Making the transition to Librarian 2.0 continued
Posted by andrewey on July 23, 2008
A fourth driver for the transition to Librarian 2.0, that I should have included, is peer pressure. This need not be a negative factor (ie feeling obliged to adopt new technologies simply because others are) but instead it is more often the case that we benefit from the experience of colleagues in other institutions in their experimentation with new technology.
For example, it is noticeable that four Welsh colleges library services (out of 25) have blogs and that three of these were set up within a short space of time of each other this academic year. Although this is a small number it would appear to be (at least in percentage terms) much higher than the adoption of blogs in English colleges. Also in Wales, the JISC RSC also has a blog – primarily as a source of information for FE colleges and again this was seen as a model of good practice for college library services to follow.
The main constraint on the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies (and staff transition to Librarian 2.0) is not, unlike most new technology, cost as most Web 2.0 applications are free. The main barrier is perceived to be the impact on staff time (see the debate on David Lee King’s blog). I would agree that in reality this is something of a misnomer as most of the uses of web 2.0 technologies do replace existing activities eg marketing, creating subject guides, selective dissemination of information (SDI) services etc.
Furthermore, other trends in the library sector will, or have, reduced the time spent on traditional activities eg cataloguing replaced by downloading records, counter duties replaced by RFID or other self-circulation technology, EDI reducing the time spent ordering material and shelf ready stock reducing processing time.
The first step is therefore to integrate the use of web 2.0 technologies into existing duties (where appropriate) to replace/complement existing activities. This could entail minor activities such as encouraging all staff to add useful websites they come across to the relevant Del.icio.us account.
Secondly, develop new ways of supporting our users using web 2.0 technologies (utilising the time savings inherent in other new library developments, highlighted above). This second step may take some time to reach, particularly for FE library services where staffing levels tend to be much lower than in HE. A third step would be the creation of a developmental (or explicit Librarian 2.0) role to fully utilise the benefits of web 2.0 technolgies. I think we can assume that the third step is highly unlikely in an FE library service, however, there is no reason why any library service should not be looking at the possible benefits to the service of engaging in step one. By (all) staff engaging in this first step the transition to Library 2.0 (and Librarian 2.0) will be well under way.