Library 2.0 – the ‘Social Library’

“To continue to be vital to society, libraries must adopt new objectives.  In particular, they must strive to participate with individuals in their cultural activites; passive, depersonalised service is no longer enough.”  Frederick Kilgour, ‘Evolving, Computerising, Personalising,’  in American Libraries, Feb 1972.

What is Library 2.0?  The term Library 2.0 is generally attributed to Michael Casey who first sought to define the concept in his Library Crunch blog in 2005 – in reality it grew out of much discussion that was being held by librarians at the time around the Web 2.0 movement.  Simply put, Library 2.0 is the term used to describe how Web 2.0 technologies are applied to web-based library services and collections.

This interesting meme (rhymes with gene) created by Bonaria Biancu in 2006 gives us a visual representation of what the Library 2.0 concept is about:

Bonaria Biancu Library 2.0 meme map, 2006

As you can see, Library 2.0 is not just about using technologies but it also seeks to follow the underlying principles of Web 2.0 – or the 4Cs, which are collaboration, conversation, community and co-creation.  A fifth C has also recently emerged, ‘crowdsourcing’ – this broadly describes a process whereby an organisation calls for feedback from its users (the crowd) to gain insight and solve ‘problems’ – thereby creating a sense of ownership for its users through their contribution and collaboration.

Meredith Farkas, in her blog ‘Information wants to be free’ gives us the following key advice to get to the heart of what to be aware of when we seek to implement Library 2.0:

  1. Work to meet changing user needs – get to know your users and non-users by developing a culture of assessment to challenge your assumptions about how and what your services and systems should be.
  2. Believe in your users – trust what your users say and listen to what it is they want by giving them a role in helping to define your library services.
  3. Be willing to experiment – learn from what isn’t or doesn’t work to continuously improve your services based on the feedback that you receive.
  4. Be aware of emerging technologies and trends – look for partnerships in your community or with other libraries and give your staff time to try out new technologies and learn.
  5. Look outside the library world for applications, opportunities and inspiration – understand the culture of technologies, how they are used and implemented in other institutions.

Much like Farkas, I have never really liked the term Library 2.0 and prefer to use the term ‘Social Library’ which perhaps better describes the library from the patrons’ point of view and certainly is a reflection on where most libraries are heading in terms of their services.  

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