Library 2.0 and books

Yesterday I enjoyed a great discussion about Library 2.0 that was recorded by Talis and will be published as a podcast later. But one thing really struck me during the discussion. When I mentioned that I thought books where a really important part of Library 2.0, there was several groans around the table. Not surprising, since the discussion on Library 2.0 usually centres around users and electronic services and books may be seen as the anchor that we drag with us as we move into the brave new world of Library 2.0.
To me the possible success of Library 2.0 as a concept lies in a widespread acceptance by library workers in all types of libraries, and to achieve that the people discussing Library 2.0 has to acknowledge that libraries are also about books. When you enter any library in the world today, even the new fantastic public library in Seattle, what do you see? Books! The OCLC perceptions of libraries and information resources (chapter 4. Libraries – a “universal” brand? PDF) shows us how central to the image of the library books are. We cannot throw this image to the side and talk only about e-resources and services. Books are here for the long run and if Library 2.0 is to have any meaning to the average librarian, it has to address books and how Library 2.0 can enhance and improve our real-time, physical-world services.
How can the Library 2.0 thinking influence book circulation? One thing that I think needs to be adressed is the involvement of the library user in all facets of book handeling in libraries, from selection (I believe this is where we have a great opportunity to really engage our users), cataloging (tagging, user comments) and in displaying, reccomending (one tip I read the other day, let there be space on bookmarks for comments that can be passed on to the next reader). What if every book has a space for physical comments? (Maybe a new use for the old pockets that used to be glued to the back of library books?) There must be tons of things that can be done to improve how we collect, distribute and promote books in libraries, and I believe that some of the underlying ideas in Library 2.0 can be of use in this process.

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I'm a norwegian librarian.

Posted in Books, Library 2.0

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