New World of Librarianship

Michael Stephens, Photo by Adam Tarwacki
Michael Stephens, Photo by Adam Tarwacki

Sharpen these skills for Librarian 2.0

One of the principles I would add to the Library 2.0 meme is that “the Library is human” because it makes the library a social and emotionally engaging center for learning and experience. Librarian 2.0, then, is the “strategy guide” for helping users find information, gather knowledge and create content. The most important traits of Librarian 2.0 include:

Librarians 2.0 plans for their users

This librarian bases all planning and proposals for services, materials and outreach on user needs and wants. User-centered libraries breakdown barriers and allow users access wherever they are: home, work, commuting, school, or at the library. This involves users from the get go in planning and launching services based on their needs. This librarian asks what new technologies or new materials users need. This librarian proposes building projects and involves users in designing those places. This librarian does not create policies and procedures that impede users’ access to the library. This librarian tells users how resources and funds will be expended. Decisions and plans are discussed in open forums and comments are answered. This makes the library transparent.

Librarian 2.0 embraces Web 2.0 tools

This librarian recognizes how services might be enhanced by the Read/Write web and how new services might be born in a climate of collaboration. This librarian uses Instant Messaging to meet users in their space online, builds Weblogs and wikis as resources to further the mission of the library, and mashes up content via API (Application Program Interface) to build useful Web sites. A Google map mash up of local libraries created by Chicago librarians is one such instance of building tools via new resources. Other librarians creating MySpace profiles and participating in other thriving communities build connections online where their users live.

Librarian 2.0 controls technolust

This librarian does not buy technology for the sake of technology. “Techno-worship” does not exist here. Without a firm foundation in the mission and goals of the institution, new technologies are not implemented for the sake of coolness and status. Technology is put to the test: Does it meet the users need in a new or improved way? Does it create a useful service for putting users together with the information and experience they seek? These are some of the questions this librarian asks when planning for technology. This librarian creates and nurtures a living, breathing technology plan.

Cover of the Web 2.0 Issue of NextSpace

Librarian 2.0 makes good, yet fast decisions

This librarian recognizes how quickly the world and library users change with advancing technology. Project timelines that stretch on for months simply do not work in Library 2.0 thinking. Perpetual beta works well for the library’s Web presence. This librarian redesigns for ease of use, user involvement and easily added/re-configured pieces. This librarian brings evidence to the table for planning sessions and decision making, such as recent studies from Pew, articles from professional and scholarly journals and a synthesis of on topic postings from the biblioblogosphere.

Librarian 2.0 is a trendspotter

This librarian seeks out information and news that may impact future services. This librarian has read the OCLC Pattern Recognition and User Perception reports and uses them in planning. This librarian uses the Cluetrain Manifesto and realizes that networked markets are library users as well and that honest, human conversations need to take place within their institution, virtually and in physical space. This librarian reads outside the profession and watches for the impact of technology on users and new thinking on business, because it is, in fact, related.

Librarian 2.0 gets content

This librarian understands that the future of libraries will be guided by how users access, consume and create content. Content is a conversation as well and librarians should participate. Users will create their own mash ups, remixes and original expressions and should be able to do so at the library or via the library’s resources. This librarian will help users become their own programming director for all of the content available to them.

Librarian 2.0 also listens to staff and users when planning, tells the stories of successes and failures, learns from both, celebrates those successes, allows staff time to play and learn, and never stops dreaming about the best library services.

(This article was originally published in the OCLC NextSpace Magazine in April 2006. They have given me permission to post it here as I build some of my portfolio resources into TTW. Thanks to Tom Storey and everyone at OCLC. The Web version of NextSpace is here.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

People, Libraries & Technology – A Weblog by Michael Stephens