I finally got around to reading Michael Casey and Laura Savastinuk’s Library 2.0 article in the latest issue of Library Journal. The article offers a great overview of Library 2.0 – it’s tenets, major concepts, a great definition and some excellent suggestions to move towards library 2.0. I think it is a must read.
In a post about her reaction to the article, Nicole Engard at What I Learned Today ponders how involved her patrons would want to be in transforming library services. Nicole writes “While you all know I’m supporter of Library 2.0 & new technologies in libraries – I sometimes wonder if our audience (lawyers) will ever want to participate in the creation of “both the physical and the virtual services” in the library.” This is a valuable point to consider in thinking about library 2.0 in any library – particularly special libraries and academic libraries. College students are often uninterested in participating in user groups, focus groups, taking surveys or offering constructive thoughts. They are much more likely to tell you what they do not like. As such, they are not necessarily thinking about how the library can serve them better – just about what doesn’t work for them. This presents an interesting challenge. Implementing new services just to get a reaction one way or the other isn’t a great way to make changes – actually, it is an awful way.
David Rothman, from davidrothman.net, suggests that medical libraries face the same type of questions. David writes that “I have come to believe that even the most technophobic clinicians served by my library will use new services if (1) they are easy to use and (2) it can be demonstrated to clinicians that the use of such services can save time, money, hassle, or professional mistakes.” I think that David is right. The problem (for me) is – how do we determine which new services our patrons will find easy to use and will help them with their information needs? Obviously patron input is critical. However, this isn’t always easy to get.
I think that before we can make these determinations about library services, all library staff need to be heavily involved in brainstorming about issues and problems that exist and ways that the library can work to resolve the problems. Ultimately, if there is not across-the-board buy in to the concepts of library 2.0, no library can possibly move forward to transform itself. This is really where I find myself presently. I don’t have patrons rallying for new services – they appear (through surveys, etc) to be content with what we offer. As such, library staff don’t see any particular need to try new services. Without patrons demanding some of these new library 2.0 services or engaged library staff, it is difficult to justify them to the administration. So, in the meantime, I keep watching all of the exciting things that are happening and making small changes one at a time.