“Welease Wibrarian tWopoint Oooo”

I think the Annoyed Librarian is hilarious, biting, and often dead-on with some of her criticism about current library-related issues. A recent post called “The Cult of Twopointopia” hits on alot of important weaknesses in the 2.0 rhetoric, particularly where they overstate the benefits of using Web 2.0 technologies or refuse to accept how rational individuals may choose not to join the Library 2.0 bandwagon.

But like most things rational, her readers sometimes revert into irrationality. Thus, from a rational criticism of the so-called Library 2.0 movement/manifesto follows an irrational trashing of anything having to do with Web 2.0 services and user-centered library services, and any defense of library 2.0 becomes evidence of group-think or outright stupidity.

As I commented on the post, the scenario begins to appear like the Life of Brian where a prophet will tell his or her followers to think for themselves and they can only repeat “yes! we must think for ourselves!”

Here is an example. I responded to one of the anonymous commenters who claimed that the only justification for library 2.0 services was that social networking sites were popular. Here is the exchange:

My Comment: A bit too reductionist there. In some cases, the L2 requests are both “no-brainer” ish and because of library culture fairly insane to implement, regardless of the popularity of social networking sites. Things like RSS feeds in the catalogue count here.

The [Anonymous] Response: “??? I prefer abstract to reductionist anyday. I assume you mean for updates to the catalog; we used to call those the New Book List. Packing it in a new format isn’t really revolutionary, and re: my previous comments probably more cumbersome than before.”

This put me in a dilemma. This person empirically does not understand the difference between putting a new book list in an RSS feed (format) and putting a New Book List on the web. Further, he or she does not appreciate that format, or at least the mechanism to distribute the format does, in fact, matter quite a bit.

Yet, if I say “you do not understand” I am part of the twopointopian cult who brow-beats everyone into seeing things my way. It is a difficult thing. If you told someone about the significance of the printing press, and the response was: “The Bible? We’ve had Bibles for centuries. Scribing it with some kind of horizontal Iron Maiden shouldn’t matter one bit.” How would you respond without saying “er. you just don’t understand the significance of the printing press” (no, I am not equating the development of RSS with the development of the printing press — I am making an analogy to demonstrate that the way information is disseminated does matter lots.)?

The only way I can think of to respond to this comment without being labelled a “library 2.0 cultist” is to lay out the benefits of RSS as plainly as I can.

Ok. What is the logistical difference between a catalogue booklist available on the webpage and the same thing with an available RSS feed?

  • In terms of cost, the RSS feed requires a) a small graphical link on the webpage 2) a small bit of PHP or Perl code to output SQL information into RSS format; alternately a tertiary web service could be used to make this happen.
  • The catalogue booklist means that your typical web user has to visit the catalogue “Oh what a horrible thing,” you may ask an a sarcastic manner, but read on. The question you have to ask here is, does the user care one bit about the importance of the catalogue? Well, maybe you need empirical evidence? It turns out that “library catalog” is a phrase that most library users do not understand. What they do understand is “find books.” So, while the book list might be something the user wants, the library catalogue is not going to be one of the say 5-10 websites that your average user will visit each day to get updates on the booklist. RSS? Well, with RSS, the booklist ends up on a MyYahoo, MyGoogle or whatever news resource which is on that website list.
  • Once the feed is created, the list can be put almost anywhere. On a library website. On a student’s blog. In a Integrated Learning System. Just about anywhere it is relevant.

In short, an RSS feed available in the catalogue is a fairly simple addition that can improve service to users. It is user-centric, because the user gets to decide where and when they want to see the data. Regular booklists are not user-centric because they force the user to remember to visit the library website to get their needed information. The difference may be subtle, but it is important.

Further, just because RSS may not bring in 10s of thousands of users daily, people assume that its implementation must be a failure. That’s not the point here. The point is that with little cost, you can make a small portion of your users happier than they were before. A service that is marginally better is still a service that is better. And all other things considered equal, the user will still choose the single scoop pistachio ice cream with the chocolate nugget over the one without. Little things do matter, and despite the hype or cultish attitudes of the few, we should not allow a curmudgeonly backlash to Library 2.0 cause librarians to lose sight of this fact.

