Apr 192007

I think Library 2.0 is used to describe two concepts. One is applying Web2.0 at your library. The other is the flexible, nimble, evolving, user-centred library, kickstarted by Web2.0 concepts and attitudes. One day the second will have its own name.


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Janus Uploaded on August 11, 2005 by Marvin (PA)

Laura Cohen has been thinking about whether Library2.0 is just a derivative of Web2.0 and that’s all there is to it, The best part of Library 2.0. She disagrees, but believes that many people see it as no more than this. She would like to extend it further and add “timeless adaptability” into the mix. Within her definition

libraries evolve wisely and nimbly to meet users’ evolving needs as their information culture shapes these needs.

To me, there are two concepts called “Library 2.0” – at the moment more or less covering the same libraries doing the same thing, but which will diverge at some point. The second concept will one day need its own name. I have buzzword fatigue and I’m happy to call it Library2.0 for now, but only for now. To differentiate it here, I’m calling it Library2.0+, but I think it deserves something that will date it less and is friendlier.

CONCEPT 1 – Library2.0 – Web2.0 in your Library

The first concept Library 2.0 definitely involves the elements taken from Web 2.0 and the attitudes and expectations it brings – but not all of the time and not in every institution if it doesn’t fit their community.

  • 24/7 access
  • Social networking
  • Read/write web
  • The ‘net not a single PC as a workspace
  • User controlled tagging
  • Collaborative creation
  • “Humanized” institution where you can hear the voices of real people inside it
  • Focussing on the needs of the user, not what suits the organisation best
  • Mashing up and value adding on top of available software
  • Focuses on open source, not propietary software
  • Profiles, ratings, reviews, chat, “friending”
  • Perpetual beta
  • Tools like RSS, wikis, blogs, forums, photo sharing, SMS
  • Access via many devices – mobile, handheld,desktop,telephony

So, one version of Library 2.0 is “Web2.0 in a library”.

CONCEPT 2 – Library2.0+ – Flexible, nimble, evolving, user-centred libraries

The second concept involves some of what we have always done, and some rethinking. Web2.0 is a catalyst, but not the only element of this.

For years, libraries have worked in a collaborative, user focussed way, implementing high usability standards – we are already Library2.0+ in some ways.

Some of Library2.0+ is tossing out a few of our traditional core functions because they have been replaced (eg. google and reference work..not quite!!) or sharing our core functions (eg. google scholar). We are putting centre stage previously unnoticed functions. The academic library as study hall and social space is an example of this. This fits in with Laura’s idea of “timeless adaptability”.

Ideas like “going where your users are” have been sparked by Web2.0 which created forums and spaces where it’s possible to interact online instead of waiting for our users to come to us. Library 2.0+ extends “going where the users are” beyond our PCs – like Ryan’s suggestion in his Top Ten Zero-tech Library 2.0 “no brainers” for Public Libraries that we volunteer in the community.

Web 2.0 brings us the informal voice of blogs and web site architecture focusing on the users’ needs. Library2.0+, sparked by this change, is applying it elsewhere and takes it further. We are changing signage, re-writing paper forms, rearranging our collections, reconsidering our overdue policies and even how we talk to our users.

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  6 Responses to “What is Library2.0 and Library2.0+ ?”

  1. I have a presentation in Newfoundland next month that discusses this a little bit as well, I’m calling it “Library 2.0 is the answer! Now what was the question again?”

    I think the first library 2.0 concept requires a bit more than “applying Web 2.0 in the library” because as a principle, web 2.0 techs require a non-traditional mode of thinking to be successful. As I have learned with my “Maven Studies” project, installing a wiki is the easy part. It’s the actively seeking participation, easing up on professional standards and “smarts” a little in favor of the “wisdom of the crowd” (great book by the way) and that sort of stuff that will/would/should create a more user-centered experience in libraries.

    You can still have a MySpace page and be library 1.0. (I envision a page with a whole lot of moderation, logins and “advanced search” options. 🙂 ).

    I think I agree, though, that my “zero tech” ideas were maybe taking this integration of “library 2.0” and “community mindedness” a bit too far. That said, I think there are enough parallels between the two to forgive the occasional transgression as it happens.

    Jessamyn West and I had a discussion sort of around these concepts at CIL, that I will definitely blog a bit on later. Basically, I am interested in where we can go with the Slow Library movement, which may also be called Library 2.0+ in the future. Who knows?

    What I do understand is that libraries do need to get “out there” more and we are more able to do this with the rise of both Web 2.0 techs and some of the more interesting community development techniques that are being applied in the world (“Open Space” “World Cafe” “Appreciative Inquiry” and etc.).

  2. You’re right about the first L2 not just being about the techs involved, but the attitudes as well.

    Library2.0+ develops these attitudes further and applies them wider. You can have them without any Web2.0 tech. I’d put the world of unconferences and the community development techniques you mentioned in this zone. Associated with Web2.0, but not dependent on it.

    My uni was founded in the 70’s as an alternative, participative institution, way before Web2.0 was born. A lot of residual attitudes from this period, that seem to be making a comeback, slot right into Library2.0+.

    Re: the Maven Studies wiki – accidentally deleting other people’s entries just after it went up isn’t very L2 or L2+. Admitting to it and apologising – now THAT was L2+. 😉

  3. Kathryn, I will be in NewZealand in a week, doing a presentation on this same topic. You have ‘covered off’ all the key ideas, particularly in the way you have crafted the two concepts of L2 and L2+. I agree with you that we can’t describe much of what is happening other than calling it L2, even though that type of terminology will disappear. Many of the social networking tools are still developing! There’s starting to be some interesting discussion around all this now – which is great. I do think we have some serious work to do with taxonomy and folksonomy – so that needs to be added in some depth to our conversations. But overall, we are relaxed about Web 2.0 and Library 2.0, and can now just get on with developing it all 🙂

  4. Hi Jude. I guess in these days of folksomy and user centred tagging, Library2.0+ will be called many things by many different users..and that’s how it should be 🙂

    I think people who are just coming to the conversation now possibly think that the Library2.0 shorthand has a much more limited application than those of us who have been folowing the broader discussion for a while. I’d hate for them to dismiss or not see all the other wonderful things we are trying to do under the Library2.0 banner – things that have little to do with web sites at all.

    Enjoy New Zealand. Clarify the unclarifiable and wow ’em. Are the same conversations happening around the term “School2.0” – or does that not exist yet?

  5. […] What is Library2.0 and  Library 2.0+? – posted on April 19, 2007. […]

  6. […] I’ve tried to define it a couple of times here (Library 2.0 on under $5 a day) and here (What is library 2.0 and Library 2.0 plus? ). If you want to read more about it, Jennifer Macaulay’s excellent Library 2.0 Roundup – […]

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