Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How Should One Define Library 2.0?

Meredith Farkas has made a valiant attempt at defining the rather ambiguous notion of "library 2.0" in a post to her blog Information Wants to be Free titled The Essence of Library 2.0?

I've excerpted the following definition from her well thought out and heartfelt (and long) original post:

"I’ve tried to define Library 2.0 for myself. I see it as:
  • Working to meet changing user needs - get to know your users and non-users, develop a culture of assessment, examine any and all assumptions about how services and systems should “be”, visiting other libraries and remembering what it is to be a patron, and then changing once you’ve figured it all out.
  • Believing in our users - trusting them, listening to them, giving them a role in helping to define library services for the future
  • Getting rid of the culture of perfect - being able and willing to experiment, learning from failure, being agile as an organization, continuously improving services based on feedback rather than working behind the scenes for ages to create the “perfect” product or service
  • Being aware of emerging technologies and opportunities - looking for partnerships in your community or with other libraries, being aware of library and technology trends, giving staff time to try out new technologies and learn
  • Looking outside of the library world for applications, opportunities, inspiration - understanding the culture of the technologies and how they are used by the public, seeing how technologies are implemented in non-profit and for-profit institution
Of course, if you asked me what any good library should be doing, you’d get that same list."


  1. Karl, thanks for posting this. Meredith Farkas' essay, "The essence of Library 2.0" is indeed thought-provoking. If you don't have time to read her essay in it entirety I suggest you scroll down and read the comments/responses that folks have left regarding the ideas in her essay.
    I'd like to have time set aside for a Library 2.0 "debriefing" at a libr dept mtg. Now that we've learned to use some of the "cool tools" that are out there, could we survey ourselves as to how these tools are working? Which ones are really impacting/servicing our users? Could we agree to disagree?

  2. Fascinating essay by Meredith Farkas and what others had to say. I particularly enjoyed the honest and refreshing response by Phil Bradley - see his weblog: (Karl: how do I make a hot link?)

    Phil simplifies the Library 2.0 debate as follows: "There's a bunch of stuff out there. New stuff that we've not seen before. Sometimes it'll help you do your job better. Sometimes it'll let you do new things. Sometimes you know it won't help at all. Your job is to look at it, play with it, explore it and see if the stuff adds benefit and value. If it does, use it. If it doesn't, go off and find something else that does. Forget about names, labels, because it doesn't matter. Just use the good stuff to be better at what you do."

    Barb: I agree with you that we need to take stock of what we have learned so far since traveling down the Library 2.0 road. What new tools are we actually using? To what end? How do we envision using the new tools to benefit our users? What do our users need? Have we sufficiently deployed these tools to assess how well they are working for us and our users?

    I'm contemplating whether a Library 2.0 "debriefing" at a dept. meeting would be the best venue to continue the discussion. I'll let others chime in here....

  3. The department meeting sounds like a good place to continue this discussion. I had never heard of library/web 2.0 before the retreat last year and think about how much I have learned since them.

    Some of the tools we have tried are working very successfully - IM reference and the new Wimzi widget are making librarians more accessible to students.

    Our library blog is becoming a place to share ideas. A number of staff members have become experts with Camtasia software. We are all becoming more familiar with wiki software and hopefully it will become a valuable tool for internal communication. Many staff members are now using photosharing (flickr), social bookmarking (delicious), and rss readers for personal use.

    Let us take stock of all we have learned and focus on which technologies we would like to invest our time and energy into to continue to make the library a learning environment for students and faculty.