Cheers & Jeers

By Michael Casey & Michael Stephens

We’ve been writing the Transparent Library for a year, so it’s time for some thumbs up and thumbs down.

Cheers to the widespread librarians, library staff, administrators, trustees, and others from libraries small and large who have participated in localized versions of Helene Blowers’s Learning 2.0 program. As we write, the entire state of Minnesota is running the program for all interested parties, reinforcing the idea that inclusive, self-directed learning applied to emerging tools can bring people together and get them talking.

Cheers to the State Library of South Carolina for its engaging, personalized web portal created with Joomla. Other state libraries should look to this as a model: blogging state librarians, open online forums for discussion, and shared videos of South Carolina librarians.

Jeers to SirsiDynix for leading us down the primrose path of Horizon 8, Rome, and then Symphony. Now that our confidence is lost and our trust in most major ILS vendors is shot, we have to begin to look inward for our future.

Cheers to the many libraries and librarians brave enough to enter the world of open source software and open ILS systems such as Evergreen, Koha, LibX, and LibraryFind. It’s not easy deciding to jettison long-established library brand names. Those willing to take the leap have been crafting and perfecting the tools, easing the path for others.

Cheers to LibLime for recognizing the power and potential of open source and for creating the “Open Source Evangelist” position, hiring Nicole Engard.

Cheers to the many librarians who have joined the local and global conversation via blogs, wikis, Flickr, and other social networks. The expression of shared ideas, feedback, and solutions furthers the professional discourse.

Jeers to IT departments that still hide behind “it’s not secure,” “we can’t support that,” and technology plans/decisions made without involving librarians or users. We’re ready for an open dialog about security, privacy, and what resources we can realistically spend. We understand how busy IT can be. We simply want the discussions to be more inclusive.

Cheers to libraries like North Carolina State University (NCSU) for the “transparent reference desk” at its Information Commons. Much more than furniture, this acknowledges what can be done in an open collaborative space. With iPods and digital cameras available for checkout, NCSU shows that librarians can be technology support leaders, trainers, and advocates for collaboration.

Cheers to those creating specialty libraries for youth. The Stockholm Public Library’s Serieteket library for comics and graphic literature does a wonderful job of reaching out to the youth market, offering great public spaces.

Cheers to the Library of Congress and its Commons Project on Flickr. This grand experiment in group tagging should be exciting to watch. It has provided yet another argument for libraries to step outside of their traditional thinking and use new online tools.

Jeers to libraries that make decisions and craft policy, whether on signage, hours, meeting rooms, or Internet filtering, but won’t defend them publicly.

Cheers to the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne (ACPL), IN, for using technology as an opportunity to extend the library’s reach. Sharing a “Day in the Life” of the county via user-submitted images and presenting ACPL director Jeff Krull on YouTube discussing reading are priceless.

Cheers to those brave librarians who post photos of signage both good and bad. A library should be able to defend its way-finding methods to its users-or make changes.

Cheers to John Blyberg for writing “Library 2.0 Debased,” pointing to broader issues of policy, programming, and space rather than shiny new tools and semantics.

Cheers to other librarians who’ve reported on changes they’ve made to web sites, physical spaces, policies, and programming. Now we must focus on how to evaluate emerging technologies in the library setting.



Learning 2.0

Library of Congress Flickr Project

Library signage

Open Source Evangelist

State Library of South Carolina

Stockholm’s Comics Library

Michael Casey is Information Technology Division Director, Gwinnett County Public Library, Lawrenceville, CA, and co-author of Library 2.0.

March 15, 2008 Library Journal