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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    The last word on Library 2.0

    I have posted recently on Library 2.0 - being, I suppose, a little excited by the apparent potential! It has become a hot, and slightly controversial, topic in the US with - broadly speaking - those for it seeing a Brave New World for libraries in C21, and those against it arguing that libraries do most of that anyway, wouldn't or shouldn't want to do some of the rest, and that some elements of some of the definitions are counter-productive. Some of this lobby also dislike the term itself. One of the problems for the evangelists is the variety of definitions being used - some of which go much further (and imply much greater Web 2.0-style technology) than others.
    Walt Crawford - something of a 'Library Sage' on current issues - has pulled together a review of where the debate stands at the beginning of 2006 in a special issue of Cites & Insights (Volume 6, Number 2: Midwinter 2006). It extends to some 32 pages and just over 26,000 words (his count) but is very definitely worth reading. He deals with Michael Casey (whence the term apparently came), Michael Stephens and Paul Miller (as well as many others) dispassionately and at length - and consequently covers the full spectrum of definitions. His conclusions:
    Library 2.0 encompasses a range of new and not-so-new software methodologies (social software, interactivity, APIs, modular software…) that can and will be useful for many libraries in providing new services and making existing services available in new and interesting ways.
    Library 2.0 also encompasses a set of concepts about library service, most of them not particularly new.
    The term itself is:
    hype, a bandwagon, a confrontation, a negative assertion about existing libraries, their viability, their relevance, and their lack of changes, and—astonishingly—an apparent claim that two months of discussion by a two or three dozen bloggers makes a Movement that is so important that every library, no matter how small, must be discussing it right now, and that every library association should be focusing its next conference on the Movement.
    So, ideas that have potential and hype that demeans potential.
    Read the article, and judge for yourself.

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