Just when I thought I had a good handle on where we should be heading with library 2.0 services, the report from OCLC called “Sharing, Privacy and Trust in Our Networked World” made me stop and think and even revise my ideas.
The report defines social networking as “doing something more than advancing communications between individuals, driving commerce or speeding connectivity. It is redefining roles, muddying the waters between audience and creator, rules and relationships, trust and security, private and public. And the roles are changing, not just for a few but for everyone, and for every service, on the Web.”
The report advises us that if our goal is to create a social library, if we focus on broadcast services such as RSS feeds, we are likely going in the wrong direction. RSS, as good as it is, just “perpetuates the traditional concept of the library as a supplier of information, not a place for idea generation and exchange.” Simple techniques such as adding a “my favorites” or a “wish list” would go a long way towards providing library users with the interaction they find elsewhere.
Many people think of a social library as a library of traditional services enhanced by a “set of social tools – wikis, blogs, mashups and podcasts.”
What was interesting to me, is that the report writers said that after working on the report they revised their concept of a social library.
Becoming engaged in the social web is not about learning new services or mastering new technologies. To create a checklist of social tools for librarians to learn, or to generate a “top ten” list of services to implement on the current library Web site, would be shortsighted.
The social Web is not being built by augmenting traditional Web sites with new tools. And a social library will not be created by implementing a list of social software features on our current sites. The social Web is being created by opening the doors to the production of the Web, dismantling the current structures and inviting users in to create their content and establish new rules.
Opening the doors to mass participation can be messy. But it often creates “the most exciting venues for collaboration, creativity, community building – and transformation.”
Opening the doors to mass participation also works towards the mission of the library in that it provides our customers with the joint ownership they want in their web experience and gives them a reason to return to the library website. By inviting participation, the connection between the customer and the library changes, as does their perception of the library.