Michael Stephens of Tame the Web is a blogger whose writing and insight I admire tremendously. He's a tech librarian's tech librarian. His November 25 post, Suggestions for Upgrading to Library 2.0 (or Some Easy Steps to Get Started...Really) had me cheering all the way through until the end, when I finally reflected on the situation in most libraries, and wept quietly into my hands. There have been a lot of Library 2.0 posts lately, but it was Michael's specific suggestions that prompted me to step in with my in-the-trenches perspective.
There isn't a thing wrong with Michael's suggestions, provided that you are person who can affect such change, or work in a wonderfully collaborative environment. We all know about the socioeconomic digital divide, but there's an in-house version of the divide. Most of us need not look any further than our own work places to find it. It's a cleft kept wedged apart by territoriality, fear, ignorance, and resistance to change. Maybe a more accurate model would be one of those Antarctic ice shelves that used to be a cohesive, identifiable land mass, but breaks up into various, drifting chunks (a penguin here, a penguin there...how will they ever connect again? If only the penguins had IM!) I'm going to go through Michael's points and explain why his vision is very Pie-in-the-Sky for many of us. That said, I'm thankful to Michael and all the other Pie-in-the-Skyers. It gives the rest of us hope and something to strive for.
Bring together some of your newer librarians with the seasoned staff who are interested and create a Think Tank, R&D department, or the inspirational Emerging Technology Committee to look at all these new tools.
This is a wonderful idea. I'm on the Web Team where I work, and grateful to be a part of it, even when eyes glaze over when the talk veers away from Library 1.0 issues. I think this sort of collaboration will become more prevalent as we see more new tech-savvy grads enter the workplace, and as libraries figure out that they need to look at outdated staffing models. I have been invited to attend a forum on library science education at Midwinter. I was wondering what I could contribute, but it's becoming clearer to me now. (Go ahead....don't wait for an invite. Just sign up!)
If you haven't already, train as soon as possible on Bloglines or the RSS aggregator of your choice to empower staff to keep up with the biblioblogosphere, LIS news and the news in general.
Blog? What's a blog? I wonder how many library workers would see this as "playing on the Internet" and not understand that professional development doesn't have to take place while seated in a hard chair, taking notes on a PowerPoint presentation? As a funny/sad ironic aside, I was checking my Bloglines account at work last week, and Tame the Web was blocked by our library's blocking software under the category "Personal Web Pages." That Michael Stephens is a dangerous guy!
Encourage staff to use the tools as well.
Where I work, blogs, Flickr, other "tools" are
solely mostly the purview of the IT department (see comment below for YA success!). I'd love to be able to share what I know and why I think it'd be useful with my colleagues.
Finally, think seriously about IM as well.
Security issues. Generally not available on public or staff computers. No virtual ref, save for email from those who discover this service by poking around on the website. (But, I have tipped off ref desk staff to Meebo.com, for when they encounter teeth-gnashing patrons who are unable to log on to AIM or Yahoo!) A good work-around!
If I sound frustrated, I guess I'm a bit of a Veruca Salt about what I want to do in my daily work. As much as I love learning about Library and Web 2.0 and finding ways to make technology work for patrons and colleagues, I'm not sure that many (most) libraries are ready to take even the baby steps suggested by Michael. I'm sure you'll let me know if I'm mistaken (and I hope that I am).