Friday, April 25, 2008

Library 2.0

Michael Casey and Laura Savastinuk's article in the Library Journal not only changed the way libraries are perceived, but also how librarians run them. In a way, Library 2.0 principles are nothing new. Interlibrary loan is very much a "long tail" concept. In fact, would it be possible to view Library 2.0 as change management in its most extreme form? Nonetheless, it was a brilliant read when the book was published. Here's what I got out of the book about Library 2.0 concepts.

(1) Plan, Implement, and Forget - Changes must be constant and purposeful. Services need to be continually evaluated.

(2) Mission Statement - A library without a clear mission is like a boat without a captain. It drives the organization, serving as a guide when selecting services for users and letting you set a clear course for Library 2.0

(3) Community Analysis - Know your users. Talk to them, have a feel for who you're serving, and who they are.

(4) Surveys & Feedback - Get both users and staff feedback. It's important to know what works and what doesn't.

(5) Team up with competitors - Don't think of the library as being in a "box." Look at what users are doing elsewhere that they could be doing through the library. Neither should bookstores or cafes or the Internet. Create a win-win relationship with local businesses that benefits everyone.

(6) Real input from staff - Having feedback means implementing ideas, and not just for show. Eventually, staff will realize the hoax, and morale will suffer.

(7) Evaluating services - Sacred cows do not necessarily need to be eliminated; however, nothing should be protected from review.

(8) Three Branches of Change model - This allows all staff - from frontline workers to the director - to understand the changes made. The three teams are: investigative, planning, and review team.

(9) Long tail - Web 2.0 concepts should be incorporated into the Library 2.0 model as much as possible. For example, the Netflix model does something few services can do: get materials into the hands of people who do not come into libraries. Think virtually as well as physically.

(10) Constant change & user participation - These two concepts form the crux of Library 2.0.

(11) Web 2.0 technologies - They give users access to a wide variety of applications that are neither installed nor approved by IT. The flexibility is there for libraries to experiment unlike ever before. It is important to have conversation where none exists before. Online applications help fill this gap.

(12) Flattened organizational structure - Directors should not make all the decisions. Instead, front line staff input should be included. Committees that include both managers and lower level staff help 'flatten' hierarchical structure, creating a more vertical structure that leads to more realistic decision-making.

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