PLA: The Cutting Edge: The Latest Info on Web 2.0

Speakers: Jen Maney, Virtual Library Manager, Pima County Public Library; Michael Stephens, Instructor, Graduate School of Library & Information Science at Dominican University, and John Blyberg, Head, Technology & Digital Initiatives, Darien Library, CT.

Jen Maney started out with the “required” definition of Web 2.0, using Webopedia.

She then encouraged us all to remember, that “It’s Your library… so think about it: which tools will help you reach your library’s goals and how do we get to become part of the lives of the individuals who come to our library!” [This theme of becoming a part of the customers’ life was repeated throughout their program and is a big step for all the Web 2.0 gurus… everyone is starting to “make meaning” of all the technology!”

Experiment! This was another key word… and if you’re not comfortable experimenting with the Web 2.0 technologies?… “get over it!” 2.0 technologies are NOT going away. It’s just like Current Events… they just keep on coming.

At her system, they are desiging for “uncertainty” because things are changing faster than anyone can keep up. Our job is to “watch for trends,” “try something and if it works, great, if not, then stop doing it,” and remember, “there’s no pressure to be ‘right,’ there’s only change!”

PLAY! Technologies cannot be understood by talking about them… it’s important to touch them and try them.

Some examples from her system was a contest they ran with teens who were asked to create “trailers” like the movies… but for books! (very cool idea!)

It’s all about making it relevant to the customers (and to ourselves). But remember, we can’t do it all.

Some primary spaces where all libraries should have a presence: Facebook, FlickR, LibraryThing, MySpace & YouTube.

We should begin asking, whenever we plan an event, would any kind of web-based participation enhance the program or event? For instance, if an author visits, wouldn’t it be great to have a Q & A afterward as a podcast? Even something as simple as a comprehensive list of RSS feeds can direct specific information to the public.

Michael Stephens comments.

The evolving web is open and social. Is you library on Wikipedia? (The answer is yes, but it’s out of date. Gotta fix that!!!)

There are lots of new sites that are aggregating content together to make things easier. One of them is called PageFlakes. We need to move ahead and all libraries should be doing IM by now … and the aggregator for that is Meebo. An example of Meebo being used by a library is the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (right on the home page!)

The library needs to appear “transparent” and speak with a human voice (not vendor speak). And like Jen, repeats that the it’s important to say, “yes” to play and experimentation, particularly with one’s surroundings. “Throw out the culture of perfect!” He gave general examples of libraries worth viewing that have tried a variety of 2.0 technologies: Brooklyn Public Library, Darien Library, and Hennepin Copunty Public Library.

Ideas that have worked in other libraries: Storypalooza, interview the director, flickR profiles of the library, send in a photo of yourself reading, video tours, teen avatars – guess who we are.

Think of the library website as a sandbox! How does your library feel? What is the coolest library you have every visited in person and why? (His is Salt Lake City Public Library.) Think of “library as place.” Is there a way to translate the physical appeal to the web?

Stephens believes that staff need to “bring your hearts to work.” (See 2cents blog… not sure which link is the correct one on this… may need to do some extra looking.)

We are in the age of “continuous computing!” Also, consider, we need more “evidence based librarianship.”

More examples? See Moraine Valley Community College Virtual Tours.

Stephens final quote: “Learn to Learn, Adapt to Change, Scan the Horizon.”

John Blyberg’s comments.

Blyberg tried a different take on things by “responding” point by point to the case being made against web 2.0 by Andrew Keen who wrote Cult of the Amateur. Some of Keen’s observations include: “bad” stuff will be published if we allow “just anyone” to publish content, many people don’t have “good taste” and should be monitored, big media (aka Hollywood) is better at creating movies, an author may be taken seriously and actually “influence” others, the web 2.0 lexicon is problematic, and artists are too opinionated. I think this list is enough alone and not worth additional comments. Blyberg and most Web 2.0 adherents think Keen is way off base. So do I.

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