Hello, Library (1.0) World!

By Jenny Levine |

My name is Jenny Levine, and I run The Shifted Librarian blog. I'm a little late to the party, but I'm thrilled to be a contributor to this blog along with such esteemed colleagues! Some of the themes I plan to discuss here include audio ebooks, the Millennial/Gamer generation and their impact on libraries, and what Michael has already referred to as Web 2.0 (which Michael Casey has extended to "Library 2.0").

That last one is a theme that I've been building up to for the last year. I discussed library blogging 2.0 in December, and I've referred to "library Web services" here and there. I think this is an important topic for libraries because these are specific ways we can get our content and services out there into the rest of the world, rather than forcing users to come to our Web sites.

A few good examples of what I mean by this are the LibraryLookup bookmarklet, OCLC's Open WorldCat-enabled Web tools (such as the Yahoo/WorldCat Toolbar), FireFox extensions (actually Web Browser Extensions in general), Konfabulator widgets, and RSS. It's been heartening to see a lot of different folks talking about getting our services out there.

In addition, there's been a lot of talk about what we can take from the cutting-edge Web world and integrate into our own tools. For example, Library Crunch has a great OPAC Wishlist that points to specific features on non-library sites that would be useful in our online catalogs. I would add to this already thoughtful list Google Suggest (a proof-of-concept already exists thanks to Casey Bisson at Plymouth State University), GreaseMonkey scripting, and AJAX coding (imagine how cool that would be on the staff side!). Steven "Library Stuff" Cohen would add a Library Thing interface in order to allow patrons to create their own mini-catalogs within the OPAC. Art Rhyno is always working on cool stuff, and even vendors like OCLC (see their Product Works and ResearchWorks) and Talis are showing off some great stuff.

If you're not familiar with AJAX programming, check out the Wikipedia entry and this great list of the Top 10 AJAX Applications from A Venture Forth. While you're reading it, note that not a single one of them is a library implementation. Truly useful and working implementations are fairly new, but they're not totally accessible to visually impaired users, so this isn't completely surprising. However, this is where the Web is headed (hopefully they'll work out the accessibility issues), which is why it's called "Web 2.0." It's important to recognize what this evolution means, because it will eventually become the foundation for future Web applications that ordinary users interact with every day. The Web is becoming an operating system right before our eyes, and it's pretty cool to watch it unfold. I recommend reading Common Information Environment, Library Crunch, Science Library Pad, and Thinking about the Future for tracking this trend and how libraries could be part of it.

So the potential is definitely there to shift our services to where our users are, and a lot of the pieces have been coming together this year. More on the picture those pieces are forming next.