I’m curious what resistance to Library 2.0 you’ve seen.

The correspondence that goes to American Libraries (as opposed to a specific person at the magazine) goes through me, and I've lately seen some backlash to coverage of 2.0 issues--coverage of Second Life will bring a haughty "I have quite enough to do in the first life, thank you very much" response, for example. One that really intrigued me was from a woman spectacularly peeved that a column should suggest participation in Second Life, when she's already so busy doing “real” library work. She went on to list some of her library activities, among them a newspaper column and a radio show.

If a newspaper column and radio show are real library work, why not Second Life? Don’t they have the same outreach and promotional goals? Yet this woman clearly didn’t see it that way.

To me, the term “2.0” has the connotation of new, cutting-edge techy stuff that’s hard-to-understand and requires a radical shift in thinking. That’s not my experience with 2.0 applications, but I suspect that others share that impression or its worse counterpart – an “us vs. them” mentality (e.g., “I’m not one of the Library 2.0 people, therefore they are inexorably wrong in all things.”).

Have you seen similar response?

The 2.0 applications I’ve used can be interpreted as only changes in method, rather than changes in ideas. (My blog is just a collection of articles, just like the magazine, distributed in a somewhat different way; Myspace is a way to network, rather than a new concept called “networking”.) One of the great virtues of Helene Blowers’ Learning 2.0 course was how it broke down Library 2.0 into simple, digestible chunks; I wonder if resistors would be more amenable to Library 2.0 if they were introduced to it in these chunks rather than as a whole.

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I agree that resistance is healthy. I understand when the libraries I serve ask why they have to add one thing more when I can't tell them why it's a good thing to do. I think it's important for the brave souls that feel comfortable experimenting to try things out and give the resistant souls a good feel for how, or if, a technology or methodology should be implemented in their library.

It does not help libraries or librarianship when there's a techno-snobbery divide. It causes the resistant folks to dig in deeper (nobody likes to feel dumb or that they aren't as valuable as somebody else or that they are "dinosaurs") instead of gently welcoming them into this brave new world. I think we all believe we are doing a good job serving our patrons/customers...and I think without exception we can all improve. If we approach this as more of a customer service angle (making something good even better) I think we'll be more likely to find ways to make these ideas and technologies work for libraries.
Oh wow - I think this is one of the most important topics of this network group so far.

In the current economic situtation where downsizing is the norm, staff members have to do the work of two or more former staff that have left. It requires us to look at what we do and prioritize, deciding what to retain and what to give up.

In such an environment (which pretty much describes my institution), the notion of staff learning and taking on something new like Library 2.0 (L2) techniques is practically an insult, because existing staff are struggling just to maintain basic services.

To me it strongly suggests a generational divide. People below the age of 30 grew up with computers and most are extremely fluent using them for work AND for leisure. (Do people really still watch tv anymore?) In a recent talk, Steve Abrams mention a survey in which nearly all of college students were using Facebook. In the same survey, I think 95% said they had profiles on MySpace or a similar network. Would that be as true of those between the ages of 50-59? I think not.

I don't think L2 is about technology, although technology is the tool. I think part of what L2 is about is collaboration, social networking, having an open approach to information seeking and finding. It's more of a new (or if you don't like "new," then "different) way to approach certain ideas, of collaboration in order to achieve better results and be more connected with other people/institutions. It's also recognizing that "change" is a permanent state, and that survival will be based on one's ability to continually adapt to changing situations.

A lot of this scares people, just as any change can be scary or traumatic. Perhaps one solution is not to see L2 as changing existing methods, but to let go of older methods in favor of newer ones. They said in Star Trek, it's not about finding a solution to an impossible problem but rephrasing the question. Ergo, don't bother change existing library structures, but implement new ones that will make the old ones obsolete.
Hi Bob, I so agree with what you say here - especially about technology being the tool, not necessarily the essence of 2.0, and about "rephrasing the question!"

