Friday, November 23, 2007

#15 On Library 2.0 and Web 2.0

This whole question of Library 2.0 is a fascinating one and not one that can easily be covered in one post! I see the two main directions for public libraries as being libraries in a virtual environment and libraries building communities. Both of these converge and have as their key component social networking and user participation. I agree that we certainly need to get away from the "just in case" collection and the "come to us model" of libraries as they are traditionally perceived - except that there are other definitions of what these mean. The 'just in case" collection might be a combination of virtual and physical as may the "come to us" model. I can participate and form social networks at home with my computer, as much as in the library or in a face to face forum. I can come to the library virtually and I can search and find all sorts of "just in case" stuff out there from my computer at home.

But I am not sure that I agree with the issue about getting away from user education. I know this article was talking from an academic library point of view, so maybe it is different there. In public libraries, it is the Web 2.0 tools to say nothing of basic computer skills that people are thronging to the library to learn from us. I am thinking in particular of our hugely popular Computer Savvy Seniors program, a peer based one on one training program in computer skills for older adults, and our computer classes for older Chinese. Both of these are overwhelmingly successful, as has been our Click goes the library series which has been introducing the community to blogs, e-bay and other Web 2.0 tools.

We are atavars for the community and I don't see why we can't continue to be so. We want empowerment of users, we want user input into content creation, we want to participate, we want social networks, but we also want to help the marginalized and the dis-empowered and show them how to do all these things. We are there to help people meet their potential.

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