Yet, RSS for a list of new books in the library is only one of many possible small benefits that librarians can do for little cost. Put a few of these pilot projects together and there is potential for a larger increase in service. Not guaranteed, no. But does any paid vendor guarantee success either?

Oh, but there was a response here as well:

“Libraries are continuously failing to create a new purpose or identity, and saying “It’s easy to implement” doesn’t quite cut it, the net basis of most L2 arguments are along the lines of “it’s easy, it’s quick, and *you* don’t know if it’ll work or not,” ignoring any contrary evidence. But don’t let that stop you…..”

Do we really need a revolution to create a new purpose or identity, or can libraries develop these organically through small improvements in service. I think the latter is definitely possible. Therefore, giving an easy to implement service a try (among all the other “big” projects that libraries put out there) is a positive step toward libraries and librarians creating a new purpose or identity.

Another criticism that came out of this scenario, was that the twopointopians ignore that the digital divide exists. I’ve seen evidence of this, actually. Once I watched a Second Life presentation on gaming in libraries with a presenter whose only response to a digital divide question was “they should just get on Second Life and then they’ll learn how to use it.” There was a slight cough in the audience. Personally, I was thinking “uh, what if I am running a 386 with a graphics card circa 1994 and only a few megabytes worth of RAM?”

That said, some Library 2.0 initiatives may open up resources for digital divide concerns. For instance, making staff and customers wise to something like Google documents may mean you do not have to purchase expensive productivity software for your computers. That opens up money for other things. Jessamyn West was able to make use of an old donated computer by installing Ubuntu as the operating system, also saving money. Then, because she put the video of her doing the installation, she was given a whole whack more CDs to share around. More money saved.

In the end, Librarians do need to plug their noses and *try* some of the library 2.0 broccoli. Pick the one that you think you will like best. Maybe it’s not Second Life or Flickr, but Zamzar. If it doesn’t taste good for your library. Fine. No biggy. Move on. I am no cultist and I do not expect people to implement services that clearly will not work.

But, if you refuse to taste the Library 2.0 broccoli, then the dialogue is over. Objectively, you “do not understand” and this lack of understanding has nothing to do with the library world going crazy on some kind of library 2.0 drug. The problem sits with a refusal to do your job: keeping aware of the latest social and technological trends (and, unfortunately for the librarian curmudgeon “trends” does include “fads”).

Superpatrons at the cusp of a Neo-Progressive Movement?

Edward Vielmetti, the ever illustrious Super-patron left a comment on my post called “We asked for 2.0 Libraries and we got 2.0 Librarians.” To spare you the use of your back button, I’ll put it here (it’s not long):

“library patron 2.0″. discuss

For a librarian to respond to this call is a bit like playing with a loaded gun. A librarian calling for a pseudo-reform in his/her patrons is kind of like reverting to librarian 1.0. I don’t think this is what Ed intended by the statement, however, so here is the best response I can offer for a patron to “take it to the next level” so to speak:

  1. Learn what you love to learn (until it hurts).
  2. Read what you love to read (until it hurts).
  3. Develop a sense of community, and foster it in others (until it hurts).
  4. Insist that your library support #s 1-3 (until it hurts [us]).
  5. Shame your library with cool inventions when we fail at #4.
  6. Share (via technology if you can) what you know if you think it will make another patron’s life better.

That’s my first crack at a patron 2.0, and now it is out of my brain and on to this blog, I realize that only #5 is that different from the kinds of reforms we have asked from our patrons for, like, ever.

Are we taking advantage of our Superpatrons?

Clearly, there is an opportunity for libraries to engage the broader community of online patrons to work actively toward improving library service. Why not an online advisory board? Whether requested via an Expression of Interest or hand-picked from some influential open-source community (Linus Torvalds as library tech advisor? That might light a fire under some tech innovators at your library), the technology is out there to engage superpatrons in ways that get them thinking proactively about their libraries’ web presence. Just a thought.

Neo-progressivism is Coming! What is the Response?

