Librarians Matter Blogger Kathryn Greenhill of Australia posted an intriguing concept on her Blog way back in April 2007. (And thanks much for permission to quote liberally.) She posited that:
I think Library 2.0 is used to describe two concepts. One is applying Web2.0 at your library. The other is the flexible, nimble, evolving, user-centered library, kickstarted by Web2.0 concepts and attitudes. One day the second will have its own name.
To me, there are two concepts called “Library 2.0″ – at the moment more or less covering the same libraries doing the same thing, but which will diverge at some point. The second concept will one day need its own name. I have buzzword fatigue and I’m happy to call it Library2.0 for now, but only for now. To differentiate it here, I’m calling it Library2.0+, but I think it deserves something that will date it less and is friendlier.
CONCEPT 1 – Library2.0 – Web2.0 in your Library
In the first concept, Library 2.0 definitely involves the elements taken from Web 2.0 and the attitudes and expectations it brings – but not all of the time and not in every institution if it doesn’t fit their community.
• 24/7 access
• Social networking
• Read/Write web
• The ‘net, not a single PC as a workspace
• User controlled tagging
• Collaborative creation
• “Humanized” institution where you can hear the voices of real people inside it
• Focusing on the needs of the user, not what suits the organization best
• Mashing up and value adding on top of available software
• Focuses on open source, not proprietary software
• Profiles, ratings, reviews, chat, “friending”
• Perpetual beta
• Tools like RSS, wikis, blogs, forums, photo sharing, SMS
• Access via many devices – mobile, handheld, desktop, telephony
So, one version of Library2.0 is “Web2.0 in a library”.
CONCEPT 2 – Library2.0+ – Flexible, nimble, evolving, user-centered libraries
The second concept involves some of what we have always done, and some rethinking. Web2.0 is a catalyst, but not the only element of this.
For years, libraries have worked in a collaborative, user focused way, implementing high usability standards – we are already Library2.0+ in some ways.
Some of Library2.0+ is tossing out a few of our traditional core functions because they have been replaced (e.g. Google and reference work – not quite!) or sharing our core functions (e.g. Google Scholar). We are putting centre stage previously unnoticed functions. The academic library as study hall and social space is an example of this. This fits in with Laura’s idea of “timeless adaptability”.
Ideas like “going where your users are” have been sparked by Web2.0 that created forums and spaces where it’s possible to interact online instead of waiting for our users to come to us. Library 2.0+ extends “going where the users are” beyond our PCs – like Ryan’s suggestion in his Top Ten Zero-tech Library 2.0 “no brainers” for Public Libraries that we volunteer in the community.
Web2.0 brings us the informal voice of blogs and web site architecture focusing on the users’ needs. Library2.0+, sparked by this change, is applying it elsewhere and takes it further. We are changing signage, re-writing paper forms, rearranging our collections, reconsidering our overdue policies and even how we talk to our users.
Restating, Kathryn wrote; “I think Library 2.0 is used to describe two concepts. One is applying Web2.0 at your library. The other is the flexible, nimble, evolving, user-centered library, kickstarted by Web2.0 concepts and attitudes. One day the second will have its own name.”
I suggest that the term 21st Century Library may be that term. With the emphasis on 21st Century Skills in education that has been progressing for several years now, it seems that at least school and academic libraries are moving in that direction to support those efforts, and develop services to meet the needs of their staff, faculty and students that support the 21st Century education model.
AND, if we in the public library sector think about it, even briefly, we will recognize that many of our patrons are, or will be influenced by that new education model. Our Millennial patrons are products of an education system implementing 21st Century Skills. It’s no stretch to imagine that those patrons will never flock to the public library if they are confronted by a 20th Century services model.