Library 2.0: Setting up the New Stuff

Next I heard David Lee King talk about Library 2.0 “Setting up the New Stuff”. While I obviously have a feel for some of the basic technologies that David went over, I’m still glad that I attended this event so that I can share what I learned with you all.

David broke the talk into 3 parts. Part 1 – He answered some questions.


Just cause we can isn’t a good enough reason (but it is a good reason in my opinion to play and experiment – if it’s free and easy – why not?). We need to think about how these tools will meet the changing customer needs (Like Lee said in the keynote – web users want to participate on our library websites – they want our sites to act like the rest of the web), how it will help us stay culturally relevant and how we’ll keep our digital spaces up to date.


There are lots of options out there to choose from – once again think before jumping. Use your library’s mission to help you pick tools that will help you meet those goals. Think about what you want the end result to be – do you want a place to share library news and have users comment? Then a blog might be your answer. David asked how many people had a comment box in their library – and only 2 hands were raised – but he made a good point, don’t you think users would be more likely to leave a comment via a web form than that box sitting at the circ desk??


Specifically – who does the work? Both staff and patrons can do the work. Staff members should be chosen because of an interest in the topic – not because of the department they work in. Patrons can help by commenting, adding to wiki pages, and creating groups with a vested interest in the library and the library site.


Always remember to include administrators and managers – you’re going to need them (you never know when you might need to request to equipment). Consider how much staff time you’re going to need – not just to start using the new tool – but to keep it going. Last and most importantly, ask yourselves – do we have willing participants, and if not, can we make them?


To quote David “Like, yesterday”. A lot of these tools have simple install files or sign up pages, it takes nearly no time at all – remember the Web 2.0 video (The Machine in Using Us)? Well, towards the end of that they create a blog in less than 10 seconds. That said, it does depend on whether you want to start big or small – if you want to use the predefined settings and templates or create your own.

So – that doesn’t sound too scary does it?? Next David moved on to Part 2: Content, Container and Customer.

David asked us who had taken a writing for the web class – and not many people raised their hands – which is okay because it’s not just about writing anymore – it’s about video, voice, and so much more. You have to remember to keep a conversational tone when creating content for the web – this is a hard thing for some librarians because they were taught to be professional and proper at all times – well, that just ain’t so anymore 🙂 Once you get the hang of it it really does make it more fun to create for the web. He also showed us a few library blogs started in 2005 that haven’t been posted on in as much time – you have to create often – if you can’t don’t try. If you think it looks unprofessional to write in a conversational tone, just imagine what it looks like to have a page that says “The newest news from our library” that was last updated in January of 2005.

Like I’m about to do with this summary – David says we don’t have to write for just one place – we can re-use content all over. I post these summaries to at least 3 (sometimes 4) blogs. David uses to upload his videos because they have a service that lets him send his content to a bunch of other places as well. How does this apply to your library? At Internet Librarian last year I attended a session on RSS & JavaScript. The gist was that you don’t need to know how to code to get an RSS feed to print on your web page – you can use a blog and copy a bit of JavaScript and you’re set. This is one of those ways where you care publishing in 2 places. You can write to the blog, but others can read the content on your library website, pathfinder, or links page.

I mentioned the inviting participation series of posts a while back – what a great time to bring them back to the forefront. There are 2 ways of inviting participation. One is passive and that is to write compelling content and allow comments. There is also an active way (that sounds like a great idea). On David’s library’s blog (Papercuts) they write a weekly post they ask a question (What’s your favorite book? Who’s your favorite author? etc) and that makes people feel like their participation is appreciated. This goes for both staff and patrons!

Next the container. Like I said before, do you want your page to use the default template or a fancy-schmancy one? This doesn’t just go for you blog either – MySpace and other social networking sites offer you different design options. My recommendation is to play first and design later – make sure it’s going to stick before you spend too much time on it.

Last (but not least in my book) the customers. One of the ways that social networking is “social” is that most of these tools have a friends or contacts list. These don’t have to be your “real” friends, they can be your customers/patrons – by adding them as your friends they can easily subscribe to your content on Flickr, MySpace, etc etc. Allow your patrons to comment – this can’t be stressed too much!! Our customers can also be creators, let them participate and let them contribute – it’s what they want.

The last part was a list of the specifics for those I’ll point you to Michael Sauers’ summary (he was sitting next to me) – he did a great job of listing all of the specifics you’ll have to think about – since it looks like I’ve rambled on enough already!!

[update] See David’s Slides [/update]

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