The Problem With Models
Can You Have It Both Ways?

A Logical Definition of "Library 2.0"

I've generally found Michael Habib to be one of the more thoughtful bloggers posting about Library 2.0, so I was eager to read his Master's paper after he posted it a couple of weeks ago.  He's done a particularly fine job.

He comes up with a definition of "Library 2.0" that is logical, internally consistent, and that deftly avoids the problems that I've discussed in my two recent posts.  The essence of his definition is that the "2.0" part of the term is not a version number -- rather, it's a signifier pointing to Web 2.0.    That leads him to a nicely succinct definition:

Library 2.0 describes a subset of library services designed to meet user needs caused by the direct and peripheral effects of Web 2.0.

He amplifies that definition somewhat later in the paper, by specifying what he sees as the essential elements of Web 2.0. 

In this definition, "Library 2.o" does not indicate a new model of library services, but simply indicates that when we use the term we're talking specifically about how librarians can best respond to the impact that Web 2.0 technologies have had (and continue to have) on the communities that libraries participate in.   He then describes a theoretical model for how we might discuss those impacts and translate them into opportunities for improved services.

If the library community were to accept Habib's definition of Library 2.0, then I think it could be a useful term -- but that's a big "if".     The "n.nn" convention for numbering successive versions of software is pretty well entrenched; Habib's definition requires that we ignore that contextual history in this case and read "Library 2.0" not as a 2.0 version of Library, but merely as Library in relationship to Web 2.0.  I'm doubtful that can actually be accomplished, but it's still the most coherent definition I've seen.

At any rate, regardless of how one feels about the term, the paper is definitely worth reading.  It's not very long (44 pages), it's well written, and it's full of provocative thinking.   And if his definition did become the generally accepted understanding of the term, then I guess I'd be able to live with it.



I can actually deal with that definition, and if it was used in that way in the majority of liblogs, the term probably wouldn't irritate me to the extent it does.

I still want to abolish Librarian 2.0, however, which makes me feel like I'm a piece of software just out of beta.


Glad you found this--if you hadn't posted about it, I would've commented that the one person chiefly responsible for getting so many of us all riled up isn't a librarian...

it's Tim O'Reilly.

That he and his came up with 'Web 2.0' in 2004, and that it took many of us until 2006 to get around to struggling with the awkward-at-best 'Library 2.0' idea in direct response to Web 2.0 is a bigger problem to me.

Though I commend those who coined it for sticking their necks out and challenging convention, I don't buy the concept of 'Library 2.0' either, mainly because it's such a mixed metaphor the onlineish versus face-to-faceish parts of which are hard to reconcile, but I do believe as I'll continue to say tirelessly that how our users behave online and what they expect there should motivate us to make things as consistent and easy as possible in a language they can understand and in a way in which they themselves can *participate* in ways we've never allowed them to do. If doing that complies with 'Web 2.0', then fine, we can be buzzword-compliant.

The main issue that I see among some of my colleagues these days is the idea that we start behaving less like traditional libraries with arcane controlled vocabularies and searching techniques that expect users to come to us and speak our language, and more like the rest of the Internet culture that we joined years ago but is eating so many of our lunches by making things easy and DIY, HYW (Do It Yourself, How You Want).

But that's a whole 'nother thread...



Library 2.0 and web 2.0 keeps my attention for the last year or so. I think this definition covers pretty much of the whole library 2.0 thing. Sometimes I have doubts about my L2 understandings and look it up again. At the moment I'm writing an article for our library magazine. Thanks for this good post!

Greetings, Tom(from the netherlands)

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