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Focus on Australian libraries

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Library 2.0

The use of social media by libraries in Australia is patchy – there are some who make very imaginative use of it, but the vast majority of public libraries, according to Ross Duncan are, as is the case in the UK, constrained by having to use the IT systems and branding of the councils of which they are part.

On the other hand, there comes a time when a library website is visited and used as frequently as are its physical branches.

"I think the willingness of our members to uptake virtual services has increased quite dramatically this year" says Duncan. "We're probably at a tipping point in the next 12 to 18 months where we dedicate someone to manage the social media presence and other online activities."

Gold Coast City Council, in South East Queensland, one of the largest library services in Australia, has clearly reached that "tipping point" – it has an online presence which it treats like a typical branch, with someone in charge.

Image: screenshot of the Gold Coast City Council website.

Screenshot of Gold Coast City Council Libraries website

Elsewhere, three libraries in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria (Casey-Cardinia Library Corporation, Eastern Regional Libraries, and Frankston Library Service) all make imaginative use of Web 2.0 to push their services out to the user.

Their experiences are described in Gosling et al. (2009) and they claim that "using Web 2.0 tools has enabled us to be content providers in our own right, not just facilitators providing other people's content", and also to provide more user-driven content with reviews (see:

Just over an hour's drive away, Yarra Plenty is another forward looking library.

Image: Screenshot of Yarra Plenty website.

Screenshot of Yarra Plenty Library website

A number of librarians have been involved in the 23 Things programme, which helps library staff to implement new technologies. A case study of an academic library, at Edith Cowan University Library, can be found in Gross and Leslie, 2008.