What 2.0 Means to Me

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 – 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?

14 thoughts on “What 2.0 Means to Me”

  1. I take mild exception to the assertion that my overview was “largely critical” of Library 2.0, unless you’re agreeing with the library gurus who feel it’s appropriate to dismiss out of hand any criticism of the name or the concepts. I tried d*n hard to be fair to all involved, and I believe I succeeded.

    Otherwise…well, you know, I did not conclude that Library 2.0 is hype. Quite the opposite.. I did conclude that “Library 2.0” is hype. And went to a lot of trouble to differentiate between the concepts and the term.

  2. Didn’t mean to offend; I read your piece (and it was a very informative read) as being critical, but, you’re right, I was referring to criticism of the term (and the way in which some have couched their use of the term) rather than criticism of the basic idea.

    And, by the way, I really didn’t mean to suggest that I didn’t appreciate your piece simply because I said I found it to be “largely critical” – I like “critical,” esp. when attached to the word “thinking”.

    Let me cite the piece of your work right above the one I chose:

    “With luck, skill, and patience, those new services and ongoing changes will continue to make libraries more interesting, more relevant, and better supported. I’m all in favor of that Library 2.0.”

    Me, too.

  3. Sorry; I read “largely critical” in its critical-as-negative sense. Since I think I agree with most everything you say in the post itself, I almost didn’t add a comment.

  4. There are also some interesting possibilities with integrating “wiki” into information literacy. For example, building a collective research guide based upon information literacy concepts and methods.

    I have been working closely with a member of the English faculty over the past few months, and we are experimenting with having her class come into the library at multiple points in the semester. This kind of “luxurious” schedule allows us the opportunity to include elements like gaming, video tutorials, and wiki/collaborative work into the information literacy sessions. Our goal is to make information literacy learning more interactive, which seems to be at the heart of Library (and “Blended” Librarian) 2.0. This definitely requires some careful scheduling and commitment from both the librarian and instructor, but thus far the results have been generally positive.

  5. Scott – I am glad that you have added an important dimension to the lib 2.0 discussion – one that I felt was missing all along – the user education dimension. Many of the visions or views about lib 2.0 have focused on technology and largely ignored how user education occurs in a lib 2.0 environment. I don’t know if blended librarianship is a form of lib 2.0 – it certainly emphasizes the integration of library – in all capacities – into the teaching and learning process and places great emphasis on the importance of design in that developing the mechanisms for facilitating integration. I’d rather not get into the labels game. I just see it as something we need to do to keep ourselves from being further marginalized. I promote blended librarianship as one approach, among others, to achieving the goal.

  6. Scott, the link to Elmborg and Hook’s book isn’t right. Try this one.

    I hadn’t thought of equating the shift from teaching to learning to the shift from 1.0 to 2.0 – and I’m not sure I still do – but it’s an interesting take. In an earlier post, Patti Iannuzzi made the comment that library instruction =/= information literacy. It seems to me that’s very apposite here. What you describe as 1.0 has been passe long before the concept of Web (or library) 2.0 came along.

    Which makes me realize… the polarizing language that Walt objects to surrounding all things 2.0 is rather like the way I felt when librarians “discovered” information literacy a few years ago and described it as something totally new and revolutionary. Which was a little disconcerting to those who have been doing it for a long, long time. See Evan Farber’s “College Libraries and the Teaching/Learning Process: A 25-Year Reflection” in JAL, 25.3 (May 1999): 170-77. Plus ca change…

    Ameet, I also love it when we can have an ongoing relationship with a course. Usually, when I’ve done it, it’s to offer different help as students’ research progresses – but sounds as if you’re exploring many varied approaches to information. Sounds fascinating.

  7. Thanks Barbara. I attended a conference in Chicago back in December called “Gaming, Learning and Libraries” and it really inspired me to explore the potential for gaming and information literacy. There hasn’t been much done in this area, but I am planning to begin creating some simple games to make this kind of learning more interactive.

  8. This is a very educational discussion. Thank you. I have just been asked to create an online information literacy course because the college is about to make it a graduation requirement. Most students will meet this requirement through other courses but another option has been requested from the library.

    So, is there a place for information literacy in a classroom setting that is not part of another discipline-related class in a Web 2.0 library?

  9. Scott

    I’d agree that a definition of Library 2.0 that sees it as defined solely by advances in technology is to miss much of the point.

