.0 a lot lately, and was recently asked to discuss my thoughts on the concept. As I was thinking through my answer, something clicked. I’m slowly getting it (well, getting more than I got before, anyway).
I’ve always accepted the notion of Library 2.0 – it makes sense to me, seeing that many industries have done much the same thing: they’ve taken the 2.0 out of Web 2.0 and tacked it onto their field (hence, church 2.0, music 2.0, law 2.0, etc). That part has always made sense to me.
The part that is starting to click is what other fine librarians have been saying about Library 2.0 – that it goes much further than using Web 2.0 tools, and that you can do Library 2.0 without technology. That’s not made much sense to me, until a couple weeks ago.
Some of you know I’ve been teaching a class/doing a seminar on Web 2.0 in libraries. In it, I define Web 2.0. First, I give parts of the Wikipedia definition of Web 2.0. Then, because good chunks of that Wikipedia entry don’t make much sense to many librarians right off the bat (for example, the pretty major concept of “web as platform” – do you know how long you have to talk to explain that one???) … I simplify it. I say Web 2.0 is all about communication, conversation, connecting and community. That makes sense to everyone, and then I show how those concepts are played out through Web 2.0 tools, like blogs, IM, wikis, etc.
I was looking over those Powerpoint slides, and thinking about Library 2.0, when something clicked: in Web 2.0, one does those things – communication, conversation, connecting, and community – via the Web 2.0 tools. That’s what it’s all about. But in the Library 2.0 world… A library might start thinking more about those four concepts because of the new-fangled, emerging Web 2.0 tools. They might think – wow, I can hold cool conversations with patrons that would never happen if we chatted at the circ desk, while roving the floor, or if I have an open door policy. But – these four concepts don’t HAVE to happen ONLINE. These concepts can even happen without electricity, for pete’s sake!
Yes, at this point, some of you are possibly thinking “but gee David, we’ve been doing these things for years.” Or “Well, I can name five public libraries in western Ontario that have been doing those for years!” And that’s cool. But by and large, libraries are not good at doing these things, of if we think we ARE good at them, it’s doing them within the confines of an older library model.
Historically, here’s what Libraries have done with these concepts (and what I think Library 2.0 can do with those concepts):
We have communicated at the service desk, during bibliographic instruction sessions, and through a printed pathfinder that we hand out to patrons. That’s not the 2-way communication Library 2.0 is talking about.
Conversation? Libraries have historically been all about the “hush” – as in “hush! You’re in a library.” And when patrons want conversation, we stick them in the “loud room” that’s behind closed doors. The whole library experience is designed for “the hush.” Library 2.0 would come close to flipping that experience. Instead of creating “loud rooms,” why not create “hush rooms,” and open up the rest of the library (digitally and physically) for conversation.
Where do we really connect with patrons? Possibly at the service desk, possibly in a seminar we hold. Cool. But Do we really connect with those lists of web links arranged in alphabetical order? Probably not. Do we connect with our language – ILL, OPAC, Bibliographic Instruction, Holds, reserves, policies, no food, no cell phones, No, No, No? Probably not. Library 2.0 is all about opening up communication – some through new, cool channels like commenting, IM, Flickr, etc. And some through collaborating with patrons.
Libraries traditionally have done ok at this – we tend to have meeting rooms, and according to the OCLC Perceptions report, we are perceived as community meeting places. That’s good. But Library 2.0 would go further – don’t make the community come to us – go out into the community. That’s where the whole “go where your patrons are” mantra comes from.
I’ll add one more – Sharing:
We share. We share for 3 weeks, and then fine you if you don’t bring what we shared back, in pristine condition. In the library 2.0 world, the concept of sharing connects more with the concept of strategy guide. We’re there, we know how to do it (whatever “it” is), and we know who/where/how to ask for more info. We’re ready and willing to get you to the next level of life when needed. We’re there to provide great, positive experiences for you – digitally, physically, mentally – so you have a great time, so you learn lots, and so (most importantly) you come back for more.
Thoughts? I’d love to hear them.