Though not a term I have coined, I believe that a sort of neo-progressive movement is upon us, and that the interest of people in libraries is part of this movement. By neo-progressive, I mean that certain circles of people are echoing the principles that founded such things as the Olympics, the Salvation Army, libraries and prohibition (ok. not everything about a movement can be good). That is, make yourself better physically, intellectually and morally so you can become a more proficient member of your community.

But there is an added piece to this, for the future I think: even if you are not the strongest, smartest, or goody-two-shoes in your community, do simple, proactive things that will improve the world’s situation. Examples:

  • environmentalists asking people to take small actions (buy fluorescent bulbs, quit idling at drive-thrus etc.) to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Bill Gates et. al. spending billions of dollars to support international efforts in a kind of philantropy termed “social entrepreneurship.”
  • Increased community outrage over violence by teenagers.
  • Blogs, wikis, Facebook groups, emails etc. advocating just about everything.

Granted, individuals can look at many of these actions with a great deal of skepticism — but the key component is a world on the look out for intelligent and effective “should dos” to help provide meaning in their lives.

Where Libraries and “Should Dos” Connect

If you listened to me when I blogged the Kings of Philantropy podcast from CBC’s Ideas podcast (if you didn’t listen to me then, it’s too late — CBC only keeps about a month’s worth of shows live at any one time), you may have heard the criticism of social entrepreneurs. For instance, if you puts millions of dollars into (say) a polio vaccine in Ghana expecting to save millions of lives, you might want to think again. Why? Well, you have to think about the real problem.

Real Problems and Measureable Solutions

What’s the real problem, you say? Well, so you prevent people from getting polio. Great — but that doesn’t mean you’ve saved a life. Why? Well, when a child is undernourished, Polio may only be the first of a large number of nasty diseases just waiting to attack the poor soul. While a child might not die of Polio, he or she may die of malaria, or cholera or a minor infection or any large number of serious diseases. See, the “problem” is not polio per se, but a poverty-stricken population that is susceptible to polio.

Meanwhile, your actions to solve the polio “problem” may convince government, NGOs and other aid agencies to divert resources away from other activities to jump on the “cure polio” bandwagon. In the end, you may make the community worse off with your great intentions.

Knowledge — global and local — the Library’s Competitive Advantage

If libraries were able to help communities understand their key problems in a local environment, while bringing them access to global technologies, we may be able to offer something, not only to the developing world, but everwhere.

The key difference is that librarians can no longer assume that the world of knowledge is sitting behind them, among the stacks. In the neo-progressive world, knowledge stands opposite the desk — with the patron. Our role is two-fold. 1) keep the “desk” from getting in the way of the patron’s access to information and 2) create an environment where the patron can see the answers to his or her problems from within — within the community and within him/her self. If we can do this, then we can solve real problems. . .

. . . and Library Patron 2.0 will take its place as the real Library 2.0.

Comments or Splogging?

For some reason, I have been receiving comments that have made it difficult for me to moderate.      That’s why I have found it necessary to create a “comment moderation policy.”   Feedback is appreciated.   It’s pretty standard fare, but necessary I think.   I would hate for someone to get scammed because of a link coming from my blog.   At the same time, I can’t spend years of my time trying to guess whether something is legit or not.

So, I outlined as best as I could, a policy that should help me determine what is or is not an appropriate comment for this blog.   If you feel that your comment was legit and I decided to block it, well you have three options.   1)  Change the page link so that it meets my comment requirements and comment again.  2) Demonstrate to me how your blog meets my policy requirements.  or 3)  Prove to me that I am Draconian with my blogging policy, in which case I may consider a change in policy.

Otherwise, expect your comment to be placed in my spam filter.    And, that could mean that Akismet accepts similar comments as spam as well.   Sorry, but this blog is for 1) me and 2) librarians interested in reading what I write.    Being able to promote a service, book or cause is a bonus that I am willing to tolerate within certain guidelines that are hardly unreasonable given the environment these days.

Too Bad “Librarian” Doesn’t Meld Well into “Entrepreneur”

So I stopped into the Uncontrolled Vocabulary live discussion forum only to be told that they were previously discussing my “We Asked for 2.0 Libraries” post from a few days ago. Besides being a bit surprised (though after today I have discovered that the post has potential to beat out my “no brainer” posts for most visited post ever), it was an interesting experience because I got to be part of the epilogue to the discussion and then had to go back and listen to the podcast to hear what was actually said about me.

