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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"I don't have time" is code for "I don't see value in this" (IMHO). I think that the answer is just to keep doing what you find useful, and others will join you or not. One thing I'm learning with my KM work is that you'll NEVER get 100% participation in anything you try, and you have to be prepared to work at the margins for quite some time before others get it.

Some day, probably not so far away, you'll write a blog post, or find a collaboration situation that makes sense to someone. And you'll feel like someone just handed you a million dollars.
I truly believe this statement. When anything new comes along it is hard to get people on board. If employers would see the value it would go easier but there is so much information overload happening during the day-to-day of job tasks that asking for one more learning experience sometimes puts people over the edge. BUT, if the technology evolves into everyday use then watch people come on board.
WOW thanks so much. I am teaching a class at the University of Denver called Understanding the Information User and I have assigned the class a Web and Library 2.0 paper to do. I know a bit about it but your post was GREAT! I am trying to get my students to join the ning so that they can ask their own questions. Thanks
I am one of Beth's MLIS students at the U. of Denver, and have been working at a public library for 7 years. I posted my own discussion question last night, asking what libraries are doing to serve their teen patrons, for whom Web/Library 2.0 are natural in their openness and collaboration. I'd love your comments, and you may become famous in our class because I might quote you in my paper!
I think there is great wisdom in the above posts that say, basically, "Build it and they will come". It goes against human nature to be forced to do anything, especially something that appears to be threatening, so this will gradually seep into our daily library and personal lives, and someday seem commonplace, and most people will wonder what all the hubbubb was about.
I wanted to know if I could use your email post about what library 2.0 is for my class at the University of Denver? I have asked all my students to subscribe to this forum but I don't know if they will. While the length is a bit long I got so much out of it.
Hi Tracy,
I work for Kern County Library and we are trying to set up the Learning 2.0 experience for staff. We are all in a similar situation, heard about but don't know exactly how to get it up and running. I think your email describes the tools and applications very well, nice intro.

Like you, I become the default electronic resources instigator here simply by asking "why don't we do this..." but I don't know much. I do believe that we need to have a more visible and active web presence via FaceBook, blogs, and Flickr for advertising our programs and services and use IM to provide more services to the community. Getting it all going is the hard part asI too have noticed a significant lack of enthusiasm in key people in the computer support area.

So what have you done next? Have you set up tutorials?
Hi Tracy,
What a great description! -- I love your staff email ... I too have been using the "expression" with staff and students for over a year now and find that while some faces go blank, many of our teachers are coming on side, however convincing the Administration that we are entering a new phase in teaching and learning is far more difficult. I might try your approch and send explanatory emails ... thanks.
what percentage of library staff do you think are uninterested in library 2.0?
A very nice summary, and I think it will be helpful for those of us who hear these terms flying about but don't really know what they are. I especially liked the fact that you pointed out that libraries are all about pointing people to information, and since so many people work with the 2.0 technologies, libraries need to know how to find information with these tools. For example, I've had several patrons want to find things on Facebook, and I've had to stumble around to help them - I was unprepared.
What I really wanna know is this: Can I steal your email? Like Beth and others mentioned, you do such a nice job of making the concepts accessible, I'd like to be able to share it with our staff. Oh yeah. I'm sorta partly in charge of a Web 2.0 training program for our libraries that we're running over the summer. So. If I heap loads of praise on you, um, can I copy off your paper?
This is a very helpful summary of Library 2.0 and I think the approach you have taken to send brief, "hit and run" emails to all library staff is an excellent idea. I am participating in (and benefiting from) the learning / training aspect of our Library 2.0 program at Contra Costa Library. I think it's important to remember that libraries and library staff need to become knowledgeable about web 2.0 and library 2.0 because many people are using these technologies.
Hi Tracey,
We're doing our own version of Web 2.0 at the CCC Library, and right now the trainers are working kinks out of the activities. I'm looking forward to seeing how it's met with coworkers who have already voiced reluctance. I would like to see library staff keep an open minds when it comes to this because much of it is helpful, such as and facebook or wikis. It would be nice to have staff on the same page when it comes to web information and sharing.



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