Academic Library 2.0
Posted by andrewey on July 11, 2008
Of course when people talk of Academic Library 2.0 they are really talking about HE libraries – so to what extent are the features of Academic Library 2.0 common to FE?
I’m going to use the features of Academic Library 2.0 as defined in Building Academic Library 2.0 – a presentation by Meredith Farkas to a gathering of university librarians in the States (Meredith’s presentation starts 13 mins into the clip if you want to skip the intros) – to discuss its relevance to FE.
Meredith defines the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 as being the switch from accessing/consuming information on the internet to creating it. What, however, defines the transition from Library 1.0 to Library 2.0?
Meredith disputes the view that this is a switch from a traditional print bound service to a more technologically literate one as she also sees Library 2.0 as being more a philosophy or ‘state of mind’ rather than a technological change (see David Lee King’s website for the opposing print bound to technologically ‘savvy’ library service debate).
I would argue that the difference between Library 1.0 and Library 2.0 is the transition from the ‘librarian knows best’ (or to put it more kindly providing what we think the user wants) to a more participatory service which is user led. There is nothing preventing a ‘traditional’ library service making this transition (and many probably have) but it would appear that Web 2.0 technologies offer far more scope for (immediate) user engagement with and particpation in service delivery than ‘traditional’ methods.
Meredith describes some of the trends which have led to the rise of Library 2.0 as follows:
Technology is easier to use – I would add that coupled with this that many of the Web 2.0 tools are free which is a crucial factor in their adoption by resource poor library services as typified by FE.
Library faces more competition eg from Google – which is simple to use and for many people more convenient
Traditional library facilities/services are on the wane – Meredith even points out that OPAC use is declining whilst most other online resources are showing big increases. I’m not sure how true this is in FE where web OPACS are still very new. Although I have no hard data I’m sure our new web OPAC is far more heavily used than the old one particularly as it allows you to search the holdings of partner institutions.
Meredith quite rightly stresses the ‘state of mind’ aspects of the transition to Library 2.0:
Willingness to meet changing user needs
‘Radical trust’ ie being more open to criticism from our users
Getting rid of the culture perfect ie being more prepared to try out new technologies or initiatives rather than wasting time in the planning stage or waiting for solutions to be perfected.
Willingness to look for best practice in other library sectors and other service industries. In FE I think we do tend to only look to HE libraries for inspiration whereas much of what we do, in terms of widening participation, is more akin to the Reader Development work done in public libraries.
I will return to ‘Building Academic Library 2.0’ in later posts when I will look at practical ways of implementing Library 2.0 and when looking at those issues we need to take into account when planning/delivering Library 2.0.