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Developing a Web 2.0 service model

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What services should be developed?

One of the main principles of Library 2.0 is collaboration with the users: this can happen without or with minimal technology, for instance by offering your space for reading groups or for events. Many of the services being developed have been mentioned in the previous section, but here are some more which may not be reliant on technology, or which may use existing technologies in a slightly different way.

Community events and initiatives

Many libraries host local events and promote these via their websites. The events may be cultural, such as a book group, a film showing, or an art exhibition; they may be age-related, for example to children and teenagers; or they may respond to community need, for example legal services or groups to support job search in areas of high unemployment and deprivation. Users may also be invited to post their own events.

Cambridgeshire libraries have a with direct user input (with moderation from library staff). Members of the public, according to Steven Bending of Cambridgeshire libraries, can register on the site and post information, events, activities, courses, and news about clubs, societies and voluntary organizations. This is a real departure for the libraries, as previously the process of collecting and collating information has been paper-based.

The Idea Store, in the east London Borough of Tower Hamlets, has a range of community services to help in an area of social deprivation: activities for children that include reading, story groups, Nintendo Wii, help with job search and CVs, and legal advice.

Local history and studies is an obvious focus for the library, and many libraries also use their websites to provide access to digital collections.

Barry and Tedd (2008) conducted research into how Irish public libraries used their websites to present local studies collections. They found that the majority of the 32 public libraries in Ireland had some sort of local studies website, and that some solicited contributions from users.

, for example, is based on the idea of place, and has an active relationship with users who are encouraged to donate written research, and there is an online visitors' book and web forum.

Librarians have for a long time had an interest in information literacy and teaching IT, and many public libraries offer workshops teaching people how to use computers and the Internet. Proving information about Web 2.0 services is a logical extension of this.

Princeton Public Library has its own where you can learn all aspects of computing and also try out new gadgets in the .

Offering different media

The good Web 2.0 librarian is genre neutral, and will offer resources in a whole range of media, from the more usual books, magazines, journals and databases, to videos, DVDs, audio cassettes, audio books, websites, games, and toys.

For example, lists its holdings as:

  • books
  • magazines
  • audio books
  • books on iPods
  • videos
  • CDs
  • DVDs
  • audio cassettes
  • toys
  • storytime bags
  • microfilm
  • art prints.

Tower Hamlets Library, or , lists:

  • books
  • large print or audio books
  • multisensory story packs
  • skills for life collections
  • self-help titles on mental health problems
  • book groups
  • newspapers and magazines
  • CDs and DVDs.

The website

Having a website is nothing new, and most libraries in all sectors expect to have a strong virtual as well as a physical presence. What is an indication of the Web 2.0 influence is the site's look and feel. Take for example the following website shown in Figure 5, which like many UK public libraries has a local council branding:

Image: Figure 5. Screenshot of Wiltshire County Council's library information page (reproduced by kind permission of the Libraries, Heritage and Arts, Department of Community Services, Wiltshire Council).

Figure 5. Screenshot of Wiltshire County Council's library information page (reproduced by kind permission of the Libraries, Heritage and Arts, Department of Community Services, Wiltshire Council)

And compare it with the following example:

Image. Figure 6. Screenshot of Kansas City's library information page.

Figure 6. Screenshot of Kansas City's library information page

This site gets away from pure service provision (although it is in no doubt there) towards a more cultural theme: the user is propelled into the world of ideas, reminiscent of President Obama's description of how,

"walking into a library and seeing those books, seeing human knowledge collected in that fashion, accessible, ready for me, would always lift my spirits".

There are staff picks, featured resources, reading groups, stories on recent history, and a slide show of events. In addition, there are drop down menus (with different styles for kids and teens), and a box on the left-hand side with all the services one needs.

In the above example the staff pick the resources; some libraries give the reader a chance to review material, a truly collaborative way of building content and replicating the Amazon experience.

Another key principle of Web 2.0 is personalization, and many libraries have a "my account" facility which allows you to renew and check overdue items, and may also offer other facilities, such as the ability to save searches, place reservations, pay late fees, submit book reviews, update your details, and "freeze" holdings so you don't lose their place in the queue.

Developing digital collections

For academic and research libraries, one of the tenets of Library 2.0 is a less restrictive attitude to copyright. Creative commons licences allow for re-use of material in non-commercial settings. Thus many academic libraries encourage academics to deposit their work in the university's collection of digital repositories.

The University of Pretoria is one of the largest libraries in South Africa and its librarians have created , a digital repository which includes:

  • scholarly research material,
  • historical (archival) material,
  • popular research material,
  • conference proceedings and presentations,
  • speeches and donated collections.