Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Article Note: On Academic Library 2.0 and conceptual model

Citation for the article:

Xu, Chen, Fenfei Ouyang, and Heting Chu, "The Academic Library Meets Web 2.0: Applications and Implications." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 35.4 (July 2009): 324-331.

Read via Science Direct.

The article looks at a sampling of 81 academic libraries in New York State to see what Web 2.0 applications they have chosen to use and how they have applied them. On the basis, the authors then propose their conceptual model that revolves around the concepts of Librarian 2.0, User 2.0, and Information 2.0. I did not find this to be a ground-breaking article, but it does confirm some of what I have seen already or read out there in other librarian blogs.

Some small notes from the article I found interesting:

  • "Although Habib's Academic Library 2.0 model goes beyond the boundary of a library by including the social dimension of students' campus life, it does not cover research activities academic libraries strive to support" (325). The reference goes to Michael Habib's thesis from UNC-Chapel Hill, which you can find here. I may have to go and read the work itself, but this quote made me ponder a bit because I am indeed not seeing much on use of 2.0 in relation to an academic library's research activities, or, to better say it, the research activities an academic library is supposed to support. There is some work out there being done, but a lot of the coverage seems to be around the fun and games.
  • The survey revealed that the libraries sampled implemented 2.0 tools in a limited scale. I think this is fairly consistent with how most libraries probably do it. Contrary to what we see a lot in the librarian blogger sphere, which tends to be celebratory every time some library jumps on another 2.0 application, I tend to wonder about the ones that are doing things but are not writing about it. Or the ones who try things out, find out they do not work for them, but again, do not write about them. To be honest, those are the ones I would like to read about more. Also, the survey found that, in 34 of the sampled libraries, "there seems to be a great deal of variation among individual institutions with regard to actual utilization" (328). It seems to me that the libraries worked to adapt the tools to their needs.
  • The most adopted application in the sample was Instant Messenger (IM). This was followed by blogs. IM was usually used as part of reference services. Blogs were mostly used as news or announcement tools.
  • The authors mention that "one outstanding feature of the Web is its ability in handling multimedia" (328). When someone says that, I always wonder about the technological gap. My current residence is a good example where a significant number of the rural population have dial-up for their Internet access. Those folks are not going to be able to enjoy or use that "outstanding feature" of the Web any time soon. There is always the undercurrent in a lot of the LIS literature and information technology literature that people will simply move to the Web to do all they need to do. As long as access continues to be a serious issue and concern, that is not going to happen. Personally, I wish our profession would maybe advocate a bit more in favor of those facing a technological gap who are being left behind instead of focusing so much on the "technology haves" who pretty much will go to the Web no matter what.
  • Traits of the Librarian 2.0 in the conceptual model. Qualifications: creative, user-oriented, and active participation; roles: contributor, organizer, facilitator, coordinator (329).
Readers can go find the rest of the article for more details. This for me was mostly a summary of things I have seen before, but it could serve as discussion material in some library schools.

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