Thursday, October 18, 2007

Both admiration and frustration with the public

We hear so much in the library blogosphere about Library 2.0 and the need (oftentimes portrayed as the desperate need) to bring patrons into the fold through high tech social software. So we librarians get excited. We learn to Twitter, Ning, and Flickr. We Digg, and Facebook and LibraryThing. But in the end, what do we end up spending time with the average patron doing? Mouse skills. Or the age old question, "how do I copy and paste?"

I don't know if it is the location of my public library, or if this is what all public librarians are seeing, but the overwhelming majority of our patrons are no where near ready for Library 2.0. And by the time they are, we will have released Library 3.0. Besides, who are they going to network with using the latest social software? No one that they know uses it. While MySpace and Facebook have become fairly universally popular with young people of all socio-economic backgrounds, the rest of Twopointoh Land is for affluent academics with too much time on their hands.

Yet there is something encouraging about people with no keyboarding skills, and no mouse skills, being willing to ask for help signing up for an email address so that they can attempt a job search online. What an intimidating experience for them! THAT is where the real benefits are being achieved. I think it's time to put 2.0 to rest while we meet our patrons where they actually are and show them that technology might be able to be of some practical, concrete benefit for them.


The.Effing.Librarian said...

the people using the 2.0 stuff don't need (or want?) our help. but as long as we stay a few steps ahead of the mouse-tarded, we should always be useful..

The Old Librarian said...

good for you, love the post, i am an academic librarian who is quite concerned that in the mad rush to play library 2.0 we are going to be heading off to where - our patrons are not!

Dances With Books said...

I am glad I am not the only one thinking this when it comes to the whole 2.0 cult. As effing puts it, very often those already using it don't want our help. More importantly, the vast majority of users are nowhere ready, let alone have a clue. Of course, listening to the 2.0 cultists, you'd get the impression that the masses are just trying to break in the doors to get to the 2.0 stuff. Thanks for saying what many of us have been thinking at one point or another.