This semester I’m taking a class focusing on libraries and Web 2.0. This week, one of our readings was a paper by Helen Partridge entitled “Librarian 2.0: It’s All in the Attitude!” We were asked to reflect on our readings and I wanted to share some of my reflections here.
Last semester I took a Transformative Learning and Technology Literacies class where we addressed Learning 2.0. That class (and I suspect this one, as well) was an eye-opening experience for me, but not in the way I expected. I was in high school when blogging, Myspace, and personal websites began to become popular and college when Facebook, Youtube, and Wikipedia began. I, and those around me, integrated the idea of the read/write web into our lives fairly easily and I often have a difficult time remembering the time before it. Therefore, I often forget that this isn’t necessarily the case for many people involved in the library and information fields or many of the library users. Learning about the issues surrounding Web 2.0, defining it, and figuring out how to incorporate it into the field has helped me not only better understand Web 2.0, but also the experiences of those whose background is different from mine.
This is partially why I found the Partridge article so interesting. It was fascinating to read the various responses concerning “Librarian 2.0.” Seeing how professionals in the field defined it and viewed their participation in it prompted me to think about several things I hadn’t before. I could discuss the entire article easily, but for the sake of space I wanted to touch on a few items from it that really struck me.
The first was the section that stated “One participant commented on the fact that we do not insist that all librarians like to read, so why than [sic] should we insist that all librarians have a Web 2.0 presence?” (Partridge, 2011, p. 258). This is an interesting point and I both agree and disagree with it. I don’t think it’s necessary that every librarian have a large Web 2.0 presence. Though the field is evolving, Web 2.0 is certainly only one aspect. However, that’s greatly simplifying the situation. A lack of love of reading won’t necessarily negatively affect a librarian’s ability to do is or her job. For example the ability to sit down and enjoy a novel isn’t necessary to provide good reference service. Focusing solely on Web 2.0 would be to the detriment of the field, especially since a large part of the user population doesn’t need or isn’t able to access that type of service. However, the lack of willingness to adapt to Web 2.0 could negatively affect a librarian’s ability to do his or her job as we move towards a more digital culture. It’s not necessary to be an expert, but an attempt to understand is definitely a benefit not only to the patron, but to the librarian. After all “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less” (General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U. S. Army).
A second section that struck me was the idea that “Participants unanimously agreed that the 2.0 librarian should possess a complex array of personality traits. One participant even declared that personality traits were more important than skills” (Partridge, 2011, p. 260). While I certainly don’t agree that personality traits are more important than skills, the idea that Librarian 2.0 should be flexible, adaptable, and willing to try new things is something I agree with. In fact, the idea that the library and information field is one that is changing, and in many cases changing rapidly, is part of why I’m so excited to be a part of it. It’s one of the few fields where we have the ability to experiment with new platforms and different subjects, while still working with the users to best serve them.