The first post on a blog is always so awkward. You want to be brilliant, witty, engaging… and then you look back at it months or years later and cringe. It’s like reading your journal from middle school. On the one hand, you kind of want to burn it to ensure that nobody else ever knows how your brain actually worked at that time (don’t look at me like that – we all behave differently towards our journals than towards actual people). On the other hand, you feel a perverse sort of duty to maintain it as a historical artifact for posterity. Arrogant, perhaps, but we’ve all read famous diaries and thought “what if” about our own.
Or maybe that’s just the result of too many hours spent working in archives. I just can’t quite face the idea of destroying a historical document. Though, I admit, I am strongly tempted to redact (see? nice use of archival word there) those pages that detail the weeks I spent in the throes of my first crush. And don’t ask for details on that. It’s private. Not to mention really, REALLY embarrassing.
I am told that I am to spend the next month or so writing on this blog to explore the ways in which libraries make use of Web 2.0 resources such as blogging, social media, and so forth. I have not yet decided how exactly to approach the topic, but I thought this first post should perhaps offer some sense of what is meant by Web 2.0 and what I think about libraries using it.
Web 2.0 refers to the increasingly interactive nature of the internet. Web 1.0 usually gets described as a more traditional producer-consumer relationship. People created websites that other people read or used. In Web 2.0, the average consumer can produce (see: YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, blogging sites…) and consumers can also interact with each other through the social media or through commenting functions. That’s really it, as I understand it.
As for libraries using Web 2.0, well, I think it’s mostly a good thing in moderation. Some wise person said that everything is good, in moderation, and this is no different. The main library at my alma mater uses Facebook to post announcements about exhibits, programs, and new acquisitions, and also has little interactive activities via the Facebook medium, such as asking questions of the audience or posting little jokes. It’s fun, it doesn’t clutter the inbox, and it’s a useful reminder of what’s going on outside class. My current school does much the same thing, but also uses Twitter.
Other media are not as useful, in my opinion. While in theory I see the point of instant-messaging for reference, I have never found the experience very helpful when compared to the telephone or in-person options. Admittedly, that could be a fluke of my own experience, but the nature of reference means large gaps of silence that can make a patron using an IM program think that maybe they’ve been abandoned or lost the internet connection. It’s also easier for the librarian to become distracted.
This seems to be a theme in my classes at the moment (I’m currently in library school). Yes, the technology is fascinating and useful in some arenas. But the options that are worthwhile in one environment (for example, a hospital) may not be worthwhile in another environment (for example, a library.).
As with everything – moderation.