Staying Connected through 2.0
Valerie A. Ott
Internet 2.0, Library 2.0, Teen 2.0. What does it all mean? Kim Bolan, Meg Canada, and Rob Cullin do an excellent job of explaining the ideas behind the 2.0 concept in their article, "Web, Library, and Teen Services 2.0." But, in a nutshell, the main thrust behind the 2.0 version of anything, really, is improved usability. This idea may seem threatening if it's taken to mean creating something bigger, better, and faster by adding bells and whistles, and in the case of libraries, more services. The beauty of 2.0, however, is that it largely depends on user feedback and user-added content. The Internet, for instance, personifies 2.0 concepts through blogs, customized interfaces, and sites that allow user comments and reviews or even invite authorship, as Wikipedia does. So, Library 2.0—and by extension Teen Services 2.0—is a similar concept. Instead of providing core services the same way libraries have essentially done for centuries, why not ask what users want from us and invite them to interact with those services? (Hint: "Because we've never done it this way" is not an acceptable response.)
The fact is, libraries are losing ground to for-profit entities like Starbucks, Borders, Amazon, and Netflix because they have strived to make the user experience what users have indicated they want it to be. We all know what happens to companies that don't listen to their customers. Why should libraries be any different? The good news is that the 2.0 concept embraces the idea of throwing something out that doesn't work, so instead of just providing more services, you'll have ample opportunity to provide more effective services. The great news is that the 2.0 concept really just puts a techy-sounding name to something we already do: Find new and better ways to involve young adults through materials, programming, and technology. By listening to teens, observing their online habits, and incorporating their feedback into the services we provide, 2.0 status can surely be achieved.
In recognition of YALSA's first-ever Teen Tech Week TM to be celebrated March 4–10, 2007, this issue of YALS is dedicated to all things electronic. The benefits of providing chat reference are discussed in "Homework Help Is a Click Away"; Beth Saxton details how to hold video game programs at your library, while Matt Gullett and Eli Neiburger explain the social benefits achieved through such events; and the darker side of the Internet is explored in Tara Anderson and Brian Sturm's eye-opening piece on cyberbullying. These are just a few of the topics I hope you find useful as you stay mindful of the 2.0 concepts that are so central to providing excellent services to teens. Here's to staying connected!