Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Reason We're Here: Library 2.0 and Thing #15

We've been talking about this web 2.0 thing for a while now, and we've talked about how many of these web 2.0 tools can help us in our work as librarians. But as Thing #15 reminds us, there has also been a lot of talk lately (in the blogosphere, among other places) about the notion of Library 2.0. I'm a big fan of most of this 2.0 stuff, but even I have to admit that it gets a little silly, making everything 2.0 this or 2.0 that. I don't know if it's that important that we label it "library 2.0", but rather that we just adjust how we think about libraries and our users and how we can best serve them.

Working in a busy urban branch like I do, my opinions of libraries have evolved. I suppose it goes along with the whole library 1.0/library 2.0 thing. I like a lot of the perspectives about what library 2.0 is. I particularly liked how Michael Stephens talked about how library 2.0 is user-centric. This was something that actually used to make me very angry in library school. In one of my classes, we read a lot of theory, and I distinctly remember reading an article (that was fairly recent) that talked about molding the library's services to what the users need and want as if that was groundbreaking rocket science type of stuff. It just seemed obvious to me. I know that isn't that old a concept for libraries, but honestly... how else will libraries EVER stay relevant? I mean, really.

I feel a bit like I'm writing in circles without saying much of use, but here's my basic opinion: Libraries definitely need to change some basic things in order to continue to be relevant. There needs to be some sort of vision of Library 2.0 (or just libraries NOW rather than how they always used to be). I don't personally think that libraries need to have cafes or be like bookstores with displays and hand selling. But I DO think that libraries need to pause a moment, think more about how users do research and connect with information in this Internet age. People are social. People like to collaborate. Like web 2.0 allows us to connect in new ways, libraries need to find new ways to make connections: between our users, with our users, and above all, between our users and information. That's why we're here in the first place. Information isn't just books anymore, and maybe our users can find some of it on their own, but we can still do so much as librarians to foster all of these connections. And that's why we need to be 2.0 librarians.

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