Maybe it’s because I only finished grad school last year and the whole 2.0 thing was all we read/talked about for two years, but I’m just a smidge burned out on it all. Not the technology parts, but the whole “what is library 2.0?” debate. I guess I just don’t care if libraries are 2.0, or maybe I take the tact that libraries have always been 2.0. The thing is, librarians worth their salt are always out there discovering new tools and resources, even if they just stumble upon it in the course of their usual work, and trying it out on their patrons. Good librarians are always debating the relative merits of hot new resources. What seems to change is the stuff we stumble on. Instead of a new magazine or journal, it’s a new tech tool or a wiki. Or, really, it’s all of those things. I know librarians who have been recommending blogs and wikis and things to patrons since long before they knew that wikis were a big deal, or that a wiki was what the tool was called. Or even more, that librarians recommending wikis was a big deal. They found a resource and they shared it, isn’t that what we do?

The whole focus on being a 2.0 library has actually taken a lot of focus away from librarians being the 2.0 folks they already were. We’re all in this mad scramble to get on board and use all this hip new stuff and we’re bypassing the whole process that we used to use to determine whether the tool was appropriate or useful to our patron base. Remember when we used to come across something, ponder it’s value and uses, and then offer it up if we thought our patrons might benefit from it. Remember that? Isn’t that kind of what people come to libraries for? It’s not just the books or the movies or the computers. It’s access to someone who has done the research so you don’t have to. It’s access to resources that you know have been combed through. Isn’t that part of it?

And, in all this scramble, a lot of our basic services are suffering or not getting enough attention. For example, how many poorly designed library websites are out there with a blog and a Flickr stream attached? It is not really our job to be hip for the sake of being hip. That energy would have been much better spent on making sure the website was basic, standards compliant, and usable by all the patrons with the desire to use it. This basic building block is being ignored in web design in the rush to have this fancy stuff usable on the library web presence. I worry, what else are we bypassing? It was just so much easier when we folded this new information into our work rather than focusing so hard on now, NOW!!!

I think that things like the 23 Things is a great way to crash course librarians who have not, for whatever reason, had a good entry into these tools. But let’s all try to remember that we are shopping around here. Our patrons look to us to comb through all this stuff and offer them what we think they will use and maybe even just what they will like. But not every community is the same, and if you’re not in a community that cares about your library blog, than we shouldn’t feel like we have to use that piece for the library.

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First off, I am surprised and delighted at how many people are participating in this program. I have had to create a new folder in Google Reader to handle all the 23 Things traffic. Awesome.

Secondly, next week we get into RSS and the like, which is where my beloved Google Reader fits in. It’s an inbox for my blogs, for those of you unfamiliar (for now) with feed readers. New posts show up as unread, and I read as I get the time and never forget to visit one. For those of you who are already beginning to feel like there are too many blogs to visit and you’re losing your grip on how to manage the time and energy, this will make you sigh and relax. I read on a few folks blogs that they were nervous about RSS. It’s a beautiful thing that will simplify your life in untold ways. Promise.

Third, I just cataloged a bunch of beginner Linux and Web Design books for my library. I insisted that we buy them even though we do not have anything even loosely approximating technology courses of study here. My argument for them was largely based on the fact that web design is fun once you get a handle on it. Also, as a low-res school, we really need to promote these tools because most of the business these students do with the school is conducted online. Email is not really a proper place for a 75 page packet with photos. This kind of thing crashes servers and whatnot. Since this 23 things program started up and soooo many people hoped on board, I feel even better about these purchases. It proves that, as Costner would say, if you build it they will come. Most of these books are already checked out…even the Ubuntu book, and checked out by an unlikely suspect!

Lastly, I have rolled into another fatalistic mood about our ILS. Seriously, I hate it. I have put in 5 trouble tickets to their IT department already this week (we upgraded last week, which always, ALWAYS causes problems). I would never say that they aren’t trying their hardest or that their system isn’t right for some other institution, but when I start pitching to totally replace the system (as the Systems Librarian, evidently I can do that!), I keep 2 things in mind:

  1. Use the right tool for the job – this system is designed for a closed-stack library with on-campus patrons. We are an open-stack library with off-campus patrons. What with there being so many hybrids of the two systems, and so many low-res/distance only colleges now, surely there is a more appropriate tool for us.
  2. I wouldn’t torch my paycheck – we pay them too much money to have this many issues. If this were a new car, we would have called Lemon Law by now! I am a budget minded person, and my paycheck has to cover a lot of ground. Whenever I think I can save money and receive at least the same level of service I am used to, I do it. So why don’t we do this in our libraries? We constantly let these people torch our budgets.

And there it is. The big problem with number 2, of course, is finding the time to research all the options. I get accused of being tech savvy all the time, but it’s relative. To someone who has never had a cell phone or email account, I probably am. To computer programers and network administrators, whose language this stuff is written in, I am cute because I try so hard but I only half know what I’m talking about. But, I learn the language more every day. And I have people all around me who can explain terms and ideas to me if I simply ask.

I guess the point of that long ramble is choose the tools that work best for you, get your money’s worth, and use all the people who know better for your collective education. Gee, that sounds easy, I don’t know what I’m so worried about.

ps-that last bit was sarcasm, I was making a face, but you can’t see it ;)