Andrew Eynon’s Library Blog

A blog about librarianship in Further Education

Posts Tagged ‘Meredith Farkas’

Book review of Meredith Farkas’ Social software in libraries

Posted by andrewey on August 11, 2008

As well as reviewing online sources I’m also going to post book reviews on titles relating to Library 2.0.

Given that I’ve already mentioned the work of Meredith Farkas I thought I would start with her book, Social software in libraries. The book is not about the theory of Library 2.0 but instead offers practical (not just technical) advice on the use of Web 2.0 technologies, with a good range of real world examples. Only in the discussion of libraries as the ‘third place’ (ie as a possible social space away from home and work) does the work touch on definitions of Library 2.0.

The book does however provide an excellent overview of Web 2.0 technologies and explains clearly how these tools can be used in a library context. Despite Meredith’s background as an academic librarian the book contains examples drawn from a variety of sectors (although of course the examples are from North America). More importantly there is a Social software in libraries website to support the book with further case studies.

The book is very readable and offers a concise explanation of the technologies in a style easily accessible to a non-technical audience. The book contains 320 pages divided into 16 chapters – usually with a single chapter devoted to each specific Web 2.0 technology (except for blogs which get two chapters owing to their prevalence). There are chapters on Mobile technology, video gaming and screencasts (a Web 2.0 tool I’m currently testing), as well as chapters on standard Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, social networks etc.

I would highly recommend this title, it is a shame that the cover price of $39.50 is not reflected in the price of the book in the UK (which is usually around £39.50).

Other titles I intend to review are:

Please recommend (or review) any good titles on Library 2.0 or Web 2.0 using the comments facility.

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Building FE Library 2.0

Posted by andrewey on August 7, 2008

In an earlier post I said I would return to the points raised in Meredith Farkas’ presentation Building Academic Library 2.0 to discuss the issues involved in implementing Library 2.0 and applying these to a FE context. So what does Meredith suggest implementing Library 2.0 entails (which she does from the perspective of service delivery rather than from a purely technical angle)?

1 Firstly, you need to know your users. This is particularly difficult in FE where our learners are so varied both in terms of educational needs (from adults with learning difficulties through to postgraduates) and in terms of demographics. To do this Meredith says you need to ask your users what they value rather than what you value ie to avoid reverting to the ‘librarian knows best’ stereotype of Library 1.0.

2 You need to question everything ie in terms of re-examining the tenets of library work. I think there is a need to re-evaluate our priorities (as an FE library service) to move away from traditional concerns to recognising the challenges of making our services better suited to supporting the needs of learners and to embracing new technologies as a way of better engaging with our users.

3 Make material more accessible. As Meredith points out, this does not have to be a technological solution. In north Wales we have an interlending scheme LINC y Gogledd which currently links 5 local authority public library services, two FE colleges and Bangor University. This scheme enables personal borrowing, ie our learners can borrow directly from the university, as well as inter library loans. You are able to search the catalogues of 6 of the library services from a single URL. With the development of CatCymru you will soon be able to search all the library catalogues in Wales using a single (federated) search engine.

4 Move the library ‘website’ to spaces where our users are eg Facebook or other social networks. The rise of library blogs, wikis and pages on social networking sites etc suggests this is well under way in some library sectors although not very well advanced in FE I suspect. In FE our main priority is probably to ensure a high profile for the library service on the college’s VLE and website.

5 We need to consider the technology have nots – an important issue in FE where many learners may not have access to a PC at home. Again there is scope to work with public libraries here to promote their free internet access to encourage greater social inclusion. In addition, technology should not be used for its own sake – we need to consider what advantages Web 2.0 tools offer over conventional forms of delivering/supporting our service.

6 Build a learning culture amongst all library staff. This is particularly important when implementing web 2.0 tools so provide all staff with hands on experience of using these tools (as with our library Web Quest) and give them permission and time to try out new technologies.

7 Share information. As Meredith highlights, we are not, in the main, subject experts so make use of the expertise of teaching staff (and learners) in collaborative exercises, for which Web 2.0 tools are ideally suited, such as creating subject blogs or wikis.

8 Finally, good ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. The challenge is to create mechanisms to capture them – which is an area of the use of Web 2.0 technologies I intend to investigate as part of our Inspiring Learning project. The corollary of this challenge, as Meredith highlights, is the ability to be responsive and innovative. Here FE may be at an advantage, because we are probably more used to a culture of (rapid) change than some other library sectors. Certainly FE library services seem to have more autonomy to implement change quickly, compared to the more rigid structures prevalent in other library sectors.

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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.

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