The generational thing is a real hang up for me, though, whenever I think about this issue. I work with the staff of 48 libraries, and yes, I agree there is a huge divide out there between the users and the non users. And generally speaking, there is a generational element to the divide between those who have integrated technology and 2.0 concepts into their normal lives. But I also see a real issues with younger librarians - I think that the perception of 2.0 and technology use being more readily adopted by young people puts a lot of pressure on young librarians. So I see a lot of younger librarians who are totally intimidated by all of this, not in small part because they feel like this is something that they "ought" to know or "get." And all of that with very little support from the higher-ups in terms of encouraging these folks to get educated and practiced in 2.0, technology, or anything outside traditional library service.
It's the same pressure young libraries feel in response to "you can work with the teens". Some can, some can't--being 20 something has little to do with it. (Technology is slightly different, though.)
Good point. I couldn't work with a teen if I was given a million bucks. (look at how I still count myself as a "twenty something"! That's a lot of "something.") But I know tons of older librarians who can really connect with teens on levels I could never dream of. Technology is indeed different, but the pressure is still there.
"In such an environment (which pretty much describes my institution), the notion of staff learning and taking on something new like Library 2.0 (L2) techniques is practically an insult, because existing staff are struggling just to maintain basic services."

That is why web/library 2.0 tools, techniques, and approaches should be taught as alternative methods for collaboration, organization, and time saving. The tools should not be forced but be related to the roles each individual has within the organization.

Even if the staff does not have time to be engulfed in web 2.0, they do need a minor understanding of the tools and techniques being used. for one, our patrons use these tools. We need to be able to help them (or at least direct them to help). Second, internet users are creating tools to supplement and/or replace library resources and services. We from a competitive intelligence and marketing perspective need to be aware.
I've been resistant to the idea of Library 2.0 in the past, but am becoming more accepting. I've had, I think, good reason for my resistance. The first is the way that the concept is being presented by the Library 2.0 leaders. Many of their utterances suggest that the apocalypse is upon us and we may turn it around only if we embrace their ideas. A recent blog entry from a proponent was entitled "If You Aren't Gaming, You're Losing." While I may feel that gaming is a good idea in libraries (and I do), this approach--do it or suffer the consequences--does nothing to encourage me to start. I become distracted, instead, by the arrogance of the statement. Can this blogger prove that my library is losing out? What if my focus is on social justice for my predominantly immigrant population? In fact, because of rhetorical approaches like this and "so-and-so library gets it!" the us-vs-them situation was created, at first, by the Library 2.0 supporters not by people befuddled by Second Life.

The speakers for Library 2.0 have, to a large degree, come from giant public libraries with substantial budgets and tend to speak only from that lofty height. Unfortunately, not like Moses but like Saint John, delivering Revelation.

And, to return to Second Life. Another reason I've been resistant is the scattershot approach that the Library 2.0 mouthpieces have taken to technology. It's Second Life, MySpace, Twitter, then something else. Without proving efficacy for libraries. Frankly, as someone who remembers his teen years fairly well, the idea of a library having a MySpace account makes me chortle. It would be like my mother wanting to join us at the arcade. Not! "We have to go where they are," I've been told. But not really, we don't. Most of us don't have a branch in the mall, and, yes, the teenagers are still in the malls. But I digress. The proponents of Library 2.0 say that we must do these things, so many of them, without proving that they work.

Yes. Beta Forever. Why not try it? It might work. But, really, isn't it the job of the people telling us to try these things to show that they are effective before we invest time, and, yes, money, into these projects? Moreover, once again, their rhetoric states explicitly that we are obsolete and doomed if we don't simply do as they say. Facts and statistics are an inconvenience that they, the ones who know, shouldn't have to be bothered with.

Finally, I also object to the idea that responsiveness to user needs is something new in libraries. (Yes others have said that and still others have finessed the objection by saying, well it's not new, it's just a new way of doing it without actually saying how it's a new way of doing it without falling back on technology, which Library 2.0 is not supposed to be all about.) "Libraries aren't doing this!" another blogger lamented in spite of the fact that his library was, in fact, doing it. So were any number of other libraries. But once again, we return to the hyperbolic and alienating rhetoric of the L2 evangelists.

Now, it seems that I'm still resistant to L2, but actually, I'm not. I've become enthusiastic about it. I've made peace with the idea that L2 is a useful tool in the librarian's toolbox. It isn't a be-all for a library. Nor does it have to be taken as a whole. I have learned to go to the L2 evangelists for ideas while ignoring their opinions. However, in spite of my new-found enthusiasm, I can fully understand why anyone would be revolted by what they read or hear on the subject.
I'd say that what I've seen isn't so much active resistance, but a combination of indifference, apathy, and "oh my God I'm up to my ass in alligators already and can't get my other work done". And in the library I work in, for most people that is true. There are a few things that could be eliminated in everyone's work (maybe including reading nings and blogs???), but most of us would still be buried in alligators and pirahnas and other evil critters. (No flames from alligator lovers, please)

