David Rothman needn't be uneasy about disagreeing with me -- I do it frequently myself. He suggests that I'm being too hard on the Casey/Savastinuk L2 article. He may be right. I certainly don't really believe that C&S intended to say that there was a view of librarianship that was opposed to reaching users or seeking user-input. But what I'm trying to get at here, with my critique of the term "Library 2.0" is not about what they intended to say, but rather about what they did say.
Many years ago, when I met Germaine Greer, she gave a brilliant extemporaneous talk that remains one of the most thrilling performances I've ever seen. She was talking about the power of language and about how damaging and then healing it can be, and how "every time you use a word, it carries with it the weight of every other time that word has ever been spoken." Words exist within a web of language and carry with them a context and connotations that may not be what the speaker intended. Witness the current furor over Michael Richards' use of the word "nigger" or whether or not the situation in Iraq is a "civil war" or whether what we're helplessly witnessing in Darfur is "genocide." These debates matter because the words carry powerful associations that can't be escaped.
So you may not intend to call up a dysfunctional Library 1.0 model when you start eagerly talking about Library 2.0, but you can't escape it. When you say that "Library 2.0 is a new model," part of the definitional context must be an old Library 1.0 model, and if you're going to distinguish 2.0 from 1.0, then the latter has to be essentially what the former is not. This opposition is not some relic of a linear way of thinking, it's built into the structure of the language. If you don't want to call that opposition into being, then you need to be more careful about the words that you choose to use. Otherwise you're drifting into Lewis Carroll territory.
David challenges my assertion that the definition that Casey & Savastinuk give of a Library 2.0 service applies to "the goal of every service and every organization." He says, "I think that every organization has paid lip service to this goal, while far too few have actually applied it with commitment and follow-through." My point exactly (as I say further down in the piece). The question is, why have they not applied it with commitment and follow-through, and what do we need to do about that?
The Casey & Savastinuk article (and much of the Library 2.0 discussion) suggests that what we need is a "new model of librarianship." This is a distraction. We don't need a new model. We need to figure out why we have such a hard time of living up to the ideals of the old model.
We need to figure out ways to make our organizations more nimble, our leaders (and I mean leaders at all levels -- some of the most enterprising and dynamic leaders I know are fresh graduates) more willing to take risks and promote innovation, and give our colleagues more opportunities to experiment in a supportive environment. And while I hate to keep harping on "50 years of management and organizational development literature", that's where the real work on these issues has been done.
I am thrilled, as David suggests I ought to be, with the passion of people like Casey & Savastinuk, who are pouring energy and time and attention into figuring out how to make our organizations better. And it's pretty clear that everyone who has participated in the L2 discussions shares the same general goals. But I take language very seriously. It's powerful. When we use it badly, we undercut our efforts to reshape the world. Throwing the cloak of "Library 2.0" over the problem and suggesting that it represents a new raft of powerful answers is a delusion and a distraction.