How to find out the best combination of web 2.0 tools and their suitable Library applications:
“Provide the users what they want” seems to be the battle cry of Librarians influenced by “Customer Relationship Management”. It is true that Librarians want their customers to be visiting their libraries 24/7 at least virtually. Yes every access to the Libraries’ web site and digital resources is a visit to be counted.
However, the objective appears to be to “match the tools to the users”. I am of the opinion that it is not the correct approach. The correct approach should be to match the web 2.0 tools to Library applications and Information services offered by the Libraries which are matched to the users’ information needs.
Though libraries have served and serve as meeting places for various social purposes, the primary objective of libraries is to attend to intellectual weaknesses and gaps in the knowledge of the users. (We Librarians are “Knowledge Doctors” !).
In other words, providing free social networking facilities using web 2.0 tools to attract the younger generation of users should not be the primary focus, rather, they should be attracted by the wonderfully selected and organized presentation of all types of resources, matching their current and future information needs, made accessible using appropriate tools, allowing them to participate in the development process by feedback, giving suggestions and indicating their changing information needs.
This is not different from what we heard some time ago – “Content is King”. Getting feedback from users also is not new !
Libraries are exploring Web 2.0 technologies (wikis, blogs, Flickr, facebook, RSS feeds, Podcasting, web casting, Social Bookmarking, etc.) and are encouraging staff to create innovative applications that are related to library resources, services and functions or adapt existing library applications to make use of Web 2.0 tools.
To begin with, it would be better to allow the staff imagination to go wild, for a specific time period, say 3 months, and then fix a particular date and time for a seminar asking each one to make a 5 to 10, or at the most 15 minutes presentation.
To plan the program (agenda) I would ask each to send me a five to ten line description of the application perhaps a week earlier to the seminar date. I would ask them to prefix the description with Expressive Subject Headings denoting the Library Function or Information Resource or Information Service to which the application is directed to. I will not group the presentation on the basis of the Web 2.0 technology but rather on the basis of the Library Application.
For example Under the heading:
ACQUISITION > RESOURCE SELECTION (BOOK SELECTION) > SELECTION OF COSTLY
RESOURCE > OPINION FROM PATRONS > Using BLOG.
Description will be:
How to use Blog to seek opinion for Book selection / Resource selection, if the cost is more than 100 dollars, is the main theme of this presentation. ... We used the ... We set a period of two weeks to get
comments and close the blog for analysis / review ...
Each of the subject headings will start with the Name of the Department / Section / Unit of the Library
wherever possible and give the sub-ordinate headings.
REFERENCE AND INFORMATION SERVICES > ALERT SERVICES > GENERAL ALERT SERVICE >/ LATEST NEWS using RSS (automatic information feed)
USER / PATRON EDUCATION > LIBRARY INSTRUCTION > LIBRARY TOUR > WEBCAST
All the presentations would be grouped in such a way that all those that tackle the same problem / service / library technique, would be together and the seminar would be held with open discussion.
The presentations by staff at the seminar can include the Library applications not only developed by the staff but also those tried or most impressed with, but done in other Libraries.
The presented applications would be critically examined / analyzed and evaluated. The purpose of this analysis is to find out applications suitable to meet the information needs of users, and the most suitable web 2.0 technology for each of the suitable ones. The presentations would be evaluated not on the basis of the skill of the presenter, but on the suitability of the application. One or two of the "examiners" would be designated mainly to raise issues concerned with safety and security and bring to light all the negative points, upholding "Why we should not adopt this" as the Devil’s advocates. This is not to stop us from going forward rather it is to make us set in place in advance, the precautionary measures necessary to avoid any misuse by any one (moderated, avoid close-up view in graphics, do not give personal identification in photographs...). A five star rating (1 - 5 stars) could be assigned to each library application on the basis of suitability (appropriateness, perceived acceptance, usability and participation by users; ease of development, updating and maintenance; cost of resources including staff time; and safety, security and misuse avoidance measures). A Matrix / Table of web 2.0 techs VS Library Applications could be developed on the basis of the evaluation to find out which technology has more cluster of applications with high suitability star rating. That /those technology/ technologies and application (s) would be adopted and implemented with high priority and all interested staff would be trained with the under taking that they would be ready to take on the responsibility at the time of need.
I would appreciate your comments.