January 18, 2008

Web 2.0 & Your Library

Is your library taking advantage of Web 2.0?

Consider this: The nation's most prestigious library is now collaborating with a major Web 2.0 site to reach people like never before.

The Library of Congress recently announced a new pilot project to display photos on Flickr, a popular photo sharing site. Why did they choose Flickr when they had already had digital library to display their photos? Simple. They went to where the people are. They showed that their main concern was to expand access and not to maintain complete control of the items and metadata.

This seems like a good time to talk about metadata. Instead of trying to tag (assign keywords) each photo with the appropriate library-approved subject headings, LOC has embraced social tagging (on Flickr) and is allowing the general public to tag its photos for them. Again, why have they abandoned the traditional, restrictive approach? The answer is the same: to allow for greater access and community participation.

I think this is a huge step forward for libraries in understanding and accepting the importance of Web 2.0 components and how they affect our libraries. What can we all take from this?

  • Go to where the people are. (Did you know that a keyword search for "new hampshire" on Flick brings up nearly 130,000 photos! Trust me, many of your users are already there.)
  • Allow for more user participation. Your users want to participate in their library. Take a look at the comments on this LOC photo.
Please know that I am not suggesting that we abandon traditional library methods; I am simply suggesting that we take advantage of the resources available to us to bring libraries and our valuable resources back into people's lives in new ways. We must ask ourselves, "How valuable are our collections if they are not easily accessible?"

Like always, let me know if you have any questions or would like to know more about how Web 2.0 can help your library!