The “Library 2.0″ tag appears in this month’s Technically Speaking column by Andrew Pace, and I was struck by the interpretation he promotes of “Library 2.0″ as being solely defined by advances in technology. I won’t try to summarize Walt Crawford’s lengthy and largely critical review of the Library 2.0 discussion, but I will note a key piece of Pace’s column:
“Put simply, the 2.0 moniker denotes a next generation of Web technology.”
I disagree, or, rather, I agree that this is a simple way of putting it – too simple, really.
While most of the discussion around Library 2.0 has noted its connection to the (equally arcane) Web 2.0 discussion, to me the key is interaction and willingness to enhance library services in collaboration with our users. In the Wikipedia entry, we find “Library 2.0″ defined, in part, as “information and ideas flowing in both directions â€“ from the library to the user and from the user to the library” and this means a lot more than using blogs, OPACs or portals that allow users to tag favorite works, etc. – it means that the library is an open system, i.e., one that is characterized by permeable boundaries between the library and its user communities and local environment and one that is characterized by dynamic change (Birnbaum, 1988).
So, what does Library 2.0 mean to me? Let’s think about instruction.
In a “1.0″ approach, information literacy instruction is wholly library-centered. Librarians identify instructional objectives based solely on their definition of what students need to know, and all instruction is provided by librarians in an environment largely divorced from the classroom. There is little attention given to student evaluation of the instruction provided, and little follow-up by the librarian based on the feedback provided. Now, don’t get me wrong, you can provide a lot of valuable instruction this way, and your students may even learn a lot of useful information skills (although you may not have much evidence of student learning beyond attendance statistics), but it’s not the future of instructional service in libraries.
In a “2.0″ approach, information literacy instruction is integrated across the curriculum. The library serves as an instructional center on campus and as the hub for a campus-wide commitment to preparing students with the information skills needed for success in the 21st century (see the role of the Writing Center, and then read Elmborg & Hook, 2005). Assessment of student learning benefits from its integration into campus activities that foster input and interaction from student and faculty library users, including: (1) course assignments designed to demonstrate student information skills; (2) portfolio assessments that include assignments chosen for their demonstration of student mastery of information competencies; and (3) end-of-course assessments of student learning and student satisfaction (“Senior Surveys”) administered by academic programs or campus offices of institutional research. And, yes, you might meet those goals using an online course environment, a Web-based learning object, and an interactive tutorial, but those are simply the tools.
Likewise, it is very “2.0″ to integrate information literacy instruction into campus educational opportunities outside the classroom, e.g., residence hall and Greek life education, and as part of staff development and faculty development programs sponsored by units such as Human Resources and the Center for Teaching Excellence. Both foster integration, interaction, user feedback, and permeable boundaries between library and other campus services – the very heart of the “Library 2.0″ concept; the heart of the library as “open system.”
Finally, “Library 2.0″ means that we’re committed to continual improvement, which strikes me as a much better way to identify that commitment than the more familiar, IT-based, phrase “Beta is forever.” I’ve been through enough bad OPAC upgrades (and you all know who you are!) to have a visceral reaction against the idea that “beta is forever,” but I’m perfectly comfortable saying that I (like the services I provide) am a work in progress, and a work that can always be improved through interaction with my peers and my users and through integration with broader services and initiatives embraced by my campus. Some of those services will be technology-based (e.g., a information literacy Weblog that I can use to alert faculty interested in the integration of ILI into their courses about new resources and questions to ask), but others are wholly human (e.g., working with a curriculum committee to identify end-of-program learning objectives for graduating students as relate to information skills).
Commitment to improve, commitment to assess, commitment to integrate, commitment to communicate – that’s my Library 2.0. I get there using the newest information technology and tried-and-true human technology. I don’t agree with Crawford’s conclusion that “Library 2.0 is hype,” but neither do I cede the notion entirely to those engaged primarily in discussions of technology. How about you?