28 June, 2009

D*P*C #3 Library 2.0 - what it means to me

My review of Michael Casey and Laura Savastinuk's article, Library 2.0: Service for the next–generation library encompasses what library 2.0 meant to me last year. This year I am learning more, exploring more, so my idea of library 2.0 is still in development. It's not all about technology, but about engagement with clients, interaction, communication flows and providing a new service model.

Casey and Savastinuk’s article contains some key phrases that provide clear goals for Web 2.0 technology application in libraries. They present Library 2.0 as ‘service for the next-generation library’, ‘the new model for library service’ and as embracing ‘user-centred change’ (Casey and Savastinuk, 2006, p.1). The Library 2.0 model embraces users participating in and driving change. Web 2.0 developments have allowed the rapid creation and uptake of collaborative library services, including virtual reference (Ask-a-Librarian), versatile OPAC interfaces and bookclub blogs.

The authors are clearly well-versed in Web 2.0 technologies and Library 2.0 services, reporting their findings for the professional Library Journal audience, with many avenues for further investigation. Citations are used throughout the article to illustrate points made, while three key readings and seven blog links are supplied on the final page, along with fourteen links to Web 2.0 tools.

Of particular interest is the authors’ observation that libraries have generally focused their services on known clients because of the perception of library as physical space, as well as the constraints of funding and that physical space. Library 2.0 allows a widening of this focus to include virtual clients and not-yet clients. A combination of physical and virtual services will reach more people in the community, thus strengthening the client base and viability. Such services may include online request and home delivery of books, online database access (through State and public libraries) and library blogs. Libraries themselves rely on ‘high levels of user participation to expand the value of the product’ (Casey & Savastinuk, 2006, p.2). Libraries must then work with Web 2.0 tools to meet and extend client information needs, beginning with participation in a 23 Things program.

As clients (virtual and physical) assume a greater participatory role in library services, with Library 2.0 they are able to tailor services to best meet their needs. The authors note that to achieve this standard, librarians must routinely elicit client feedback, to ‘harness our customer’s knowledge to supplement and improve library services’ (Casey & Savastinuk, 2006, p.2). Spencer and Hughan (2008, p. 13) reinforce collaboration as they found 'the evidence base needs to be developed' because the development of podcasts in libraries appeared to have been 'based largely on assumptions', with little evidence gathered on users' evaluation of the service. Amery (2008) notes on forum, however, the changes made to Charles Sturt University libraries after consultation with clients through online surveys, including increasing hours for the 1800 help desk.

In a surprising twist for libraries struggling with limited budgets and IT staff, the delivery and utilisation of Web 2.0 technologies for the Library 2.0 model can be relatively inexpensive. Many libraries have embraced free sites like flickr, PBWiki and Google Maps on their websites to value add to their service. As more clients push the boundaries of the physical library, librarians must reconsider 'what works best in meeting new challenges in a changing... world' (Harris, 2006, p.53). Harris terms this the 'digitally reshifted ... library' (2006, p. 52).

This article successfully emphasises the key elements of a Library 2.0 model; a physical or virtual service ‘that successfully reaches users, is evaluated frequently, and makes use of customer input’. Client engagement with all aspects from feedback to data contribution (blog comments, catalogue reviews, flickr photographic images, database information, etc.) will confine the old image of library-as-physical-space to the archives and ensure the further growth of Library 2.0. Balling, Henrichsen and Skourig (2007, p. 63) suggest that the physical library desk 'has interfered with the dialogue'. They state (p. 62) that 'there is no desk on the web'.

As the authors conclude, ‘through collaboration with staff and users, (each library) will be able to develop a clear idea of how this model will work for (their) organisation’ (Casey & Savastinuk, 2006, p.5).

Amery, K. (2008, 26 August). Why should I bother with the library survey? Does anything change? Message posted to CSU General Forum, archived online.

Balling, G., Henrichsen, L.A. & Skourig, L. (2007). Digital reading groups. New Library World. 109(1/2), 56-64. Retrieved 20 August, 2008 from Emerald Xtra database.

Casey, Michael E. & Savastinuk, Laura C. (2006, September). Library 2.0: Service for the next–generation library. Library Journal. Retrieved 27 June, 2008 from Library Journal website:

Harris, C. (2006). School library 2.0: Say good-bye to your mother's school library. School Library Journal. 52(5), 50-54. Retrieved 20 August, 2008 from EbscoHost database.

Spencer, A. & Hughan, C. (2008). Podcasting: A fad with a future? Proceedings of the Beyond the Hype: Web 2.0 symposium, Australian Library and Information Association, Brisbane, Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, 1-2 February, 2008. Retrieved 26 August, 2008, from Australian Library and Information Association website:

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