As part of course work in Hyperlinked Libraries at SJSU in my MLIS program, I am reading the book discussed below. I feel that the book and discussion may be of interest to some of my readers here and have cross-posted this from Hypermarc.
Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service is as much a “how to” manual as it is theory. As I did with Redesigning Library Services, I am blogging as I read the text in an effort to pick out and work with particular ideas in the book as I go.
I have to say that I’ve been thus far relieved in the emphasis of the physical space in the definition and discussion of Library 2.0. Not that I’m anti-technology or am in any way thinking that the library, as Casey and Savastinuk refer to it at times, as “brand book.” But often we read in library and education literature that library and education equal technology. Technology is the second coming and we will all be jacked into cyberspace soon because the physical world is just so limiting. Or at least that’s the way it starts to feel. Casey and Savastinuk seem to feel that not only are we not living in the Cyberpunk world of the matrix, but there is a place for the physical that will not likely ever go away. This harkens back to Buckland’s comments about the fact that the Electronic Library is not the goal. The goal is a hybrid Electronic/Automated Library where physical and digital media happily coexist.
The emphasis is on change in our library environments. Not revolutionary change. Not sudden change. Not drastic change. Not change that replaces the physical with the digital. But slow, responsive, purposeful and constant change that allows libraries to remain relevant to current users and become relevant to non-users whatever their needs are.
The authors speak extensively about learning about your users and and the non-users, and finding out what they like and what they don’t like about what the library offers. They encourage us to not be afraid to get rid of those services that are no longer relevant and look for new services that will increase the effectiveness of the library and bring new users in. This is where I start to take issue with the arguments.
Casey and Savastinuk spend some time talking about library mission statements. While I have wrestled with creating a mission statement myself and recognize the challenges in that process, I also see the value in having a clearly articulated ideology that informs decision making at all levels. These mission statements often speak of learning and connecting people with ideas and resources. They refer to reading, knowledge, enlightenment, and connection. These are all great concepts that are all about what what libraries are. Then we are told to take a walk around our community and see where people are and bring those ideas back to the library. Gaming nights are often touted as great ways of getting kids in the door of the library. I have no doubt that providing a space that kids can congregate for a common activity is popular with a certain kind of kid. My bet is that there is a significant cross-over between gamers and readers. But what does gaming have to do with all of those important words in our mission statements. Does our mission statement speak of providing a safe place to hang out for our community’s youth? Does it speak of connecting youth with each other? Does it speak of the development of hand-eye coordination? At best, tangentially.
I think that it is important as we walk the streets or halls of our communities looking for non-users to convert to the ways of the library, we need to have our mission statements firmly etched in our minds. Our spaces are not for everyone to do everything. There is a framework that we work within. That framework may be way more flexible than we currently believe it to be, but none the less, there are things that we don’t do and services that we shouldn’t perform regardless of how popular they may be. We do have a brand, and while it does certainly extend beyond “brand book,” it should not be watered down to include everything. In trying to do everything and serve everyone, we will do nothing well.