Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Learning Bog #2 Optimist or Pessimist?

  • Are you a Library 2.0 optimist or pessimist? Address points from the video talks by Michael Stephens and William Powers that helped you develop or change your point of view.
After watching the 2 videos (and realizing there is nothing more painful than watching a video of someone give a powerpoint talk) and reading I have to say I am a "Web 2.0 optimist" and a "Library 2.0 pessimist". I love the social networking tools. I love facebook for letting me connect with faraway friends, get to know acquaintances better, send kid & cat pictures to said friends. The random status updates and musings just crack me up. Skeptics call it "trivial"---think of it as the digital equivalent of "small talk". I get it! It works because it is a self-selected group. You can choose which posts rise to the top. De-friend or block the others.

I tell new users to facebook that you really need to get a critical mass of friends to post interesting stuff before it gets usable. In that sense, sometimes my library's facebook page seems like it is sending out lonely missives to the world without anyone responding. It does not seem social without any comments or feedback.

Stephens talks about technology being "just a tool".Yes the library needs tools, I'm just not convinced they need to be social networking tools. I'm not sure that the library is "social". Sometimes it is solitary!  Because with facebook I'm sharing with self-selected friends, with the library 2.0, I do not know who I am sharing with. No I'm not sure that I want to add my tags and book reviews to the library blog. Amazon has done it, and done it better. LibraryThing has done it and done it better. Now I am supposed to post in yet another place? Why not just grab said reviews from the existing sites instead of duplicating the effort.

I think whatever Library2.0 gadgets we build must blend into the background and be seamless.  Yes have a "text me this call number" so I don't have to hunt around for a scrap of paper to copy down the call number from the catalog. Yes I want a button to export the citation directly to RefWorks so I can get it into my research project. Yes catalog tell me which copies are available, and let me place my own hold or request and send it to this particular library. Yes, let me have a mobile version of the catalog, so I can have the bare basics on my ipod touch. Yes, send me a tweet when that new book from my favorite author is published. Yes send me a text when my books are coming due, and let me have the option to renew them with another text. "Save the time of the user". But I don;t need the library to have a facebook presence just to have a facebook page. How useful is it and what is it for?

The "Aha" moments came for me later on in Stephen's talk, when he was explaining the social library with desks students could move around, and open inviting "Ask questions here" signs at the reference desk. It remined me of the readers and discussions and strategic planning our library staff did around creating a "Learning Commons". It was nice to go back and revisit that now that we have had the LC up and running for over a year now. More places for collaboration, services at the point of need, more room at the tables. It's nice to see, hey we are doing something right here!

My challenging moments came during trying to read Jefferson's Moose. I did like the sections talking about Thomas Jefferson--I had no idea he had his hands in so many professions, interests and hobbies. But trying to connect it to the world of cyberspace--he lost me. The Moose metaphor just did not work for me in trying to convey how wonderful and fascinating new social networking technology is.

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Karen - I love that you describe yourself as "web 2.0 optimist" but "library 2.0 pessimist". It sums up for me so much of what I have been thinking about libraries and how they relate to this social networking world. Also, I like that you asked "what purpose does this serve?" of any library technology. What a good basic first question for any library to ask! Let us not use a tool because we like the tool, but rather find a tool that makes the most sense to serve our users.