February 12, 2007

Have you heard of Library 2.0?

Writing about web page http://cites.boisestate.edu/v6i2a.htm

I’ve heard of Web 2.0 and am still trying to understand exactly what it is. I think it’s a convenient phrase to describe the next generation of web technology, although at what point Web 2.0 is achieved and we all start talking about Web 3.0 I’m not sure. The general theme for Web 2.0 seems to be collaboration.

Piggybacking onto this trendy phrase, the library sector has invented “Library 2.0”, which is understood to mean different things by library practitioners. There are some practical ideas to do with user feedback and participation in libraries associated with this concept, and although different libraries will have already been doing this kind of activity for decades, the implication with “Library 2.0” is that they will now be done through the web (using Web 2.0 technologies). Other people insist that “Library 2.0” is not something that is just based on technology but is about engaging users through whatever means, especially the non-traditional users.

Here are some practical ideas that I have distilled from reading about Library 2.0 online (not all suited to the academic library!):

users writing reviews
users adding tags in the catalogue
users contributing to blogs and wikis
gaming nights for teens
collaborative photo sites
RFID: tags in books that help us to locate them

But if, when, how these kinds of things are introduced will depend very much on what you think your library is for. The phrase “Library 2.0” opens up a debate on the very purpose of libraries, as discussed by Walt Crawford in the Cites and Insights article I’m linking to. “Library 2.0” seems to mean just what the person who uses it wants it to mean.

Perhaps the very fact that we have a new moniker for innovative library practices that raises the debate about what libraries are for is what gives our users the chance to contribute their thoughts and opinions about what they want their library to be. Or at least it might make library professionals listen to their users!

It seems to me that if Web 2.0 is all about collaboration and involvement, then libraries ought to be encouraging library users to contribute to the development of their services and space.

Does the planned re-modelling of our own library make us a Library 2.0 service? Yes because we planned it based on feedback from students, but it will only continue to count if we continue to evaluate our provision. In my opinion, what makes it Library 2.0 is not the comfy chairs and planned additional technology provision, but the continued striving towards improved services for our users, based on what they tell us they want.


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