Jenny Levine at The Shifted Librarian responded with a whole blog post (yay! Jenny posted! Jenny posted!). I almost responded in her comments, but needed some more time to process my thoughts. I’m not sure they’re processed yet. But I’ll throw this out – maybe y’all can help, and add to the discussion!
I’ll start us off with some observations from Jenny’s post. She quotes Andrew Burkhardt at the Information Tyrannosaur blog (yet another interesting blog to read) who said “The time has come for libraries to be social on the web. Social is the new normal. It has become mainstream and people expect it. Library 2.0 is not dead, it has just become boring and commonplace. And to quote Clay Shirky, “tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.”
Then Jenny goes on to say this: “The hard part, though, is that Library 2.0 doesn’t really replace anything … the opportunities these new tools afford us are in addition to everything we’re already doing, which causes problems, because we don’t get additional resources to implement them … That means being out in your community physically and digitally …”
My question is – are we there yet? I don’t think so. Remember my recent Facebook post? I pointed out that successful library Facebook Pages have staff members actively pushing out content and participating with their users in Facebook. There were some shining examples, and there were some, for all practical purposes, dead pages, too. Maybe those libraries ran into Jenny’s reality of Facebook being “… in addition to everything we’re already doing, which causes problems, because we don’t get additional resources” … so they dropped they thing they didn’t find to be important.
Or maybe, for those libraries, the technology has not yet “become boring and [more likely] commonplace.”
Here’s what I’m noticing when I speak at a library staff day event. I’m usually brought in to speak about “emerging trends and transformations” (translation – web 2.0 tools, services, and underlying philosophies). At these libraries, there’s usually a small cluster of staff that “get it” and are glad I’m there. There’s also usually a couple of staff that think that I’m somehow ignoring the digital divide, forgetting about people who need reading glasses, or even making library services tough for old and poor people.
Then there’s everyone else. For the most part, this larger group hasn’t really adapted to emerging tools, services, or philosophies (but are very willing to learn and to experiment). This is where the new stuff isn’t yet commonplace. For example, maybe some of them have personal Facebook profiles, and use them to reconnect with high school buddies, or maybe their daughter who lives out of state. But when I introduce them to using an organizational Facebook Page to connect with their community – to “be the library” to those people, in that digital space … well, that’s a whole different enchilada.
It’s the very same reaction that some staff might have if they were told to get out of the building, attend a local community focus group … and represent the library while there. It’s different like that … in the same way.
So, my tally on the good stuff mentioned in those posts:
- “The time has come for libraries to be social on the web” – Yes, definitely.
- “Social … has become mainstream and people expect it.” Yes and no. A growing segment of our community DOES expect it – but maybe not our traditional “regulars” who visit our physical spaces.
- “Library 2.0 doesn’t really replace anything … the opportunities … are in addition to everything we’re already doing” – Yes, definitely.
Emerging = growing pains. For many of us, I think that’s where we are right now. We are emerging in many ways, and will continue to do so. But that emerging thing brings a lot of growing pains with it – new things to learn, new priorities, new philosophies to adapt to our organizations, new jobs being created to meet new needs.
Yay! and Ouch! at the same time. What do you think?