thing 15: library/web 2.0

Librarians should be on the forefront of providing information services to users, but for some reason, we have a sizable contingent who seem to think that the innovations of the 70s and 80s are good enough for now. They’re the ones most often reacting negatively to anyone who mentions anything Library 2.0.

Anytime someone mentions some new web tool or gadget, and you think or say, “We don’t need that in our library!” or “What would you want to use that for?” stop for a moment. Do you use a computer in your daily library work? Do you use email to communicate with your colleagues and users? Have you talked to someone on the phone recently? These are all technologies that at some point in time, someone(s) didn’t think were needed in a library. They were wrong.

Maybe you don’t need to be on Twitter or Facebook to reach your users. (In fact, there have been many informal studies that indicate that students don’t want us in their social spaces.) But, you can use online social networking tools to expand your professional network, learn about what your colleagues are doing to improve services in their libraries, and share the things you are doing in your own library. Surely those are things that benefit the profession?

These things that people talk about as Web 2.0 are simply tools. You can choose how and when you will use them.

Library 2.0 has been used to describe a mindset that is open to exploring these tools and using them to enhance library services, but I think that has been a part of our profession for a long time. Library 2.0 was there when we began moving from card catalogs to online public access terminals. Library 2.0 was there when we opened up the stacks and allowed users to browse the shelves. Library 2.0 was there when we created free, circulating libraries that allowed anyone to access the knowledge they contained.

The philosophy of Library 2.0 isn’t anything new, we’re just using different words to describe what we already do best — exploring innovative ways to connect users with the information they are seeking.