My director has tasked me (and I'm very willing to take it on) with doing brief, hit-and-run, emails to all the library staff to explain Library 2.0 concepts and tools to our staff, most of whom have no desire to move forward (there are some and I'm thrilled to have them on board). This is a copy of the email I sent out today. I'd be curious to what y'all think. The next one will be on because it's probably the most relevant to them.

Subject: What's this I hear about Library2.0?

Hi all,

You may have heard the terms "web 2.0" and "library 2.0" buzzing about the library world. Or maybe you haven't, and that's ok. But what I'd like to do is take a second and explain what both of those things mean, and some of the "2.0 tools" that you might continue to hear about, and that we here at CPLS might be looking at to better serve our patrons. I'll try to keep the editorial comments out of it (like what parts of it I love and what I can't stand), but I make no guarantees.

This is the first in a series of emails that I ' ll be sending out regarding Library 2.0, to explain some of the sites and concepts I've given a brief introduction to below. So if not all of it makes sense, or you need more details, or you have something to add, please feel free to email me, or better yet, the group. That's how this works.

So what exactly are Web 2.0 and Library 2.0?

Well, honestly, it depends who you ask. Web 2.0 is touted as the next generation web, with more interaction and interactive sites as opposed to just static information. Web 2.0 is everything from blogs, RSS feeds, wikis and IM/chat to things like Second Life ( myspace ( (note, this will be blocked by the City IT dept), facebook ( (this one will be blocked too), flickr (, (, technorati ( and dig ( What it really means is that the web sites that require you to do something with them (share information, play, create content) are becoming more popular. Terms like "social networking sites" are being buzzed about because of the ability to create neighborhoods and "friends" lists and to interact with others through the Internet in a way other than email or the more common chat programs such as AIM or Yahoo Instant Messenger.

It also is about creating the metadata (information about your Information) and sharing it with others. Things like sharing bookmarks and seeing how many have also bookmarked something ( or blogged about it (technorati) as well as tagging - what they've called it when people have applied their own labels to things like their photos (flickr), their blog entries (Livejournal, vox (, their bookmarks (have you bookmarked what did you label it? News? Local? Drek?) and who looks at what at any given moment (digg). The concept of tagging is the part that the libraries and librarians have kind of grasped onto, mostly because it's familiar to us - we like to organize. (Course, have you seen my desk lately?)

Library 2.0 is actually the application of the concepts of Web 2.0 to the library world. Things like which allow people to share what they ' ve bookmarked with anyone and technorati that allow people to see what others are blogging about and linking to in real time were things that libraries found useful. More recently, it's been about how real language tagging can be beneficial to library catalogs, and what catalogs can learn from sites such as and technorati.

The other buzz in the Library 2.0 community are the "social networking” side. Libraries and librarians with professional myspace accounts are popping up all over the place (Hennepin County (MN), Denver Public, Topeka (KS) just to name a few). It's not just for kids and teens anymore. In fact, facebook is in the process of overtaking myspace as the favored destination for teens and college students. A big buzz is being made over Second Life (, which we've had at least one information session on here at CPLS. And many, many libraries (including us) have photos of the libraries and library staff up on flickr.

What does it mean for us as a library?

Well, honestly, at this point, no one really knows how it will impact libraries in the long term. There’s a wiki called Library 2.0 ( where Just that is being discussed. Things like tagging and sharing bookmarks will most likely have the greatest long term impact (imagine patrons being able to create tags for items in our catalog!!!), but the sexy aspects of 2.0 like Second Life and Twitter and Tumblr ( are what people seem to be talking about more. So I'll be, in this series of emails, talking about these various tools and sites in more detail as time goes on.

In my opinion (and you know what that's worth, and whoops, here I go slipping into judgment), it doesn't change libraries as much as we think it does. We're still places people can come for information, be it educational, recreational or social. We still need a sense of place, both physical and online, to allow them to do this. What it will require is a shift in attitude from "we have all the information" to "we need to have input from those around us on and in what we offer." And that could be tough for libraries and librarians to get.

Like I said above, feel free to email me (or the group!) with questions, comments or additional information about anything. We all learn from each other and no one knows it all.


