On Library 2.0 & Web 2.0 ...

by tosca on Friday, July 25, 2008

Food for thought! Throughout this tutorial I've constantly gotten the impression that as diverse as our services are for customers (fax, printing, photocopying, internet access, laminating, reading programmes, storytimes, holiday programmes, readers' advisory, orientation, database sessions, catalogue sessions etc.) they really are mostly for people who physically visit a branch site. We are not reaching everybody. And a lot of us don't seem to be too concerned about that.

This month, just in general discussion with staff at various branches, there seems to be a general idea that the progression of online library services, at least as far as RSS feeds, blogs and wiki, is something that need not concern us - that we are 'content' to merely reach the customers who visit us in person. I have heard comments that it's too hard, it's all too much, it's not necessary, it shouldn't be compulsory, what's wrong with the old way . . . For professionals who work in an environment of constant change, we are vehemently opposed to it. Yes, bits of this has been hard, and sometimes finding the time can be a challenge and certainly at the start I wondered if it was necessary - but I genuinely enjoy playing online and, much to my surprise, I'm good at it (and damned modest to boot).

My initial response when beginning this tutorial was that I would not (not could not) see how any of these lessons would ultimately benefit Manukau Libraries. I had thought that it was an 'American thing'. My instinctive reaction was to hit the information superhighway and see what libraries have online services, what sort of services they have and WHY they have them. The result was astounding - and it made me see we are being left behind, in the very environment that should be our forte.

I was astounded to learn that: teen bookclub groups sucessfully submit reviews to blogs; customers participate in online adult reading programmes (voluntarily); pathfinders are all stored in the one place for customers to view online; vodcasts and podcasts offer lessons in using our services; National Library (for crying out loud) has RSS feeds!

I'm not saying let's adopt every online technology available - in fact, Michael Stephens states that technolust (or techno-worship) for the sake of coolness and status helps nobody. We should always be asking ourselves, 'Does it meet the users needs in a new or improved way? Does it create a useful service for putting users together with the information and experience they seek?'

Rick Anderson notes that we don't need to throw out our core principles/values in a bid to meet all user needs, but it could be just as disastrous if we don't acknowledge and ADAPT to (radical and fundamental) change in the very marketplace we're trying to serve.

I think I have lost sight of the idea that our services should be accessible to people wherever they are, however they choose to reach us. With teen services, my philosophy was that I should always celebrate whatever our local teens were reading and not make quality judgements about their reading material. Not even via reading programmes. Surely the important part is that they're reading? Yeah, it's a mills and boon novel, but they're READING. And surely if I'M any good at MY job I'll engage them in active discussion and open up a bigger world with a variety of choice. Isn't that what I do? Isn't that what WE do?? Open up bigger worlds with more choice???

Shouldn't that be our philosophy with the progression of online services as well?

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Leave your comment

Kia ora! Have a comment or suggestion to make? Then speak now or forever hold your peace.