Social Media and Libraries

“The heart of Library 2.0 is user-centered change.  It is a model for library service that encourages constant and purposeful change…”

– Michael E. Casey and Laura C. Savastinuk

Casey and Savastinuk describe the potential use of Web 2.0 technologies by libraries as a method whereby  “purposeful change” can be fostered.  While certain Web 2.0 technologies may be useful to libraries, it is important to think critically about which of these technologies libraries decide to adopt.  Libraries have often been criticized for their willingness to quickly adopt new technologies without fully considering the possible ramifications, such as the allocation of monetary resources towards the purchase of ebooks (see Meredith Farkas’ blog), and Web 2.0 technology is no exception.

As part of the research project I am currently working on, I examine both academic and public library websites to see which 2.0 technologies they have incorporated into their services and how these technologies are being used.  While some libraries have developed effective ways to use applications such as instant messaging, blogs, and Twitter, others have tried to incorporate Web 2.0 technologies with less than stellar results.  After seeing these examples of how Web 2.0 technology is currently being used in libraries, it makes me wary of the declarations of its future usefulness that can be seen in the current library literature.

That is not to say that I think libraries should stay away from adopting Web 2.0 technology in order to stay current, useful, and valuable to their patrons.  Instead, I think it is necessary to think long and hard about what technologies will be the most useful and how they will be accepted by the users they serve in order to ensure that the change that results is indeed purposeful.

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