Posted by: Steven Harris | December 18, 2007

Why Collections 2.0?

Welcome to Collections 2.0! I have blogged a lot elsewhere, but I am starting this site to concentrate on discussing how the social web and library collections might be married to generate a richer online experience for library users. It is my belief that the future of libraries depends upon this marriage. See the “About” statement.

I am coming at this from the perspective of an academic collection development librarian who is also very excited about web technology and digital gadgetry. While collection development librarians are often intimately involved in selecting and maintaining digital content, they are rarely involved in implementing 2.0 ideas and products. Conversely, the library staff most often engaged in 2.0 processes, have little role to play in collection development. We need to begin thinking about these as related, even unified activities. Part of the subtitle I have selected says it all “content and community.” Those are the heart of the library I envision.

There is a general notion that Library 2.0 is not about collections at all, but rather about how we enable users to respond to the collections, that it doesn’t matter what our collections contain or how they are structured, but only that we give users a forum to talk back, as it were. I think that if 2.0 is limited to notions about user response (blogs, wikis, etc.), then libraries will cease to be dynamic and useful to the public. The very nature of library collections will need to change to make the best use of social software. Collections will need to foster not just user feedback but also user engagement and application to real-world problems. There are real barriers to this kind of 2.0 collection. I plan to examine some of these problems and develop ideas about how librarians might transform their collections to not only engage users in a community but to enhance the ability of users to reuse and repurpose library data as well. It’s all about the data! (I think I stole that concept from Tim O’Reilly.)

I welcome comments, contributions, and even partners. Contact me if you would like to become a formal contributor to the blog. steven.harris@usu.edu.

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