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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Don't let libraries become the pro "they" need to beat

Time Magazine has named "You" the person of the year. Read the article here.

For many in the library field who have been working with library 2.0 this is no surprise. Much of what we have been discussing, professing and promoting are the very same things Time talks about in their article,

"... look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes... The new Web is a very different thing. It's a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it's really a revolution."

I love how they describe this revolution and I see many libraries as an integral part...

" Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch Lost tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I'm going to mash up 50 Cent's vocals with Queen's instrumentals? I'm going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?

The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you."

While library 2.0 puts libraries front and center of this movement, we have to be very careful because we are also the pros... and that means more than ever we need to make sure the public sees us as part of the movement not the old establishment that they are trying to "beat".

How do we do that? I've read excellent posts about tagging, blogs and myspace accounts and some libraries are moving forward with these ideas, but even with our best efforts we can only produce materials that reflect our libraries. The revolution Time speaks about and that is exploding throughout the world is the raw input of the user and that can scare any professional organization.

My post yesterday about news agencies allowing content to be filmed by "Joe bystander" is one way professional organizations are looking to stay relevant. I can guarantee you the debates in the news room were really fierce before the intitiative was released. But it is the same debate we in the library field need to bring to the front burner and begin to figure out new boundaries. YA librairians are there with the tools but how many are finding kids still write more to their own myspace accounts? That's exactly what the news industry was facing- so what we do we do?

Time ends their article with this...

"But that's what makes all this interesting. Web 2.0 is a massive social experiment, and like any experiment worth trying, it could fail. There's no road map for how an organism that's not a bacterium lives and works together on this planet in numbers in excess of 6 billion. But 2006 gave us some ideas. This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person. It's a chance for people to look at a computer screen and really, genuinely wonder who's out there looking back at them. Go on. Tell us you're not just a little bit curious."

Who are we going to see in our screens?

library marketing

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