When I Grow Up

I found this article via the ALA TechSource Blog, but I think it was posted elsewhere as well. It speaks to the direction in which I’m interesting in moving as a librarian. (Originally posted on sunny days & rain, 11/17/05.)

From Publish: “Library 2.0 Movement Sees Benefits in Collaboration with Patrons.” The more I think about it, even if working with the library’s technology isn’t my main job function, I can see myself finding ways to get involved in it, whether that be by helping the librarian who is focusing on technology, or by working on stuff on my own time. There are so many great new software applications out there, and I think that a lot of them can be implemented by libraries for the benefit of the community. And, as an added bonus, at least right now many of them are free or are pretty cheap.

Take the example of the town history wiki set up by a librarian at the Thomas Ford Library in Illinois. The wiki won’t load right now, but it strikes me as the kind of thing that one could use to involve patrons who might otherwise shy away from new technologies. Older folks who have lived in a town or a neighborhood for a long time have a lot of knowledge and stories about that area. With some time and patience and a volunteer or two, an intrepid librarian could get those people to share what they know about the town via a wiki or maybe a blog.

Sure, you would probably have to do a fair amount of transcription for some contributors (this is where your volunteers come in — not only do they help do something for the library, but they brighten a senior’s day by spending some time listening to old stories! Perhaps Girl and Boy Scout troops could help out with something like this for a badge or community service requirement. Anyway.). But there would almost certainly be one or two who would be willing to go it themselves after some initial help. What better thing to see than a grandma contributing to a wiki on her hometown’s history! I love it. And I think these kinds of projects could get a little bit of backing, or at least wouldn’t be completely shot down if the abovementioned enthusiastic librarian took care of it on her own time.

In a way, this goes back to my earlier point about libraries as community spaces (see “What is a library?” 11/9). It’s all coming together . . .

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