Library 2.0

I read Michael Stephen’s Into a New World of Librarianship, Dr. Wendy Schultz’s To a temporary place in time…, and Rick Anderson’s Away from the “icebergs.”  All were interesting reads with excellent points.  So what’s my take on “Library 2.0?”

Well, it’s a nice label.  But we may be missing the point.  Over and over, I’ve seen “Library 2.0” discussions devolve to how we can use some new whiz-bang online application.  It seems like getting online and using online tools has become the focus.  Realistically, these things are just tools that do not mean much, especially since they are branded by another organization.  We need to be doing these things ourselves (or at the very least co-branding and assisting with new development).  In fact we need to be doing more than just online and we need to be coming up with tools that no one else has thought of before us!

A few random observations and thoughts on some places we need to be stealing from…

Yahoo Answers – What?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  How did we miss this opportunity?  Why don’t we have “CML Answers” with questions openly posted by people and answers by people who are actually experts at finding information?  You know those people right… librarians?  It sure would be a lot better than “Fred in Nowhereville says…”

Amazon.com – Reviews, wish lists, ratings, look inside, tagging, etc.  Our catalogs, even the coolest ones… well our catalogs suck at best by comparison.  We need to be updating how our catalogs look and making them user interactive (including allowing user content).  We don’t need this tomorrow – we need it now.

Excite.com, Yahoo.com, or any other homepage provider – completely and absolutely user interactive with the ability to choose layouts, choose themes, and choose what information you want to see when you stop by.  So how about the average library’s homepage?  Well, it’s about as interactive as a dead parrot.

Internet Movie Database – See Amazon.com – Do I need to say more?  Ok maybe I do.  IMDB has extra things like movie trailers, images from the film, and discussions.  How cool would it be to be able to watch a trailer for the movie I am thinking about reserving without having to go to an outside source to do that?  Or maybe read a discussion to verify I am interested?

Borders, Starbucks – Coffee, pastries and cookies, mood, socialization, etc.  The library, books, CDs, DVDs, blah, blah, blah – cool for something to pick up, but god awful boring as a place to hang out.  About the coolest thing we do is offer children’s programs (and I’m being serious – we do this one well).  We need more programming (especially for adults), more comfy chairs, more free flowing open buildings that can be configured to meet program needs, and more reason to come here and make these building a part of our customer’s lives (and a priority).

So you get the point I’m driving at here right?  We are talking about “Library 2.0,” but do we get it?  This isn’t something WE need to think too much on or talk about for a long time.  We provide the tools that our customer’s need to create content and enrich our site and our physical spaces.  We provide the tools that will integrate in to their daily lives at home, work, and school.  WE need to do.  Not later, not after we committee it to death, not even next year.  We need to do this right now with all the risk that entails and nothing but guts to open.  Our job is to then sit back and let our customers use those tools in whatever way they want to use them to create the library they want.  When our customers express a new need, we create or find a tool to assist with that also.  Besides that, we need to be aggressively promoting ourselves and our brand constantly in every way possible.  And definitely, we need to update our buildings to encourage a place with real “destination experience” – a place where community wants to form (20/20 is dead on, but what can we do NOW with limited funds?  Partnerships maybe?  Starbucks and the library together at last?). 

Isn’t it about time that someone out there said, “I just wish we could compete with the Library?”  I want to hear that phrase someday.

That’s “Library 2.0” in my mind.

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One Response to “Library 2.0”

  1. i completely agree that libraries should be taking advantage of technologies and successful business models (i.e. cafes & bookstores) that incorporate more opportunities and draw for people to spend quality, comfortable time in. there’s a site called textalibrarian.com promoting library 2.0 with question and answer service just as you said. now i just wish i had a bean bag, a scone and some great natural light to read by. i’d rather spend my money at my local library than my neighborhood starbuckses!

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