Library 2.0?

Rochelle worries that all this Library 2.0 talk is lost on her library. Ross tells us why he hates the Library 2.0 meme and Dan reminds us it’s not about buzzwords. But Michael is getting closest to a point that’s been troubling me for a while: Library 2.0 isn’t about software, it’s about libraries. It’s about the evolution of all of our services to meet the needs of our users.

Let me step back a bit.

Before the development of the camera, illustrative painting and portraiture was a trade on par with carpentry and masonry. But as photography became a reality, painters found themselves in a quandary. Many said that those early black and white photos were inferior to large and colorful portraits on canvas, but the photos were quicker, cheaper, and offered a scientific representation of reality that suited the times. And so painting, having lost its relevancy as a form of documentary reality, became art. As art, it exploded with new non-representational forms and styles (plot the timeline of the impressionists against a timeline of photography), and became collectable.

Our perspective prevents us from seeing the turmoil of those times, but let me try apply that lesson to libraries today.

We have two choices. We can continue to operate by the old rules and hope that we find wealthy patrons to support us as symbols of the wealth and refinement of our communities. But, if we look hard, I think we’ll find that we can apply the core values of librarianship to new current technologies and new service models, and rather than becoming a sort of art, we will be valued for serving the needs of our communities.