Libraries users in “P” mode?

This article by Kathy Siera is just soooo relevant to libraries, and I think it speaks to Library 2.0 in ways that are not being addressed currently.

Several weeks’ back I took a one-night Digital SLR class, and at the beginning the teacher asked us each to say why we were there. All 18 of us said the same thing, one after the other: “I know I have an SLR that can do so many things, but I’m still stuck in “P”–Program Mode–and I don’t know how to use anything else.” In other words, we were all using our pricey bazillion-megapixel cameras like point-and-shoot disposables.

Here we are with all this power and flexibility, and we can’t get past AUTOMATIC. Why? It’s tempting to just write it off as a usability flaw. But that’s not the case with my camera–the Nikon D200 is dead easy to adjust. For most of us, the problem was NOT that we couldn’t learn how to use anything but automatic “P” mode. The problem was that we didn’t know why or when to use anything else.

It wasn’t simply a camera problem–it was a photography problem. The camera manuals describe precisely how to turn the dials and push the buttons, but never tell us why we’d want to. They focus on the tool rather than the thing the tool enables (taking pictures). What good does it do to master a tool if we haven’t understood (let alone mastered) the thing we’re using the tool for?

And that’s the crux of the biscuit to me. There are plenty of presentations, articles and books on social software, wikis, blogs, Flickr, IM and so on, but most people still use the Internet for 1) email and 2) Google searches. People don’t turn the switch from “P” (Library 1.0) to the Flow State Library 2.0 experience.

Maybe we have to stop calling ourselves “tech nerds” and focus on what the Library 2.0 technology does — facilitate collaboration. Maybe we ought to have conference presenations on successful collaboration, community building, and meetings and then include wikis, flickr, blogs and so on as ways to bring the collaboration to the next level?

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