There were alot of good points made, none of which I could really argue with. In fact, many were echoing some of the things I was trying to say. For instance, we are getting to the stage where Library 2.0 (for many) is going to die out as a buzzword. As one person noted, “maybe we should stop talking about the 2.0 thing and just get back to doing it” (rough quote).

There was one point, though, that could have been covered a little bit more, because it is essential to my argument. Basically, the most important change that Library 2.0 brought about was a change in [some] librarians. As I thought about it today, I thought — hey — it’s almost as if librarians are finding their own niche markets and acting like entrepreneurs.

The Librarian Entrepreneur?

It’s not an uncommon thing in the business world for employees to see opportunities that their organizations are not willing to jump at, break off and start their own businesses. It seems to me that librarians are doing something quite similar to this. To be realistic, there are some important differences:

  1. 2.0 Librarians are not exactly making money from their entrepreneurial activities.
  2. Most of the librarians are not quitting their day job.
  3. If anything, librarians are spending their own time and money to make these neato things happen.

Take the Uncontrolled Vocabulary podcast as an example. Someone (namely Greg Schwartz and Mary Carmen Chimato) recognized a gap in professional development — namely that librarians do not have the opportunity to discuss library-related stories and articles in real time. So they take a few Web 2.0 tools and turn them into a radio-talk show. Or a seminar class that works 10 times better than most I’ve experienced in University. This is entrepreneurship at its best — only better because it didn’t cost me anything to participate. 🙂

Librarians have many the same frustrations now as have existed probably since the times of Alexandria. Library courses with dubious relevancy, colleagues refusing to learn anything outside of their comfort zone, change occuring at a snail’s pace and so on to name just a few of these frustrations. What’s different is that individual librarians are taking proactive steps to solve hard information access problems as if they were individual library entrepreneurs. The good news is that, on the whole, libraries are letting their librarians be these entrepreneurs because they recognize that, in the end, if the public sees their librarians as important figureheads, so will they see their libraries as important too. They may be doing this in lieu of change but let’s face it, change is hard — and worse, sometimes it takes time and money that libraries do not have.

These activities are beneficial beyond libraries too. Let’s face it, the idea that libraries could be obsolete by the next generation is not a new one. This idea — as it should well be — is equal parts something to scoff at and something looming over our shoulders. This entrepreneurial style of library service could well be a savior for people trying to access free information if there ever came a time when libraries were shut down for lack of interest. It’s almost as if librarians are applying war paint so they can re-invent libraries should such a tragedy ever happen. Like it’s not a bad idea to learn karate on the off chance you have an intruder in your home, it’s also not a bad idea to practice starting new services from scratch in case that’s what we have to do. Many librarians do not see themselves in a particularly privileged social position just because they have a Masters degree and this is such a positive step that I can’t help but envision one of my favorite librarians inventing something so unique that journalists will be mythologizing about it for centuries later. Ok, that’s a dream — but it’s not exactly an impossible one.

Entrepreneur vs Professional

There is no doubt that I am introducing a false dichotomy, but I am doing so to point out the tensions between professional work and taking things into ones own hands. Professionals depend on peers to establish credibility. A good doctor is most often given that title because other doctors have bestowed it upon him or her. In most established professions, mere survival is not a measure of success. Because professionals often strive to achieve unachievable goals (ie. the judge’s ultimate goal is justice — but no judge has ever seemed to have worked him/herself out of a job), survival is often a given. Promotion is often described as being bestowed based on something called merit — which, while a bit mystical ultimately means “you can’t get credit in this field by just surviving at your job.” A failure to survive in a profession is a “true” failure, largely because it usually means the professional breeched ethics somehow or has been proven incompetent.

Entrepreneurship is measured most emphatically on making as large an organization as possible survive for as long as possible. Most people will marvel at the entrepreneur that managed to keep their business open for any length of time longer than five years. That’s because even the most lucrative business can be brought to its knees very quickly by a tough competitor. A failure to survive in the entrepreneurial realm is not a true failure, because it is expected that new business ventures will fail from time to time. Most businesses, on the whole, do fail because markets shift, competitors seize new market opportunities and so on.