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Hi Tracey,

You're right when you say there are many definitions for Web 2.0. I tend to avoid that phrase and go with Social Web instead. It's the social networking side that I focus on. I teach a Social Web Literacy class at my library and I've been trying to get people to see a new role for libraries within a series of dialogue with patrons -- interacting with them in different ways never done before. They will find us in many different places depending on their interests but the conversations we can have with them lead back to our wealth of resources. All our services, then, can reinforce each other, but we need to be sure we are out there to be found in the first place.

So far we've ventured into blogs, podcasts, wikis, Flickr, and MySpace. There's been a tremendous response among rank and file staff but a strange resistance from several key people in our organization to advertise these. I'm confident our patrons WILL find us and a very useful mutual conversation will follow. I don't know where we'll end up but I feel confident that we MUST become wide open to our patrons. The social web is a great way to do that. Good luck at your library.
for what it's worth I blogged about a load of web 2.0 technologies / services that openlearn is considering. You can see it here .
Hi Tracey...Thanks for sharing your email. One of the things on my "action plan" for this year is to do some "brown bag" education sessions for staff on some of the 2.0 stuff I've been weaving in to our website. I've delved in to flickr, blogger, and turned our "recommended internet links" in to I think there are a lot of peeps like us out there -- the keeners in each library -- who are in the same boat. There is definately a gap between the "2.0'ers" and the rest of 'em. I was thrilled when we had Stephen Abram come and do his "2.0" talk at the library last year -- he was in town for a conference, and very kindly agreed to do an extra in-house talk for us. But, it was a bit overwhealming for those who are still blown away by email, if you know what I mean. Plus, our ancient projector wouldn't play nice with his laptop, so the ppt was a bit wonky. Anyway...thanks again for sharing, it's great to see what others are doing, and I'll let you know how my "brown bag" sessions go. Have you seen PLCMC's Learning 2.0 program? Check it out here:

We've been doing something like that at our school(I'm at high school librarian) for our teachers. We do sessions nicknamed after Project Runway (Project Technology) and do 20 minute sessions once a week, and introduce one type of tool at each workshop. We've had the most positive response. Teachers attend voluntarily, but because it's in smaller pieces, it's not overwhelming even if they aren't that tech savvy.

So I'm all for your idea! Good luck!
Absolutely. That's part of the reason I put it out here. Not a problem if anyone wants to send it out. ;)
If I were an unwilling staff member at your library, I think I would tune out such a message, despite its informative nature. In a forthcoming article on Library 2.0 (Medical Reference Services Quarterly 2007; 26 suppl 1), I refer to the following:

"The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County
developed a learning competition for library staff of all generations that
involves experimenting with 23 things related to blogging, photo sharing, RSS feeds and
newsreaders, generating images, tagging, wikis, open source productivity tools, sharing audio
and video files, and much more. PLCMC library staff who successfully completed the 23 items
by a specified date won a USB/MP3 player, and qualified to win other prizes."

I think it is hard to engage the disengaged through e-mail messages. Try something more active and fun.
Good point. But there's a couple things going on here. 1st, we're trying to make people check their email. 2nd, this is just one aspect of lib 2.0 hit and runs, which include 20-30 min overview sessions, an internal wiki, and staff "games" where we are giving away prizes such as mp3 players and chocolate.

To get to everyone, you need to do a myriad of things.
Most of our staff is pretty good about checking their email on a regular basis, so my first level of internal communication is always by email. However, I've found that many people don't really read further than a paragraph or two, so I try to keep the emails short and sweet - hit the main 1-2 points and then either redirect them to a web page of some sort or follow it up with another email. I like the conversational tone and content of your email, but if I were sending it out to my staff, I would have edited the length.
I'm another vote for keeping it short and sweet. I confess that just not I only read the first paragraph and then quickly skimmed the rest of your letter before moving on to see what people's comments were. If you don't want to or can't make it shorter then I think it would help if you bulleted your points. This will make it easier for people to skim the email and still get the idea of what you're saying.
I agree with Catherine. I think that this was too long an introduction, especially for those who aren't keen on engaging in the social web.
Thanks for sharing this. I'm trying to work out how to do this at my library. You want to present concepts but if it's too abstract it can seem pretty remote from people's jobs. I agree that tagging is an easier sell-- "like do it yourself subject headings"!, but the radical trust part is tougher.

How many out there are doing the full-on 23 things-type programs?
We're not doing the 23-things program yet, but I'm hoping to get it going this year.



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