Thursday, August 28, 2008

Masterclass Library 2.0: I am an island

Yesterday, I visited the library 2.0 Masterclass, which was organized by DOK, the public library of Rotterdam and Edwin Mijnsbergen.

Stephen Abram
thinks that many libraries are watching in passive resistance to how the world around them is changing. One of the obstacles for innovation in libraries is that they seem to be located on uninhabited islands, which are - by all means - beautiful in itself (my interpretation and metaphor of Stephen's message). But to get people to visit your beautiful island, you have to let them know you exist and give them easy access (not everyone is like Columbus :-)). In doing so, you make arrangements with travel agents, advertising agencies, you let architects on your island to build housing, etcetera, etcetera. Marshall Breeding's message and efforts to make library catalogs more intuitive is one of the solutions to attract customers. Getting your content digitized by Google Books is another. And investing in SEO makes your quality visible to the world.

The message seems clear, solutions are at hand. But change is slow. How come? Stephen says that libraries are in denial. "Library 2.0 is a state of mind", he says. And that is not something I would argue. The Chasm Dialogue in the illustration above is a perfect example of the way people get stuck in their own dilemma's. The question is, how do we help people cross the chasm?

Though I really admire the felt passion Stephen has for the need to change, there is a potential risk to being right: "We become an island unto ourselves". Maybe Stephen's suggestion that librarians in denial should visit "Librarians Anonymous" is not as akward as it may seam. It's the feeling that you are understood - not judged - that is healing. People don't want to be told they don't want to hear. In my opinion people really dó want to hear, but they also want to be héard.

Maybe the necessity for library 2.0 is past the need for proof. We have seen the charts, figures, numbers. We all know the power of Google and Amazon-like services (librarians buy there too :-)) Maybe, library 2.0 (presentations) could benefit from shifting focus from "why do we need to change?" to "hów do we accomplish change?". And ofcourse focus ís already shifting. The learning 2.1 program (and "23 dingen") is one of the tools to accomplish change. Tapping into scientific literature about human behavior, psychology, organisational change might be another. We may be excellent librarians, but that does not necessarily make us experts in human dynamics (and neither am I) or in any other field we might profit from. And we don't háve to be. We can get of our island and seek cooperation with other disciplines, companies, people and tap into the rich resources available to achieve our goals .. We can choose to get of our island and enter the archipelago.

To share is to gain (and it's a lot less lonely anyway).

But you are welcome to (dis)agree with me!


- Illustration from Stephen's blog

(This post is in English because I think that the speakers should be at least be able to comment on my view on their presentation)