Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled its Promise?

Title of conference program: The Ultimate Debate: Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled its Promise?
Speakers: Meredith Farkas, Cindi Trainor, David Lee King, Michael Porter; moderated by Roy Tennant.
Monday July 13, 2009; 1:30 – 3 pm; McCormick Place West, W-181
Sponsor: Internet Resources and Services Interest Group (IRSIG)

This program was presented as a debate, with Roy posing questions for the panel.

The room for this presentation was huge, and the room was packed with librarians!  We were seated shoulder to shoulder, with nary an open chair in the room.

Roy’s first question was “What does Library 2.0 mean to you?”  Here are the panelists’ responses:

Cindi:

  • it’s not only a set of tools, but also a philosophy
  • helps create space that welcome participation by users

Michael:

  • it’s what libraries do to fulfill our roles as community and information anchors
  • it’s a plethora of tools that can help libraries become more relevant

Meredith:

  • it’s about being user-focused
  • seeing the creation of library services as an iterative process
  • constantly assessing services to make sure they meet the needs of our customers

David:

  • not just new tools, but also…
  • a new philosophy, a new way to do things

Michael:

  • let’s not focus on brands (like Twitter or wikis), lets focus on what these tools can do for us
  • Michael read some of the tweets he received as replies to his tweet http://twitter.com/libraryman/status/2617070771

Second question: what is a Library 2.0 technology?

Meredith:

  • technology that allows us to build communities and communicate with each other
  • technology that allows us to form relationships with people who are bits and bytes online

David:

  • a way to move content from one place to another, like RSS
  • “made to connect me to you”
  • “if the technology works, it doesn’t get in the way”

Michael:

  • a problem with 2.0 technology is “it’s hard to know what to use”
  • it’s hard to track the success of your institution’s success with 2.0 tools, in the report formats libraries typically have to submit
  • Michael is working to put together something to help libraries track the success of their use of 2.0 tools

David:

  • stated we have stats from blogs, and can see the number of Facebook friends/fans
  • some of these tools will track stats, show engagement — but these tools cost money; he mentioned Radian6 as one of these for-fee tools

Cindi:

  • how can you track engagement, how can you track the impact your library has on a person’s life?

Meredith:

  • it’s important to look at how to do an assessment of 2.0 tool usage at your library

Michael:

  • reports to supervisors are primarily numbers; anecdotal evidence and emotional impact is difficult to report

Third question: what are some of the barriers you to see to libraries adopting some of these Library 2.0 tools?

Meredith:

  • “we’re entrusting our knowledge our hard work to 3rd party sites that might not be there in the future”
  • companies that exist now, might not in the future
  • she cited ma.gnolia as an example of a social bookmarking service that’s no longer in existence
  • libraries aren’t planning for how they can have backup copies of their stuff
  • they need to ask if the company is stable, and if their info will still be there a couple of years from now

Cindi:

  • don’t be afraid to experiment, but take a risk-management approach

David:

  • it’s very easy to set up a free blog, but the bigger barrier is you need to immerse yourself in a tool to learn it
  • having a person in charge of a 2.0 tool, but when that person leaves, what to do about the orphaned blog or wiki that’s left behind

Michael:

  • concerned that libraries are being usurped by commercial companies
  • libraries don’t have the money to compete with content and delivery suppliers like NetFlix
  • the relevance of libraries is at risk
  • as an industry, we need to do something to not get cut out of the market share

Meredith:

  • time is a challenge — we’re being asked to do new stuff, but none of our other tasks have been taken away
  • just because they’re free tools doesn’t mean we don’t need to plan for them

Michael:

  • “use these tools to show how awesome you are” and share that with your community

Meredith:

  • admins should be gviing staff time to staff to do these things at work, not on your own personal time

Fourth question: Can we point to some successes of 2.0 technologies and principles?

Michael:

Meredith:

  • Chad Boeninger of Ohio University
  • Business Blog and Biz Wiki
  • when he knows an assignment is coming up, he puts the info up on his blog
  • a photo of his face is all over his blog and wiki, so students recognize him and know they can apporoach him
  • Skokie PL’s SkokieNet: a community-driven online portal for people who live in and care about Skokie

Roy:

Cindi:

  • pockets of innovation within a library are using Flickr, wikis, etc.

David:

  • encouraged supervisors to “let your staff go with it”

Meredith:

  • “these technogies are not a magic wand”
  • avoid technolust; stick with the tools that will give your customers what they need

Michael:

  • if you stick with your mssion and role in your community, you can use 2.0 tools to support it

Cindi:

  • it’s important to have awareness of the tools so when a need arises, you have a 2.0 tool that can fit a situation