I was perusing through Davd Lee King’s blog today and there were a few interesting posts about notions of community and Web 2.0. I think it’s easy to understand the connection between 2.0 tools and the communities that use them. After all, that’s one of the big reasons why the library world has embraced them.
But, as King notes, who becomes responsible for maintaining these tools? Who maintains the MySpace page? The RSS feeds? The library blog? To me, when thinking about Web 2.0, this question becomes paramount. Many of us get enthusiastic (kind of) over these tools and plunge in head first like all of the 2.0 gurus tell us to. But then after we’ve created the MySpace page and the RSS feeds and they sit there barren and rotting away from neglect, we slowly realize maintaining these tools becomes a lot of work. In some cases, it requires so much work, the question then becomes, is it worth maintaining these 2.0 services at all?
Personally, I feel that there are times when our desire to be on the “cutting edge” actually detracts from the quality of service we provide. I’d rather have 3 really great 2.0 services than 8 poor ones.
The lesson here, as King suggests, is to plan accordingly and effectively, and it is hard to disagree with this. Without proper planning, your latest 2.0 flash-whiz-bang will go untouched and quickly become a waste of time. Of course, it’s easy to give lip service to the importance of planning, when in reality, it’s not that simple. Planning is difficult stuff. It involves people, many of which may be resistant to the undertaking from the start. I get headaches just thinking about.
Well, what does all this boil down to? Be selective in which 2.0 technologies you seek to adopt. Experiment with them to be sure, but be extra critical when it comes to deciding which ones to implement in your library. The fewer you adopt, the easier it will be to devote the required attention and effort it takes to make the project successful. Moreover, it’s much easier to garner support from colleagues and administrators when you’re not bombarding them with proposals every week about how the library should adopt the latest 2.0 tool that just came out yesterday.
2.0 is about community, but don’t forget it’s the library staff that is ultimately responsible for fostering that community. The 2.0 tools won’t do it for you.