Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…

Librarians are not immune to change.  In fact, we talk about change all the time.  We hold countless meetings to determine new ways of reaching out to new, existing, or inactive users.  We plan new programs to get teens into the Library.  We redesign our websites.  We expand our collections to include Blu-ray DVDs.  We sign up for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.  We claim our Library on Foursquare.  We change.  Right?

Right….ish.  I believe that the “change” that needs to occur in the Library is less about providing external, physical changes, and more about redeveloping, reconceptualizing and reorganizing the intrinsic ideals that guide our profession.  Do not get me wrong, providing new services and exploring new technologies are vital steps that Librarians can and should take towards proving the relevancy and value of the Library, however, these actions should not be considered revolutionary, or “2.0”, but should be a natural extension of the expectations of the profession.

Let me break down my thoughts a little more.

If Libraries were to “change” their ideals, what would this look like?

The Library is more than books

This is kind of a no-brainer to Librarians, especially those who embrace and adopt Library 2.0 principles.  However, the public at large still seems to perceive the Library as nothing more than a “warehouse” for books (and maybe other materials like movies and music).  Before we can truly “change,” we need to understand that in order to make the Library relevant, we must promote beyond the books.  How about focusing on our services for a change? Maybe instead of promoting that we have the latest best-seller, it’s time to profile our Business Librarians who are organizing a wiki that helps recently laid-off workers find jobs?  What if we spent time designing computer classes that teach teens how to write, film and edit movies?  What if we promoted our free Wi-Fi, comfy couches, and downloadables station?  The Library is the place to go to receive free and top of the line services, yet we often forget to promote these.  Sure Library 2.0 is about implementing new technology into the Library, but it’s also about making sure people know that it’s there.

Information is subjective

Gone are the days of “authoritative” information.  Librarians must redesign their ways of thinking and believe that all information is valuable.  Even if a piece of information is incorrect, then the opportunity is there to teach our patrons how to evaluate information, especially information that is self-published or created online. One way that Libraries can begin to incorporate all types of information into the learning process is in our catalogs.  How great would it be to have catalogs that not only pull up the books, movies and music we have in our collection that pertain to the topic being searched, but also points users to academic journals and articles, blog postings, podcasts, websites, tweets, even YouTube videos on the topic.  What if Librarians were nearby, assisting searches and not only explained how to navigate the catalog, but how to weed through the “crap” that’s on Google in order to find those gems that truly enhance learning?  Here’s another idea, what if rather than scoffing at Wikipedia, our Librarians started at Wikipedia and encouraged patrons to edit the article as part of their research process?   Library 2.0 is not only about providing the equipment to view this virtually limitless fountain of information, but it’s also about believing in the value of new information and helping our patrons find what they are looking for—peer reviewed or not.

The Librarian is cool

Let’s get one thing straight.  The stereotypical “Marian the Librarian” image that everyone seem to have of a Librarian should be as outdated as video cassettes and tape recorders.  Today’s Librarian 2.0 needs to be (and in so many cases, already is) cool. He or she must understand that our patrons are “connected” 24/7 and should never expect them to turn off their mobile phones, whisper when looking in the stacks or sit quietly in the neatly arranged furniture.  Perhaps this is where the biggest change needs to occur.  In order for a Library to truly evolve, to truly “change” the Librarians that work there, must start with themselves first.  Librarian 2.0 needs to make a commitment to keeping up with new technology; whether it’s incorporating Social Media into their everyday lives, trying out a new video game, or downloading music off iTunes.  Librarian 2.0 must learn how to “harness patron intelligence,” and realize that they have as much to learn from the users as the users have to learn from the Librarians.  Finally, they must continue to persevere and work towards the constant improvement of the Library profession.  Today might be Library 2.0, but Library 3.0 is around the corner (perhaps already here) and Librarians need to be ready for it

I hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts on Participatory Services and Library Redesign.  I found this video called A Librarian’s 2.0 Manifesto that was the inspiration for many of my arguments made above.  Please, click on the link below, watch and enjoy!

A Librarian’s 2.0 Manifesto

  1. Nice post. I especially like the last section about the role the librarian actually plays in all this change. It’s one thing to change the physical space and obtain things, but attitudes need to change, too, and not just among the users.

  2. I wish the stereotype of libraries would change!! I sometimes get the feeling that only us LIS students realize how cool the library and the librarian is (maybe because we’re all so cool). 🙂 I try to change the image though whenever possible. I always tell my friends about the video games we have and I check them out for them, and I made everyone sign up for the summer reading program to receive the great prizes! It may just be one opinion at a time, but hopefully the stigma will die off soon.

    • I love this comment! I try so hard to promote the “Cool” side of Libraries too–good to know I’m not alone!

    • That’s really true. One way that I always try to break the mold is to avoid using buzz terms or acronyms that librarians overuse in font of users. For example, I avoid directing users to the, “bound periodicals” instead I’ll say something like, “when we take a couple of issues of something and put a hardcover on it, it goes over here.” I think it breaks down those barriers that come off as, “look how much you don’t know about the library.”

  3. I appreciate your point about subjective information. So many times we get hung up in that issue. Sometimes, just in time, just right info is all folks need.

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