To the entrepreneur, peers are the competition — the enemy and not to be trusted. While seeking the respect of peers, they do not count on them for status or promotion. Their friends are the people they serve — their users. Users/customers tell the entrepreneur that their ideas matter. The more customers, the better the idea.

It seems to me that librarians, though professionals, have taken considerable pride in their survival over the past few decades, despite the continuous banter that computers, then the internet, then Google, then digital media and social softwares will eventually take over. The user/customer focus, and complaints about systems made for librarians also implies a call for a more entrepreneurial style of service. Add other calls for things like taking risks and trying new things and it is clear to me that the call for library 2.0 is a call for entrepreneurialism in libraries.

You simply can’t tell me that if some god made all the libraries disappear right now, you wouldn’t have a big bunch of ex-librarians working at mcdonald’s during the day and still helping people find information at night. (Moreover, I bet those people happily would be paying those ex-librarians a nice heavy dollar to do it for them too).

Don’t get me wrong here, either. I am not saying that this entrepreneurial trend is unique to librarians — it is a global thing. There are people from all walks of life realizing that their ideas could mean something in the broader scope and act on those ideas by starting blogs, making YouTube videos and so on. It just seems that librarians are doing it surprisingly large numbers.

Keep the Professional Values, but Grow the Entrepreneurial Spirit

This brings me to another point made at Uncontrolled Vocabulary. I mentioned the demographic trend of low income people traveling to areas where there are few services (besides libraries) to support them. The reply came back that librarians are trained as social workers, so why should libraries be homeless shelters?

This is a very good question. In some cases it is a serious question — for instance, when a person has a mental illness they should be treated by people with an awareness of mental health medications, not by librarians. Drug abuse is another arena where, clearly, librarians are not equipped to help out.

But, for 90% of the cases 90% of the time, libraries are the ideal spot for low-income and homeless people — precisely because we are not trained as social workers. In my view, this is, in part, because of the adaptive, entrepreneurial side of many librarians. As folks like Jon McKnight and others have claimed, social problems are not solved most times by professionals making people better, but by communities seeing their own strengths and using those strengths to cope with their own unique situations. If librarians behave more like entrepreneurs — wanting to impress their customers more than their peers — then the opportunity to help people help themselves is all the more possible. That is why I advocate the teaching of community development strategies such as open space and appreciative inquiry in library schools. When seen without preconception of what information services are, these strategies are knowledge sharing strategies — equally valid as Library of Congress subject headings or any system of social tagging. Moreover, these strategies are relevant to the actual business of libraries (particularly public libraries) themselves — namely the development and support of self-directed, knowledge curious individuals. Continuing to be a “catch-all” social/community service is a key opportunity for libraries and a natural expansion of traditional library services.

All in all, I recommend finding yourself joining the folks at Uncontrolled Vocabulary or listening to the podcast for the last episode. Obviously, my brief moments on the show have given me a lot to think about and they should do the same for you. Go for it: it’s the entrepreneurial thing to do. 🙂

The Kings of Philantropy Podcast on CBC — Get it Quick!

I keep saying this, but subscribe to the CBC Ideas podcast.  Do it.   Right now.   It is probably the best podcast that is not related to celebrity, comedy or music.

A new series, called the “Kings of Philantropy” is about to be nixed from the list (Ideas only keeps about 4 podcasts up on its site at a time), but listening to it on my iPod the past day or so on the way to and from work has been amazing.

It talks about the new “social entrepreneurism” that is coming out of the big dollars being made by tech and media moguls like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Larry Page.    I can speak to its relevance to libraries in a “good news/bad news” trope.

The Good News:  The United States appears to be embarking on an era of progressivism and philantropy that could rival the efforts of Rockerfeller and Carnegie.

The Bad News:   The money is going to international public health, and a few swipes are being made at spending for libraries.

I wonder how we are going to find entrepreneurs in the developing world without giving the people access to the world’s knowledge, eh? — that said, public health is probably the first step for most developing countries — then we can look at schools and libraries.

