Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Requiem for Library 2.0

Update: Administration of the Library 2.0 network has been handed over to Steve Hargadon. Never underestimate the power of the Internet to influence!

This requiem is not for Library 2.0 in general, but for the Ning network, Library 2.0. This week, its founder, Bill Drew, let us know that due to inactivity, he was closing down the site and looking for ways of archiving it.

The Library 2.0 Ning group is not old - I joined in Spring 2007 when there were several hundred members. When news of the network first spread (mostly by email), membership soon hit 1,000, then 2,000, and continued to grow. Currently there are over 4,000 members of the network. It caught on at a time when many wanted to learn about Library 2.0, but there was no obvious email list or web destination.

The excitement the group generated encouraged us to go out into the Web 2.0 world and actively engage, experiment, think of ways of harnessing Web 2.0 to create Library 2.0 concepts. It made us realize that the world is now going to be different, shifting from a stable environment to one that is ever-changing. No longer would there be one way to do things: we encouraged each other to try multiple ways, and maintain using the ones that worked while discarding those less useful, while keeping an eye open for whatever new tools or ideas may be on the horizon.

I see the Library 2.0 Ning network is a victim of its own success. We are now discarding the less useful: the Ning group was a good starting point, but it had (as Ning still has in all its groups) a number of inherent obstacles that prevent easy communication. Emailing through Ning is slower than molasses as is messaging. The entire site always felt lugubrious to me, so that once I became adept at RSS, I simply followed the feeds and avoided the site.

But its advantages were many. I met so many people through the Ning group (both virtual and face-to-face) who I have continued to keep up with, or who know me so that when the occasion arises, I feel comfortable in communicating with them.

Most importantly for me, through the group I came to recognize that Library 2.0 was not just about using cool new tools. The bigger issues were what the effect these tools had on all of us and the way we interact with the world. These issues gave rise to crowdsourcing, fostering a flatter world where one should question ownership of information, questioning traditional modes of management, advertising, publicity...in short, nearly everything we do, whether on a social or individual basis. Library 2.0 (and of course Web 2.0) will continue to change the way we look and do things for the coming years as more and more people begin to recognize how to integrate the Internet into their lives.

It still is a pity that the Library 2.0 Ning group should go. I would love to see at least an email incarnation of our community -- even though I know email is not a favored method of communication for the current generation of college-age people and younger. Twitter is too limited for substantive discussions.

Whatever its future or demise may be, I would hope that all librarians throughout the world continue to maintain the group's excitement which led us to discover each other and new ways of thinking and engaging with the world.


Gary Wasdin said...

Maybe we can have a reunion get-together?

I think you are right...it really filled a void at the time, and served a tremendous need....but was quick and over.

Miss you Bob!

Bob Kosovsky said...

Hi Gary! Hope all is well where you are. I/we miss you, too!

Now that someone has volunteered to take over, it'll be interesting to see how the group morphs.

Thanks for the comment!

Peter said...

Congratulations. Your blog has been nominated for our Library Blog Awards. In fact, your blog was suggested more than once. We're in the process of assembling information about all those nominated and will be sending a short questionaire, including the categories of awards and the judges involved. Would you please send me your email address so that I can send you the questionaire? If your email is on your blog, I couldn't locate it.

Thanks in advance,
Peter W Tobey