Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thing #2 - Web 2.0

Here are some questions and my answers (in no particular order) that I had reactions to on this topic...

What do I want to get out of 23 things? Definitely a structured chance to try some new things just so I know how they work. I have experimented with a few of the things on the list already (mostly at the behest of younger relatives), but I know I wouldn't take the time to just play around with them as part of my busy day simply to see how they work. It would be great to have some background with some of them before I NEED to use them.

Is Web 2.0 bringing a revolutionary change in the way libraries function or simply an adaptation to new technology? After reading/viewing the links on the 23 Things site, I'm inclined to side with those who say the latter (at least from the public library standpoint). Public libraries have for many years responded to patrons using technology as appropriate. And, though this may brand me as a Luddite, "new" isn't always more efficient; there have been many times when I've challenged another staff member to accurately answer a ready reference type question with the Internet while I use a book. If you know which book, the print almost always wins ... few ready reference questions can be answered without going through several computer screens or your bookmarks. The challenge is not just keeping up with new technology, it's knowing which technology is appropriate to a particular patron or situation.

How much emphasis should libraries put on new technology? It depends on the situation. One of the articles mentioned that circulation was declining steadily at that library; I can see where they want to find new ways to connect with patrons. I'm in a different situation; our circulation is steadily increasing ... both books and media. Do I want to reach more people? Yes. Can I afford (both tax dollars and staff time) to push beyond the current core user group? I don't know. I do know that I don't want to put the library into a situation where we are extending new services at the cost of sustaining the old ones that are still very popular. There are many, many people who simply want to use their library as a source for the latest reading material. The phrase "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" comes to mind. Public libraries are just that -- public -- most of our operating revenue comes from tax money. I think individual libraries need to make decisions on how much technology will be used by their patron base rather than simply what's new.

What does moving toward Library 2.0 mean? Definitely more resource sharing among libraries, especially different types of libraries. I think that as a library community, we need to look at efficiencies as well as the technologies to keep costs down.

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