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An Introduction to Web 2.0 & Library 2.0

Web 2.0: a second generation of web-based communities and hosted services — such as social-networking sites, wikis and folksonomies — which aim to facilitate collaboration and sharing between users ("Web 2.0" from Wikipedia).

Library 2.0: the application of interactive, collaborative, and multi-media web-based technologies to web-based library services and collections (Maness, 8).

A new paradigm has emerged for librarianship involving the evolution of Web 2.0, and its implications are far-reaching. Web 2.0 describes the changing Web, and while there is no clear line of distinction between the first websites and those of Web 2.0, it can be most clearly defined as containing certain technologies conducive to fostering communication, being both user-centered and user-driven. For libraries, websites of Web 2.0 will serve by enabling greater access to and increasing utilization of information across society.The change from ordinary websites into Web 2.0 describes a trend of website models containing multi-sensory communications, which makes the website conducive to the purpose of Web 2.0, which is allowing users to create as well as consume content simultaneously. Library websites of Web 2.0 are constantly evolving by adding new applications such as a blog or wiki, which is a new innovative way for organizing, provoking discussions and thoughts from a variety of viewpoints.

Still confused about Web 2.0? View this tutorial: Professorial Intro to Web 2.0:

Why is Web 2.0 so important for librarians?

Statistics reveal that a full 44% of adults are internet users in America, meaning they have actively participated online (Miller, 2005). A whopping 87% of teens up to the age of 18 are online, translating into a growing population of soon-to-be adults using the internet by active participation (Miller, 2005). According to PEW, more than half of all teens using internet have been content creators (Alexandra-Macgill, 2007). Majority of these users are already familiar with certain Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networking websites. Not only is this a growing market for libraries to tap into, but also a market for reaching potentially millions of patrons who may not have physically stepped into their libraries.

What should librarians do? Librarians need to think outside of the box and beyond their libraries' physical location and move towards Library 2.0. There are four essential elements for Library 2.0 (Chaness, 3). The first element is that it is user-centered. Both, librarians and the user, must work together in developing content such as allowing users to participate in creating or changing the web services that the library provides such as a web interface to the library's website or allowing the patrons to tag the library's OPAC.  The second element of Library 2.0 is that it must contain a rich multi-media experience by having audile and visual components. A great example would be using a book trailer video to book talk the patrons directly. The book trailer will set the tone of the book by its audio and visual presentation. The third element of Library 2.0 is social richness. The library should provide both synchronous (Virtual Reference by IM services) as well as asynchronous (i.e. wikis, blogs) ways for users to communicate with one another as well as with the librarian. The fourth and final element of Library 2.0 is to be communally innovated. Libraries need to accept that they must be able to change, but most importantly allow the users to change it.

What's a Librarian 2.0? Librarian 2.0 is a person who acts as an advisor and supporter of change. Although he or she may not be activitely involved with the change.  One of the major features with moving forward with technology is the loss of the librarian's role. In fact, librarians aren't losing their jobs but are more demanded! Librarians will need to educate patrons on how to use these technologies.  View the clip below of one librarian's manifesto of how to adapt to Web 2.0.

Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto:

What's the point?

"Library 2.0 is not about searching, but finding; not about access, but sharing. Library 2.0 recognizes that human beings do not seek and utilize information as individuals, but as communities" (Chaness, 9). Now that we've understood the theory behind Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 let's look at some concrete examples:

At MyOwnCafe, this interactive library website of the Southeastern Massachusetts Library System (SEMLS) beckons users to explore and get involved. This site is specifically targeting the younger crowd with the latest links to entertainment, news, and resources. Overall, it is inviting and easy to navigate. http://www.myowncafe.org

The Seattle Public Library website is an excellent example of a very interactive website that still makes sense. The site is visually appealing, allowing for rests between the sections. The catalog search is located right up front, as is the News section. A blog for teens entitled Push to Talk is in a section under quick links. http://www.spl.lib.wa.us/

The British Library Online is an interactive site using shockwave to simulate turning the pages as patrons browse through a book. An online gallery provides directions to upcoming events, podcasts to download, etc. Just a great is site for browsing, interactive and fun. http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/ttp/ttpbooks.html

The Ann Arbor District Library site includes a service blog, media mentions, a research blog, local news and event, and much, much more. Of particular interest is the PictureAnnArbor, where guests contribute digital photographs of the city. Lots of interaction and a great layout. http://www.aadl.org/

To explore more on creating great websites using Web 2.0, check out the following sites:

While there are numerous sites available for help, Library Web Chic is another usable resource for librarians as it explains the application of interactive web design and provides instructional tools for incorporating the latest technologies. It allows for librarians to ask questions and provides categories to find information on blogging, etc. http://librarywebchic.net/wordpress/

Now that we have these technologies where users are creating and sharing resources, what does the librarian do now? With users amending and changing wikis, they are not as reliable as traditional resources. Librarians will need to be vigilant in screening what to include or allow as being a source of reliable or authoritative information.

Rapid change brings with it a number of complications, such as in the area of collection development. Resources are becoming global and open, making it even more difficult to identify a reliable source.  As we move forward in an environment of global sharing, are we aware of the implications of sharing all this personal information? Blogs and MySpace have the opposite relationship to privacy, and wise decision making is a must. Are teens prepared for this? Is it progress of society? Well, yes, but information that is to share must be worthwhile for the user. This website hopes to dispel the mystery surrounding virtual reference, blogs, wikis, and social networking for librarians. We will point you in the right direction to get more valuable resources on the technologies and maybe even persuade you to use these technologies in your own library! 

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