The two biggest challenges I see for public librarians embracing Library 2.0 services are related – two aspects of the same issue. 1) Librarians trusting the public and their contributions and 2) Librarians becoming comfortable not ‘owning’ or being the experts in a traditional sense within their institution. What makes this even more challenging is that I believe these attitudes to often exist on a subconscious level. I don’t think many public librarians would disagree with a mission statement that valued a ‘user-centered’ library. We all pretty much agree that we work in a service industry. However when you change the old paradigm to include things such as allowing patrons to add their tags or comments to a catalog, there can be some strong knee-jerk responses rooted in fear.
For example, after our weekend, I was pretty jazzed about all the things we were playing with and exploring. The next morning while I was at work at the yarn store, a local librarian came in for a spell. She went to school in the pre-internet years and has been telling me from day one, “Take as many technology courses as you can.” I also know her a bit and would describe her as a pretty liberal kind of gal. When I started telling her about class, in particular the open-source catalogs, I could see her shut down a bit. She doesn’t know much about Library 2.0 stuff, and I could tell that intense resistance set in once I described something that touched upon the sacred cow of the catalog. She started talking about digitial divide issues as a reason why the library shouldn’t go this direction. To her, it was going to a) increase the divide and b) take resources away from more traditional services.
I had to go wind some yarn before we could finish the conversation, but it made me think about how to initiate conversations with current librarians about Library 2.0 stuff. From what I knew about this person, I wasn’t expecting this response and if I were do it over, I would start with more foundational ideas, rather than ‘cool applications’.