As has been mentioned, the terminology can be a part of it. I've seen some of the "I don't know what library 2 is and I haven't yet heard a reason I should care". Just yesterday there was a mention of a new library-related ning on one of the LISTSERV lists I manage, and several people asked what a ning was. I gave a fairly bitch reply of "just google it" or, since the URL of the ning was given, "why not just click it and see". Several commented, after visiting it, that they didn't see what it did that the list didn't do. In one sense they were right, in another wrong.

the old honu
Bill, I agree with you in re: the ideas and motivations being as old as librarianship. I am not saying that L2 evangelists are bad people; to the contrary: I know many of them and know that they are good people. However, they let their zeal get in their way and become rhetorical bullies, telling other librarians that, well, really, they just aren't doing enough. And, even, holding specific libraries up to shame for non-"L2" policy decisions. Additionally, they seem to become so obsessed with finding the next new thing, they forget to show how the last new thing contributes to a (metaphorical) return on investment. How, exactly, do pictures of one's library on Flickr benefit the user of the library? (I like to do it because it's fun, not because I expect our users to come to it.)

I have a presentation to give tomorrow on Web 2.0 and how it's principles make producers of users. I've scoured the articles and blogs to find this promised outcome from Library 2.0, but all I've found is that users will tag a library's Flickr photos or will use a library's RSS feed. There aren't enough concrete outcomes to warrant a discussion of Library 2.0 beyond saying "L2 is important" or "L2 cannot be ignored." There is no "we implemented [blogs, wikis, twitter] and our users went crazy for it" other than gaming, but, really, how is gaming different than any other service a library offers? It's an extension of other entertainment services, so it certainly isn't all that new.

And I honestly want to see proof of concept because my job is to teach other librarians about technology and to encourage them to use new technologies. L2 is a good way to do this because it's catch-phrasey and everyone wants to know about it. So, in a way, it is a nice candy-coated pill that helps me push wikis as internal collaborative devices and RSS feeds as a way to keep up with tables of contents from PubMed.
Finally: Oh lord am I long-winded!
Hi Dale, I agree with you to some extent about tone. There’s no reason why some 2.0 evangelists should take a condescending attitude towards their fellow professionals… and maybe there’s a tendency with this topic to do so, or at least to be perceived as doing so. I’m sure I’m as guilty of this as the next overzealous 2.0-er.

However, with many of the resistant librarians I encounter I really do think that they aren’t doing enough. I know that might sound harsh, but the traditional methods my own public library adheres to do not address my needs as a patron… which are absolutely not the same as the needs and expectations of patrons ten years ago. It’s really true. I often find myself discouraged as a patron because my very traditional home library often seems to offer nothing for me. Maybe that’s selfish, but as a taxpayer I feel I’ve earned the right to be a little selfish, and my other consumer experiences have reinforced this feeling. If I weren’t a librarian myself, I wouldn’t use my local library.

Now that doesn’t mean that traditional methods are invalid – certainly some users find their needs and expectations sufficiently filled. But I don’t think that these efforts alone are enough to sustain the library into the 21st century, attracting new users who now have more choices when it comes to the resources they can spend their time on.

As for not seeing results from 2.0 efforts, I would venture to say that in many cases (although definitely not all), libraries can’t expect to see results because they’re not doing a very good job with the 2.0 efforts they have tacked on as a second thought. Sure they have a blog, but often I see library blogs as a near cut and paste from the library newsletter… and who has time for that? Of course I’m not going to subscribe or comment if you have nothing interesting to say and you’re not really engaging me, the patron, in a real conversation. At my house, the library newsletter goes directly into the garbage can with the rest of the junk mail cluttering up my life. Unless your blog is interesting and engaging, I’m not going to bother with that, either.

Oh, no… here I go again with a negative tone…

But I should also point out that very traditional librarians who are resistant to 2.0 ideas and who probably have the same adverse reaction to the overzealous aren’t exactly projecting a great tone, either. Maybe we all have to be more sensitive to one another in order to open up the lines of communication more. :)
I agree with several of your thoughts. I think web 2.0 and library 2.0 is different (and should be) for each library and its user group. There is no perfect scenario. When I speak or teach about web 2.0 tools, I remind everyone that implementing or advertising a tool does no good if you do not know your users first.



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