Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Library 2.0

There seemed to be some key, integral characteristics of Library 2.0 that were repeated throughout the Web 2.0 profiles and in Wikipedia.  One being that it requires, encourages, and thrives off of user participation.  Another is that to make Library 2.0 successful you need to meet the user where they are, whether that be virtually such as with Instant Messaging or in terms of the user’s technology skills.  Overall, Library 2.0 shows faith in the library customer base.  Instead of trying to mold the customer to what the library wants to deliver the library is molding and changing to give the customer what they want.  By making the user a “participant, co-creator, builder, and consultant,” Library 2.0 is telling the user that, “Yes, we have faith in what you are doing to find information and we want to hear what you have to say.”  For many professions and professionals this can be scary.  Do my degree, knowledge, and training not mean anything?  But, the adaptation of what librarians have been originally been trained to do to the evolving needs of the user is a true testament of the professionalism of the field.  Letting and welcoming users to tag, review, comment, etc. gives up some of the librarian’s control over this area, but as John J. Reimer writes it can help to produce better metadata.  A similar idea is voiced by Michael Stephens when he writes that “the future of libraries will be guided by how users access, consume and create content.”  The loss of control in these areas may be scary but it is necessary for the continuing of the profession.  If we are not using tools such as Library 2.0 to listen to the user and give them a voice, there will be no users.  Instead of librarians throwing their hands up in the air and saying that they cannot compete with technology and the constant evolution of information, Library 2.0 is a form of embracing it and going in the same direction as the user as they find new ways to utilize information.  It takes information retrieval to the next level, and as Wikipedia states, works to change the previous one-way flow, from library to user to be released in every direction (library to user, user to library, library to library, and user to user).  That community of equals sharing information is what Library 2.0 is about.

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