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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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    Friday, January 06, 2006

    Meaning(s) of Library 2.0

    I read the 'Library Stuff' piece on Library 2.0, and followed a few of the links back, and wondered if this was the same Library 2.0 as I had blogged about in December! I did like the quote from John Blyberg to the effect that, "if we’re arguing over semantics, we’ve been derailed", but I think it goes deeper than that. Like 'Folksonomy' - or any other coined term - it is meaningless until it has become accepted, and during the gestation (perhaps that should be 'guesstation') period there is scope for misunderstanding or a shrinking or expansion of the definition. At least 'Library 2.0' has the right root - the suffix, I suppose, is meant to suggest something more, a new version of what we already have. Note that 'new version' - not a replacement for the old, but an enhancement, that goes further, does more.
    Library Stuff and the ALA TechSource conversation with Michael Casey both suggested more interactivity and more outreach. As if that were all! I'll hold my hand up and admit to not having done a lot of research on this but I thought there was more to Library 2.0 than that! At the very least Library 2.0 is an implied extension from Web 2.0. In my previous commentary, I quoted from two pieces by Talis' Paul Miller. The concept of Libraries without Walls has been around for several years - there's even a conference - and Library 2.0 has to be more than that, more than offering a library web site that is accessible by anyone, from anywhere; and more than responding to users' needs.
    If the Web 2.0 philosophy is one of delivering a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, and consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, Library 2.0 implies that users anywhere, doing anything on their workstation, automatically (?) receive input from a library/information service. This may be from one (local) library or from several aroundthe globe. You may search for a book on Amazon, and be told that it is in your local library; or book availability from within a virtual learning environment. Amazon already offers 'social prompts': "other readers of this book have purchased...".
    Paul Miller, in his Talis White Paper, suggests:
    relevant aspects of that library experience should be reproduced wherever and whenever the user requires them, without any need to visit a separate web site for the library.
    That's my understanding of Library 2.0 - it goes a long way beyond the definition used at the start of the Library Stuff piece:
    Library 2.0 simply means making your library's space (virtual and physical) more interactive, collaborative, and driven by community needs...
    Perhaps I am dreaming of stuff that is not technologically possible, something at the other end of a road that starts with making a library's space more driven by user needs, but this post is just another attempt at definition. Let's not be derailed by semantics, but lets all try and talk the same language!

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