Tuesday, December 18, 2007

LIS768 Summary

I agree with what others have already expressed--this course should be one of the fundamentals for any future librarian. I also agree with Michael that its title should be changed to "Emerging Technologies."

Library 2.0, no longer a nascent movement, is still in its evangelist phase. It's spreading the good word, surrounded by a relatively tight-knit, energized collective of academics, students and librarians. It's very good at introducing the uninitiated to emerging technologies but still finding its footing concerning the impacts, both good and bad, such technologies may have in a library setting. It's time for more Library 2.0 introspection. It's time, for example, for more case studies of what's worked and why. It's time for case studies of what hasn't worked and why. I wonder, for example, how the Library 2.0 movement might fruitfully draw from the field of Community Informatics, another relatively new discipline equally interested in community based information and communication technologies.

That said, I enjoyed the course but was sometimes frustrated by the introductory quality of it. That sounds somewhat condescending though I definitely don't mean it to. I was, however, already aware or avidly using almost all of technology we discussed. I wonder, once this course is more established, if it wouldn't be beneficial to offer a follow up that moves beyond the introductory and explores some areas that I feel need Library 2.0 needs to tackle. This includes:

1. Management. My LIS770 textbook, Management Basics for Information Professionals was over 500 pages long. Dull-as-dust, but plenty of Druckeresque meat to chew on. Idealistic graduates hoping to spread some of the good word concerning Library 2.0 are often leaving school and stepping into entrenched, change-resistant bureaucracies. So, introducing students to these new, potentially relevant new technologies is one thing but exploring ways for overcoming such resistance is another, equally important piece of the Library 2.0 equation. Additionally, what management models work best with Library 2.0? Perhaps we should be exploring or creating case studies for introducing emerging technologies in libraries and looking at how emerging technologies disrupt existing/popular management systems and how this might be successfully mitigated.

2. Evaluation. Earlier this year, the Americans For Libraries Council released a much needed report titled, Worth Their Weight: An Assessment of the Evolving Field of Library Valuation. It's well worth reading. Perhaps it's because the Library 2.0 field is so young, but I've seen distressing little talk amongst its proponents concerning how the technologies its advocating for are being evaluated. As the report makes clear, those of us advocating for libraries and the public financing and good-will needed to sustain them, must be able to, in quantitative terms, prove their worth. Increasingly, libraries are being asked to prove their social return on investment. This is a tricky, but evaluation methodologies are out there. While qualitative narratives/stories are important, funders trust and want numbers. We need to be studying these evaluation models.

3. Library Literacy. Libraries are still hopelessly bibliocentric. Ideas about what a library is (rather then what it could or should be) are firmly entrenched. They're about books. They're about reading. And, yes, reading is fundamental, but... I'd like to see a Library 2.0 follow up class that spent some time exploring a more expansive idea of what 21st literacy constitutes. Clearly some libraries are having success, making way for gaming, media labs and the like. There's a lot of great research going on in these areas and it would help fortify recent graduates moving into the public domain if they knew they had a lot of highly persuasive company working alongside them.

There's more, but Cathy is making cookies and a piece of cake beckons. I know this blog will continue to chug along. I hope others will allow their own to linger and will share, when inspired, their own thoughts.

Happy Holidays!

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