Predictions for Social Technologies & Libraries in 2010

By Michael Stephens |

Greetings from the depths of jet lag! After five weeks Down Under working on the Learning 2.0 research project and doing presentations, I've returned to  the northern hemisphere, where a blustery fall and a 15-hour time difference has me dazed and confused. I did, however, have time to catch up on some of my feeds—including this lengthy and thought-provoking post from Jennifer Leggio at ZDNet:

Leggio notes that 2009 has been a pivotal year for social technologies and looked to the “hive mind” for insights on what 2010 will bring to the arena. She put out a call for contributors to chime in with their own thoughts about what the next year will bring in the 2.0 world. Take a look at as many as you have time for, but don’t miss answers from David Armano, who foresees some intriguing corporate moves, Nicole Jordan, who addresses education, and Zena Weist, who offers this gem:

“With social media, the community lifts each other up through this very fluid form of communicating, sharing and re-purposing the content. In 2010, we will continue to see the trend of moving away from crowd sourcing toward community sourcing with social media tools.”

Leggio pulled folks from all types of professions and realms, but alas, no one from libraries. So I thought that I’d give it a stab and then put out a call for folks to add their own two cents.

Predictions for Social Technologies & Libraries in 2010

1. Social media policies will become more prevalent

We’ve seen some good examples of library social media policies, but they’ve been few and far between. I think 2010 will mark the tipping point when more libraries make it official by taking that Flickr account, blog, wiki, or LibraryThing and giving it a guiding plan for development and use. Preferably this would be tied to the mission and vision of the library itself. Not blogging for the sake of blogging, but blogging for the sake of eliciting feedback/comments, saving web development time and using free, open software.

You, dear reader, may find yourself sitting on a committee to draft the library’s policy. Some advice: work from examples from all realms and take no more than three meetings to hash out the policy and send it on. Things will be changing too fast to meet for weeks or months.

2. Evaluation will come into its own

In my talks in Australia, I referred to the evaluation of social media used by libraries as the “last great frontier” of this ongoing adoption of social tools in our institutions. We’ve introduced all sorts of shiny 2.0 technologies. 2010 will be the time—in fact, it should be the time—that we take a step back and see what’s working and what’s not. We will drop the things that don’t deliver, and add to the ones that do. First and foremost, we should design evaluation schemes that take into account the newness of the tools, the varying degrees of use by library users and staff and the time/resource saving involved. It means more than just counting comments, though that will be part of it. 

(See #1 for how to proceed: mission and vision.)

3. Libraries will become community leaders in teaching social tools

Libraries that have offered Learning 2.0 internally or have incorporated social tools into their services through a knowledgeable staff are positioned to take the next stepeducating governing bodies and their community of users. The library can be a leader for city, school or university government as that larger entity finds its way into the social stream. The library can educate and guide users as wellstudents, faculty, digital natives, seniors, business people, etc. This guidance will take place both inside of our buildings and online.

Developing a social media policy and evaluating the use of emerging and not-so-emerging-anymore tools are the first steps to this one: the library as trendsetter and educator, demonstrating how constituents can properly incorporate and use these tools.

How did I do? More importantly, what would you add? Please comment here with your own predictions for social media and libraries in 2010. I’ll incorporate them into a future post.