Friday, May 25, 2007

What is Library 2.0?

Over the past three months, I've been writing a column called "Professional Developments" for my professional staff association. The first column made it into this blog back in March, but I never posted the second (from April). I'm remedying that now, and will follow up with May's piece when I finish it.


Professional Developments: What is "Library 2.0"?

Hello, all. This is the second installment of "Professional Developments," a (hopefully) regular column on the hows and whys of keeping current in librarianship. Enjoy!

Back in January, the Boston Region announced a special series of continuing education courses titled "Library 2.0: Using Social Networking Tools to Meet Users Where They Are." The workshop topics included MySpace, wikis, Flickr, blogs, tags, RSS feeds, Second Life and more. With luck, many librarians were able to attend these presentations, because these tools are the fundamentals of a different way of interacting with the World Wide Web: Web 2.0. Static websites, email lists, bulletin boards and databases are usually considered to be Web 1.0 – information comes from a central source and is directed out at thousands or millions of users. Web 2.0 is much more interactive, full of sites where people can have discussions on different topics or write reviews of places and things. In addition, users can create their own content, filling the Web with their interests, personal stories and conversations.

If you're noticing a theme, you're not wrong. Web 2.0 is all about interactivity, about a constant discussion between involved parties. Companies talk with their customers, people talk with each other, experts talk with dedicated amateurs – the most important piece is that the conversation goes in both (or all) directions, all the time.

Library 2.0 takes the same principles and applies them to library service. By engaging with our patrons, both in person and online, we can find out what they think of us and include them in designing library services and tools. Yes, we've always done this with suggestion boxes, in-person conversations and advisory boards, but the tools available on the Web make it easier to reach a larger audience than ever before. Most importantly, the Web is one place where we can find the people it's been hardest to talk to: the people who've never walked in our doors. Through review sites, blogs, news feeds and online advertising, we have access to the eyes and ears of thousands of non-library-users. As an added bonus, these same tools let us interact more intimately with our current patrons, too.

Every day, something new is published about Library 2.0. I've found these articles, books and reading lists to be good starting points:

Library Journal article on Library 2.0:

"Into a New World of Librarianship" by Michael Stephens

"A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto" by Laura Cohen, Academic Librarian in Syracuse

The Learning 2.0 program at the Public Library of Charlotte/Mecklenberg County

An interactive reading list on Library 2.0 at Squidoo

The Long Tail, Chris Anderson
Naked Conversations, Robert Scoble & Shel Israel
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, Don Tapscott
Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service, Michael Casey & Laura Stavastinuk
Library 2.0 and Beyond: Innovative Technologies and Tomorrow's User, Nancy Courtney (June 2007)

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