The Problem with Labels

I have to wonder about the value of such labels like “Library 1.0” and “Library 2.0” – in terms of getting library staff to think about their services in new and different ways. Alan Kirk Gray recently wrote a post entitled Library 1.0on his new blog, Last Clear Chance. Ryan Eby joins the discussion over at ebyblog with his take on Library 1.0 Problems. While I think that both posts make some really good points, I’m more concerned about the way in which the authors label things as either Library 1.0 or Library 2.0. Alan Gray thinks that “Customer Service is Library 1.0. Period. Full stop,” changing signs in library 1.0 and that rethinking policies is 1.0. Moving to library 2.0 is a much more involved process that will take time and effort. Ryan chimes in on his take on customer service with his comment that “Some could argue that changing to be more customer service oriented is Library 2.0 and a major change. My counter is that your just farther behind and really need to fix the Library 1.0 things as well and they should probably have higher priority.”

Ultimately, I don’t think these labels mean anything to the majority of people working in libraries – people who work hard to improve their services on a daily basis. In fact, I think that such decisive demarcations between Library 1.0 and 2.0 may actually inhibit some from branching out and making some necessary changes. All libraries are not created equal – nor are they at the same points in terms of service or in terms of technology. A library that takes time and effort to achieve an improvement in service in order to contribute to a better experience for its customers is practicing 2.0 tenets – regardless of whether they are changing signs or implementing the use of blogs. If we don’t acknowledge this, we are in danger of creating a divide between the 2.0s and the 1.0s and making it all the more difficult for libraries to move forward.

This is why I really like David Lee King’s recent post, More Thoughts on Library 2.0. He writes:

I was looking over those Powerpoint slides, and thinking about Library 2.0, when something clicked: in Web 2.0, one does those things – communication, conversation, connecting, and community – via the Web 2.0 tools. That’s what it’s all about. But in the Library 2.0 world… A library might start thinking more about those four concepts because of the new-fangled, emerging Web 2.0 tools. They might think – wow, I can hold cool conversations with patrons that would never happen if we chatted at the circ desk, while roving the floor, or if I have an open door policy. But – these four concepts don’t HAVE to happen ONLINE. These concepts can even happen without electricity, for pete’s sake!

In David’s take, the four concepts of communication, conversation, connecting and community are the important part of Library 2.0. I personally think that changing signs, updating or revising policies and improving customer service can be considered to be 2.0 under many circumstances. I also think that stressing concepts over technology will make Library 2.0 ideals easier to understand and less off putting to those who aren’t overly comfortable with technology. This is how I try to approach changes that I think we need to make at my library.


2 Responses to The Problem with Labels

  1. Iris says:

    Amen, Jennifer. Well said!

  2. Eby says:

    I don’t like the labels at all, though I agree with Alan’s points. I think the goal in the end is customer service and technology is just one way of providing it. My feeling is that the labels probably hinder things and most likely lead many to focus too much on a certain technology or idea. I think that was what Alan was driving at.

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