There is also a good amount of interesting discussion about the challenges of accountability for social spending under a philantropic envelope, and the problems a business-minded “results focus” can have when it crosses paths with long-entrenched social systems.   An example offered is in Haiti, where a hugely amazingly high-level hospital was created to deal with public health, only to discover that a $200,000 expenditure on a better water system could help prevent visits from about 80% of their patients.

Either way, I think social entrepreneurism is a great move in the right direction.   The world is just going to have to learn more and better to get the systems right over the long haul.

We Asked for 2.0 Libraries and We Got 2.0 Librarians

We are closing in on a year after the September 1st article in Library Journal proposing a “new model of library service” called “Library 2.0.” Unless you have been asleep in your library duties, you ought to know that Library 2.0 calls for things like user-centered change, reduced institutional boundaries, and a heightened awareness of social software and related technologies.

My sense is that the prominence of the Library 2.0 moniker has plateaued and we are about to see put it in with nostalgia-inducing sayings such as “groovy” and “smashing.” I see the obsolescence of the phrase as an indicator of success. Sure, it was hype. But as hype it did exactly what it was supposed to do: raise awareness of a problem and get people thinking about possible solutions.

No Guff, it was all Hype

The success of library 2.0, as is to be expected, has been mixed. That was kind of the point anyway. Library 2.0 was, in part, a way of seeing success in failure — we had to learn to play, take risks, fail, and learn from the process. In short, the library 2.0 movement was not really about changing libraries, but changing librarians. Librarians needed our time in the sun, and now that we are getting our time.  Now that we are popular, hopefully we will see that we need to clean our houses before we invite people in.

Examples of Librarian 2.0 changing Librarians

As I’ve said, while we called for changes in libraries we actually got changes in librarians. While folks like Meredith Farkas, Helene Blowers and Jessamyn West got broad attention, I’ve seen many examples of people who looked beyond the time, space and resources of their workplace to offer better services to clients. Lots of librarians I have met started blogs and shared notes for conferences. Lots of librarians plugged their noses to try things like Second Life, Facebook, Twitter, and a whole range of other Web 2.0 tools, even though it was cutting away at other hobbies they enjoyed more. I know more librarians than is fair that have used their own money to have access to a test server so they can install, experiment and create various open source or self-made projects on their own. Lots of librarians gave us an opportunity to laugh at ourselves by creating YouTube videos, composing songs and photoshopping pictures for our amusement.

There’s no doubt that Library 2.0 got librarians to learn about themselves and the world of information they live in.   But, considering the “user focus” that supposedly went with Library 2.0, did our brains translate into actual services?


For the ILS, Library 2.0 has meant comments and/or tags in the catalogue front-end for some particularly innovative and/or resource-rich libraries.    In the broad spectrum, libraries are moving very slowly along these lines.   For one, very few libraries have the knowledge and resources to provide a useful overlay to our current systems that can provide these products.   While many resource-rich libraries have been very generous in offering their innovations to smaller libraries, they are not often able to provide long-term support for these changes — making the prospect of any major alteration to our core service a scary process indeed.

Many libraries depend on vendors to provide library 2.0 innovations for them.   LibraryThing has just started to offer a vendor-based service to get us started in this realm.   Other vendors are moving forward as well — for instance, Aquabrowser is offering visualization tools to help customers access information more easily.   However, on the whole, service enhancements such as RSS feeds, user comments, book ratings are largely enhancements that need to be provided over the long term by librarians with fairly specialized knowledge and an understanding of the long-term maintenance of code.   And if your code fails and you have failed to back-up your system — you are on your own.

The good news is that Librarians are learning how to code (If you want to learn to code in a library environment, here are my suggestions — in this order:  Html, XML, SQL, PHP or Perl, JSP or ASP, XSLT, & AJAX.   Bonus points for Ruby on Rails).   In an environment where librarians know how to code, open source systems such as Evergreen or KOHA become real possibilities and communities can develop that can support wider ranges of services in the long term.


Gaming has gone on in libraries for quite a while, in many cases to the disdain of staff.   The change that Library 2.0 appears to be making is that libraries are now actively encouraging gaming in libraries.   Changing the attitude towards games have helped libraries become what they have often longed for — popular with teens.   Managing this popularity is a topic for another blog post, but on the whole, being gaming-friendly has changed the outlook of libraries, perhaps for the better.

