Monday, September 07, 2009

Library 2.0

Found this link over at School Librarian In Action: The Future Of Libraries, With Or Without Books. It's related to my previous post about a school library that went all digital, and also talks about the current evolution that libraries--and librarians--are undergoing in this digital age. An excerpt:

The stereotypical library is dying -- and it's taking its shushing ladies, dank smell and endless shelves of books with it.

Books are being pushed aside for digital learning centers and gaming areas. "Loud rooms" that promote public discourse and group projects are taking over the bookish quiet. Hipster staffers who blog, chat on Twitter and care little about the Dewey Decimal System are edging out old-school librarians.

And that's just the surface. By some accounts, the library system is undergoing a complete transformation that goes far beyond these image changes.

Authors, publishing houses, librarians and Web sites continue to fight Google's efforts to digitize the world's books and create the world's largest library online. Meanwhile, many real-world libraries are moving forward with the assumption that physical books will play a much-diminished or potentially nonexistent role in their efforts to educate the public.

Some books will still be around, they say, although many of those will be digital. But the goal of the library remains the same: To be a free place where people can access and share information.

"The library building isn't a warehouse for books," said Helene Blowers, digital strategy director at the Columbus [Ohio] Metropolitan Library. "It's a community gathering center."

Think of the change as a Library 2.0 revolution -- a mirror of what's happened on the Web.

This shift means the role of the librarian -- and their look -- is also changing.

In a world where information is more social and more online, librarians are becoming debate moderators, givers of technical support and community outreach coordinators.

They're also no longer bound to the physical library, said Greenwalt, of the library in Skokie, Illinois. Librarians must venture into the digital space, where their potential patrons exist, to show them why the physical library is still necessary, he said.

"I came into libraries and it wasn't about books," said Peter Norman, a graduate student in library and information science at Simmons College in Boston who says he's most interested in music and technology. "Sure I love to read. I read all the time. I read physical books. But I don't have the strange emotional attachment that some people possess."

"If the library is going to turn into a place without books, I'm going to evolve with that too," he said.

Click here to read the whole article.

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