There’s some good discussion going on related to my two posts on the Basic Competencies of a 2.0 Librarian. For example, the author of the Library Shrine blog says this: “Judging by the questions we do get, most of the competencies David Lee King suggest seem kind of unneccessary.” And an anonymous commenter said “What’s the point in knowing these skills, if they can’t be used on library computers? … So until the library’s computers are capable of supporting the tasks on this list, it’s ridiculous to ask librarians to know how to do these tasks.”
I didn’t make something clear in my previous posts, so I will attempt it now. When I created this list, I was thinking about librarians producing content. The library world is beginning a transformation from a single focus on content-storing-and-retrieval to a more varied focus where creating content is also important. This is happening for many reasons… one reason being the ease of digital content creation that web 2.0 tools allow. Librarians, especially librarians hired to do 2.0-ish stuff, are being asked to create content – write blog posts, create screencasts and podcasts, experiment with video, and teach other library staff how to do these things.
So that’s where my list came from… and that leads to the other question I received: why learn these things, when you can’t do them on public PCs? At my library, for example, they’re correct – no one can come up to a PC, plug in a microphone, and start recording a podcast (not yet, anyway – get back with me in a year or so). So why should staff learn to do things at the library that patrons can’t do?
Here are my reasons:
- Professional development – to keep your skills up – what if you suddenly need a new job? Many libraries are starting to ask for these skills, and learning them will place you at the head of the pack.
- saving time – some of these skills can actually save you time. RSS, for example – do you check new/hobby/library websites often? If you subscribe to those pages via RSS, the updated info comes to you, so you can read them at YOUR convenience. Just one example of many.
- be relevant to the next generation – National trends show that people under age of 30 do 2.0ish things at home and on other websites (hence the popularity of Flickr, Youtube, Facebook, etc, etc, etc.). These people expect the same level of service and freedom when they visit the library. And (probably more important) they also expect the person who works with the library computers ALL DAY LONG (ie, a reference librarian) to understand 2.0ish things, and to be able to answer their questions.
- teach the current generation – People older than 30, employees asked to do new things at work, etc… they need to learn to do these things. Why not teach them at the library? For example, Topeka teaches MySpace and Blogging Basics classes, and we’ll probably expand those offerings.
- be a community leader – I’d guess that many people in Topeka have probably not heard of web 2.0 – but they HAVE most likely come into contact with it – RSS feed and Subscribe buttons can be found in many places on the web, many businesses are starting blogs, many people have used customer reviews on Amazon, etc – can’t we be the leaders? Can’t we be the resource people come to when they want to know more about a topic? Isn’t that what a library is for?
OK – those are my thoughts. What are yours?