Some folks espouse that gaming has serious learning benefits associated with it.  Personally, I find that the benefits from gaming are limited.   I cannot conceive that the next Jimi Hendrix  will come out of young people playing Guitar Hero, for instance.   However, gaming as a recreational activity is no different from recreational reading.   Thus, it is a positive move that libraries are providing programs and help for young people access recreational technology.

Using Web 2.0 Services on the Whole

Using Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, del.icio.us and other social software to promote the library has been another side-effect of the Library 2.0 hype.  The interesting part of this in my view is the fine line between library services and library promotions.   If we put an RSS feed on a MySpace page, is that service or a promotion of a traditional service?   Either way, there is alot of benefit to engaging these services to help boost library usage, particularly among young people.

The use of these services in libraries also speaks to a broader societal trend — namely the globalization of library services and the promotion of “library” rather than “your local library.”    I will speak to this point later on, but using global services to promote local ones leads me to question who gains from Library 2.0 — librarians or customers.

Discussion — Whither a Core Library Service?

Library 2.0 has produced some minor benefits to library services, but hardly the radical change of model that was proposed in the article about a year ago.    The changes that have occurred, in my view, are hardly noticeable to the average customer because, for the most part, the actual changes in services are merely logical extensions to what libraries have done all along.

So, can we call Library 2.0 a lukewarm success?   A failure?   A waste of time and resources?  To do so would be to misunderstand libraries on the whole.    Libraries are largely democratic institutions and as democratic institutions they should change not with the rapid pace of technology, but with the slower pace of society.    Library 2.0 should happen when Society 2.0 develops — and that means once we have a majority of converted folks.   That puts libraries on the “late adopter” part of the adoption curve, to the chagrine of many a library 2.0 advocate I am sure.

This doesn’t mean that librarians should be on the “late adopter” side of the curve, however.   The largest benefit of Library 2.0 has been a radical change in the core service that libraries offer — namely, librarians (and by “librarians,” I mean anyone who works in a library).     In that realm, the largest success of library 2.0 has been projects like Helene Blowers Learning 2.0 programme.   Through their librarians, libraries are able to break out of such institutional barriers as normal operating hours and formal community locations.   Library service in the library 2.0 realm happens every time a librarian’s RSS feed shows a new and exciting novel to read.

To recap, the benefits of library 2.0 have resulted in rather subversive actions of librarians including:

  • Using personal web space to design and create potential new services.
  • Librarians are learning that previous technological barriers are being broken in big ways and are stamping potential technology projects with a “yes” more frequently.
  • Librarians being more active in online communities, and thus providing better access to information.
  • On the international scale, alot of “library” (as opposed to “your local library”) service happens on the 24 hour clock.
  • Despite the snickering at such lines as “guybrarian,” this year has been good for changing the stereotypes about librarians in the world.
  • Through blog posts, YouTube videos and other web 2.0 tools, we have amused, promoted and reminded users everywhere that we exist and can help.
  • New librarians and library students have had the experience of something cool to stitch their career choice to.
  • Librarians are also getting involved in the open space/unconference movement, which will lead to better community development on the whole.

In sum, Library 2.0 has done a lot for the library world.   So, while the term and hype dies down or changes to something else, rest assured that change has occurred in big ways and that libraries are adapting to the world.   They are not doing this through the institutions themselves, but through a steadily increasing change of heart in librarians on the whole.    Harp on hype all you want — Library 2.0 needed to happen and the world is better off because of it.

Baby and Bro

Baby and Bro

Originally uploaded by Greebie.

Ok.. It all happened on July 25th, but René Simon Deschamps was stuck in an incubator with a bili problem for the past little while.

8 pounds even; 20 inches long. Feeding like a little monster. Mom is doing great and all that.

As you can tell, Adrien is doing great too, though there’s going to be some adjusting of course.

Who does he look like? What do I know? 🙂 He looks like a little alien newborn, but I’m more partial to the 6 month + stage myself. But we’re all proud and we’re all having a lot of fun.

Ciao, and will probably post a few things soon.