Library 2.0 Weltschmerz

Laura Cohen at Library 2.0 has a nice post about whether or not Library 2.0 is snake oil or a new direction. She’s more circumspect about it than I could be, and it’s nice to read a moderate examination of the topic. This following passage really stuck with me:

I would love to see design thinking applied in my library. Among other things, it would represent my library’s commitment to identifying and solving problems in a proven, systematic way. But I wouldn’t want us to be limited by design thinking in all that we might do. This is because the introduction of a technology can evolve in unexpected, and unexpectedly useful, ways. You might carefully plan to solve one problem, and another one might be solved along the way. The ball starts rolling, ideas take root, examples emerge, small sparks of interest and even enthusiasm begin to spread. Just think about blogs. They began as “trivial” personal journals, and are now finding their way into the life cycle of serious scholarship.

I would also like see design thinking applied at my library- it seems like a good approach to keeping most libraries relevant and sustainable in the long term.

Laura also references John Blyberg’s blog post Library 2.0 debased, which prompted me to actually make this blog go live. I particularly liked this line:

The true pursuit of Library 2.0 involves a thorough recalibration of process, policy, physical spaces, staffing, and technology so that any hand-offs in the patron’s library experience are truly seamless.

The whole Library 2.0 movement/phenomena has been extremely problematic to me because the full meaning and relevance hasn’t quite been teased out of the hype and flash. After I attended Internet Librarian in 2007, it made me dislike the term even more because it was clear that there wasn’t really any consensus on what Web 2.0 technologies meant for libraries, other than it’s fashionable. Blogs, wikis, social networking, and I supposed even Second Life are fine and dandy for libraries to include in their arsenal of services if they have a point and users will respond to them.

Some Library 2.0 enthusiasts, or as the Annoyed Librarian dubbed them “Twopointopians”, seem to think that every library needs to adopt the latest technology trends to stay relevant with their patrons. I don’t think libraries should shy away from change, but they shouldn’t adopt technology because it’s the hip thing. Does every library need a blog? Probably not. I know my library doesn’t need a wiki because our patrons won’t use it, but that’s not to say my SLA division shouldn’t adopt one. In that way, I think Blyberg’s got it right in that we all as library professionals should take Library 2.0 as an opportunity to reevaluate what we’re doing to make service better, not keep up with the Joneses.

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