There’s been so much back-and-forth about Library 2.0 (whatever that is) that I find myself hesitant to write about it. To get myself started, I took a look at the Wikipedia entry for Library 2.0 and tried to apply it to my own library – which, admittedly, is a very specialized library, so my reactions in regard to libraries in general might be quite different. But the rest of the blogosphere has been kicking that can around for a long time already…
Here are what Wikipedia calls the key principles of Library 2.0:
- “Browser + Web 2.0 Applications + Connectivity = Full-featured OPAC” – OK, you know what, my library’s OPAC kinda sucks. I mean, it’s impressive considering it’s built out of Microsoft Access and ColdFusion, and built entirely by people who are not really experts in search or user interface design. But I’m sure the average user is somewhat underwhelmed, if not out-and-out frustrated by it. When your entire collection is a few thousand items, dwarfed by the large academic library a few hundred feet away, and primarily service-oriented, what’s the point in investing a lot of time and/or money in the OPAC? On the plus side, because our system is so homemade, we can make changes just about any time we want.
- “Harness the library user in both design and implementation of services” – One of the advantages of having a very small (a couple hundred people) group of potential patrons is that it is very easy to involve patrons in everything you do. We have a long history of doing that, and it has only been increasing.
- “Library users should be able to craft and modify library provided services” – We have a long history of this, too. OK, you can’t tag books in our catalog, but we’ve got a ton of subject- and task-specific RSS feeds you can subscribe to.
- “Harvest and integrate ideas and products from peripheral fields into library service models” – My unit is called an “Information Core” and includes a library and data archive. We work closely with other units (computing, programming, geographic information analysis) in the research center to provide our services. It’s often more of a challenge to impose a traditional library model than it is to borrow from other models.
- “Continue to examine and improve services and be willing to replace them at any time with newer and better services” – We do this constantly. When the NIH Public Access Policy came along, we were able to respond fairly quickly and provide resources, services, and training to help our researchers comply with the policy. Our university libraries have been promising training, but all I’ve seen so far is a handout with a model copyright addendum.
I conclude that my library is pretty 2.0. I also find myself tending to agree with those who say Library 2.0 isn’t anything particularly new.