On Barriers in Libraries (An L2 Workshop)

MLS Tech Summit: Library 2.0

Yesterday, I spent three hours with some cool folks from around the Metropolitan Library System talking about Library 2.0. It was a great group and the session had a “workshop” feel – the perfect way to get ready for similar talks in Minnesota this May.

First, I did some background on Web 2.0 and the offspring of the 2.0 meme. This article was a good starting point!

Library 2.0:Planning, People & Participation

Dion Hinchcliffe allowed me to use his cool graphic.

Then, I asked Michael Casey and John Blyberg to give me their definitions and I matched those up with my own and those from other folks.

Library 2.0:Planning, People & Participation

Library 2.0:Planning, People & Participation

Library 2.0:Planning, People & Participation

Library 2.0:Planning, People & Participation

This lead to our first exercise: Thinking about Barriers in Libraries. I used Blyberg’s transformative realms of L2, added some more, and had the group do some workshopping. The top image in this post is what we came up with as the most important barriers libraries need to address according to the wisdom of the folks in the room at the time. This is fascinating stuff! I wonder what oither groups of librarians might come up with…



Too many policies
Irrelevant oragnizational chart
Remote users are not served
The Catalog isn’t like Amazon or Google (which our users USE!)
Too many sacred cows in reference departments
Librarians do not market themselves or their services well
Many libraries don’t have enough computers to meet user demand
Library staff need more training (and need to learn how to learn)
Libraries need more innovative programming

I’m reminded of what Meredith Farkas said in her interview with me at TechSource: “Question Everything!”

There are some incredible blog posts about barriers and “red tape. These are indeed barriers! Kathryn Deiss of MLS, in the workshop with us, pondered: “Many policies in libraries are born out of anxiety.” Maybe this explains the no food, no drink, no cell phone, no sitting at the table stuff we keep seeing. And this makes me sad.

One solution? Go through your policy manual with new eyes. Walk around the library and look for barriers! How is the language? What anxities are present if you read between the lines? How can you fix them?