    Advances in, and increased adoption of, a number of technologies are certainly an important aspect of Library 2.0, but simply because of the interactions and opportunities that they then make possible.

    The whole notion of ‘the library everywhere’ is one that I have been pushing as an important element of Library 2.0 from the outset; taking the library and its services out of the library, and giving them to people in meaningful ways whereever they happen to be. And NOT simply to then draw them back into some library space, but so that they can actually get on with doing what they want to do.

    Your educational examples are interesting, and quite similar to something I wrote last month in “Library 2.0: the challenge of disruptive innovation”, available from http://www.talis.com/resources/.

    ‘What good librarian would choose to hand truth down from the shelves to those who then passively consume it, rather than engage in a dialogue with participative lifelong learners? Is it not preferable to help users build their understanding of the world around them with reference to a wealth of experiences from across formats, media, contexts, and their analogue and digital manifestations?’ (p. 7)

  10. Paul – thanks for the link! I had read the earlier Talis piece, but not this one. I guess I continue to see the Talis focus as being on IT (which makes sense), but I’d agree that, conceived broadly, “Library 2.0” could be seen as a “disruptive” idea. The question is what it disrupts.

    Speaking off the top of my head at 6 am, I’d say that one thing it disrupts is our perception of the nature of professional expertise. The notion of “folksonomy,” for example, challenges the informational professional’s recognized expertise in the description and classification of information (just as the Web, as a whole, challenged his or her recognized expertise in the location of discrete bits of information – see Joe Janes on the impact of the Web on “ready reference”). The next question is what we do about it.

    Which, again, speaking quickly on an early morning, is to become evangelists (if I may appropriate your title) for the ongoing relevance of our professional expertise in a Web (1.0, 2.0, or whatever version comes in 2 years) environment, in a information-infused environment, and in a technology-enhanced teaching environment. The nature of the “2.0” argument is one that lends itself to our constantly re-defining and re-asserting (in collaboration with our users, partners, and students) what the information professional brings to the table – both in terms of designing and delivering platforms that allow for resource discovery and access (2.0 OPACs, federated searching), but also in terms of contributing to campus-wide programs that benefit from our expertise in the design and delivery of other public and technical services.

    As Walt said, the key issue is our remaining relevant and making the case for that relevance in such a way that we are better supported by our parent organizations and communities (I’m paraphrasing). Use of “2.0” technology doesn’t make us relevant, but serious discussions of the nature of what we bring to the table across campus as information professionals will. And, I think that the “2.0” discussion can help us to do that as long as we don’t look at it solely as a discussion about interactive technologies or, as Walt has said, as a bandwagon onto which we should automatically jump.

  11. Kenley,

    I would suggest something along the lines of “Library Skills 2.0.” In my experience at the community college level (College of DuPage), a majority of our students are unaware of even the most basic library skills.

    In fact, one of the instruction librarians here even teaches a class called “Research Basics for Students.” I would think that this type of session would be applicable to all disciplines, since it focuses on fundamental skills (i.e. searching the catalog, accessing databases from home, and so on). We also stress the universality of learning these skills to students; the fact that LOC classification and OPACs (for example) are used across the country. I think that gives some students and patrons a sense of empowerment.

  12. “In a “2.0″ approach, information literacy instruction is integrated across the curriculum.”

    Not to be critical but when did this notion become “2.0”? Everything “assessment” that you describe is being done–and has been done for years now. Do a cursory search of the library lit. and you’ll find a plethora of articles relating to assessment, integration, faculty-library collaboration, etc.

    Calling that 2.0 is akin to a company putting the same product into a new package.

    “information and ideas flowing in both directions – from the library to the user and from the user to the library”

    Again, have libraries not been doing this for quite some time? Is this not something that a good library administrator should strive for? I know mine does and he doesn’t call it 2.0.

    Maybe I’m missing the point here but if that is 2.0 then I might be inclined to agree that the term is hype.


  13. “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”

    I’m not sure what type of IL instruction Scott Walter has been providing, but our classes focus on student assignments, take the class into the library to learn the LC numbers, and teach students how to critically evaluate database articles and websites.

    And all without ‘Web 2.0’.

    I agree with Brad Matthies that calling what we IL instructors have been doing for years ‘Web 2.0’ is to put the same product into a different package. Why do librarians need hype to market what we’ve been doing? Our product is growing, changing, shifting and improving constantly, without needing a “Web 2.0” label to provide bells and whistles.


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