Posts Tagged ‘adaptation’

web 2.0 – lib 2.0

The topics that have been covered thus far in the blog (remember, if anyone new to blogs is reading this, ‘written first, read last’) have been but a few examples of ‘2.0’ technology. Collaboration, sharing, user participation and feedback are all components of Web 2.0 thinking. Applied to libraries, this thinking is intuitively referred to as Library 2.0.

As I mentioned at the end of the Virtual Reference post, the web has changed so much already in its lifespan, there is almost no way we can even guess at where it’ll be 10 years from now (or even less than that). Tim Berners-Lee will be one of the first to say that the web is nowhere near mature…Web 2.0, a big, big deal right now, will eventually be talked about in the past tense.

So what does that mean right now?

What does that mean for libraries and the people who work in them?

That question was asked 2 years ago (I’m sure it’s been asked many times, far more recently than that) on, but the answers weren’t particularly penetrating. Trying now to predict our own future will do us little good, with all of the advancement that we’re facing. If we could see where the web, and even our jobs, would be taking us, we wouldn’t know what to do with it.

What will likely be the most constructive course of action will be learning as much as possible from as many sources as possible. Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat draws on 10 Flatteners, of which five are technological. Though largely economic, his book draws the same conclusion about what is to be done…adaptation will the key.

Adapting to 2.0 technology has been the goal of the library for this first decade of the ‘new’ millennium. And for the most part, it has been working. Libraries are bringing automatic book-sorting machines to do what a library assistant use to do, but at the same time, librarians are expanding their roles at an unprecedented rate. In 1964, Ellinor G. Preston wrote the following:

The librarian, that is the person who has been trained in the evaluation, selection and organization primarily of books, has a greatly expanded role in a facility offering not only books, but a great variety of materials. He must then be ready to accept this new role and contribute his skills to the efficient organization of all materials.

It was clear then, to Ellinor G. Preston, that the future was murky at best. More preparatory than cautionary, the message is the same: adapt.  While the exact duties to come were unknown, the role would be distinct, and crucial.

As I look at libraries where I grew up and worked, I know that the future may be hard for them. Especially the library in my hometown…only a few thousand people in the combined towns that share the library, many of whom don’t support the library as it is. In the face of changing technology as well as a foundering economy, libraries have a tough row to hoe…a long book to write…a…

…a need for capable, and (once more for good measure) adaptable employees and patrons alike. Or else I just might change the name of this blog to the underbooked librarian.