Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Where will the next generation Web take libraries?

The OCLC newsletter "NextSpace" has published an interesting piece on how libraries might change with the next generation of Web development, called "Web 2.0: Where will it take libraries?"

Tom Storey overstates his case when he writes that with this next generation of web development, " the Web moves from simply being sites and search engines to a shared network space that drives work, research, education, entertainment and social activities—essentially everything people do." Of course he means everything we do online. Admittedly a big part of my work life and a considerable part of my life, but by no means everything.

Other contributors make thought provoking points though. Here are some quotes.

"We need to focus our efforts not on teaching research skills but on eliminating the barriers that exist between patrons and the information they need, so they can spend as little time as possible wrestling with lousy search interfaces and as much time as possible actually reading and learning. Obviously, we’ll help and educate patrons when we can, and when they want us to, and the more we can integrate our services with local curricula, the better. But if our services can’t be used without training, then it’s the services that need to be fixed—not our patrons. " Rick Anderson.

"This librarian bases all planning and proposals for services, materials and outreach on user needs and wants. User-centered libraries breakdown barriers and allow users access wherever they are: home, work, commuting, school, or at the library. This involves users from the get go in planning and launching services based on their needs. " Michael Stephens.

"Without a firm foundation in the mission and goals of the institution, new technologies are not implemented for the sake of coolness and status. " Michael Stephens.

"Libraries should welcome the submission of reviews, assignment of keywords (“tagging”), addition of scholarly commentary, and other forms of user participation. ... Libraries should get much greater mileage out of the metadata they create. For example, if geographic names embedded in the middle of subject headings are mapped to latitude and longitude coordinates, it becomes possible to present users with graphical means of searching by place, new ways of easily asking for materials about nearby places, and hierarchical browsing by place." John Riemer.

" Libraries are not just collections of documents and books, they are conversations, they are convocations of people, ideas, and artifacts in dynamic exchange. Libraries are not merely in communities, they are communities " Wendy Schultz.

1 comment:

AmyB said...

Anderson is confusing "research skills" with "library bureaucracy", and it gives me little confidence in his opinion that he can't tell the difference between the two.

It sounds great to say "We need to focus our efforts not on teaching research skills but on eliminating the barriers that exist between patrons and the information they need", but the patrons in question are college undergraduates and one thing they really need to learn is how to develop effective strategies for independent research.

In fact, one big difficulty in teaching research skills is that students are far too eager to jump ahead to a "reading and learning" phase that is not going to do them much good using the typical assortment of random information sources that they find without good research skills.