What to Consider When Evaluating and Implementing Web 2.0 Tools in Your Library

  • Be adept at exploring new technologies. One of the most important things to remember when it comes to Web 2.0 is that there will always be new tools. Libraries must consider the training needs both for their staff and their users. Staff must be given time to learn and participate in the online world.
    • Build staff training programs for late-bloomers.
    • Let staff communicate and share what they are learning weekly using 1.0 methods, such as emerging technology committees or newsletters.
    • Encourage staff to share and work together.
  • Creative Commons (CC) is another topic for library staff to consider. This allows content owners to specify a level of copyright protection that works for their needs. CC often relaxes copyright restrictions to promote creative freedom and remix, balancing end users’ desire to freely use Web information with authors’ intellectual property rights. CC replaces “all rights reserved” with “some rights reserved,” usually that the work be attributed, not sold and, if remixed, then reshared under CC.
  • It’s important to be aware of the tools the public is using. If the vast majority of one of the library’s user populations use instant messaging, it is important to offer virtual reference services via IM. If your patrons are avid blog readers, your library might want to start a blog to disseminate information about programs, services or resources.

Libraries should not only examine how social software can improve services to their patrons, but they should also consider how these tools can improve internal communication and collaboration. While social software tools can improve the ways in which libraries communicate with patrons, they can also improve internal communication and knowledge sharing. Blogs, wikis and social bookmarking each can play a role. A library wiki knowledge base can decrease people’s dependence on their colleagues’ in-person expertise. Blogs are a great way to disseminate news about broken printers or new databases. Social bookmarking can help colleagues share useful Web links.

Stories from the Field

Libraries can play a greater role in their communities by building dynamic, interactive Web sites, reaching out to users via instant messaging, feeding out content such as library holdings and library news to other community-based Web sites and offering mechanisms for users to create or mash up library content. Before there will be success, however, there must be a commitment by the librarians to sustain successful services and participate in the ongoing conversation. A library’s online presence should never be an afterthought or an aside with just one or two librarians contributing. There should be a collective voice made up of the individuals of the library staff.

Michael Stephens

Spring 2006 SirsiDynix UpStream

Allen County Public Library has used Flickr for three years in a row to do A Day in the Life of Allen County. They’ve encouraged their community to, on one specific day, take pictures in the community, upload them to their own Flickr account, tag it a specific way or if they want to email it to the library they can, and then Allen County showcases it on their Web site. And the nice thing about that is they’re not sustaining a whole year of capturing pictures about whatever. They're doing it in a really small timeframe.

Helene Blowers

Columbus Public Library, OH

Further Resources

We have included a large number of resource links related to Web 2.0 reference information and tools.