Thursday, September 29, 2011

Web 2.0 Uses

               The most common of the Web 2.0 tools utilized by public and academic libraries are Weblogs, mobile device interfacing, Really Simple Syndication (RSS), streaming media, instant messaging, Reference Works, collective intelligence, sharing opinions, bookmarking, streaming media, tags and social networking including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Some of these tools overlap in both academic and public libraries, while others are more suited to just one of the aforementioned. The general consensus is that whether a library is public or academic, it is very popular for them to use social media tools that promote and market the library including events and new additions to the library (Anttiroiko & Savolainen, 2011; Gerolimos & Konsta, 2011; Kho, 2011).
               Weblogs are used in both public and academic libraries more than any other tool and they are typically used to promote news events happening within the library. RSS is used to provide information of new additions of materials. Instant messaging is very popular in the academic library for providing reference help. Public libraries are more apt to use Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These are useful communication tools to build relationships and awareness among the patron base (Anttiroiko & Savolainen, 2011; Gerolimos & Konsta, 2011; Kho, 2011).
               Anttiroiko and Savolainen (2011) point out that although it is easy to figure out what tools are being used by the libraries, it is often hard to measure how much these tools are actually being used by the targeted group, the patrons.  Some tools have been retracted when the library believed that they were not being used enough. An example is the discontinued use of instant messaging in some academic libraries. Even when a tool has been found successful in one type of library, it may not have the same popularity in another type of library. An example is Facebook in the academic library.  It is believed that students escape academia through Facebook and may be less likely to add the library as a friend.  They may feel the library is encroaching on their privacy. Another negative social implication is the outside exploitation of "friends" for marketing purposes of those who friend the library on Facebook (Gerolimos & Konsta, 2011).
               This leads to the drawbacks that can be found in implementing Web 2.0 tools in the library.  Time and money must be dedicated to keeping up with the latest tools.  Sometimes the investment may produce no positive results for the library.  Creating a video for YouTube or streaming video, educating patrons how to use services in the library may not attract any viewers.  Another drawback might be the exclusion of the population who are unable to access these tools because they lack the proper hardware or technical abilities. Whatever is being delivered through these Web 2.0 tools will need to be communicated in other ways to those who are unable to access them.
               Currently, the dominant use of Web 2.0 tools in the library lies with the social media tools. Kho (2011)  points out the four main reasons libraries use social media are to promote, communicate, build relationships and provide better customer service.  In order to raise awareness of the library through Web 2.0 tools, some other public relation methods may need to be eliminated. A fine example of informational use of these tools are the popular YouTube videos of a librarian, Helen Fellers, who gives three minute book talks and recommendations to adults and children. Blogs are used in the Orange County Library System to provide information that is both non-library and library related.  Wikis are used to deliver information and teach information literacy (Annttiroiko &Savolainen, 2011). As libraries implement these Web 2.0 tools, it will be prudent for the libraries to find ways to measure their effectiveness while also being sensitive to meeting the needs of their non Web 2.0 population.

Gerolimos, M., & Konsta, R. (2011, July/August). Services for academic 
     libraries in the new era. D-Lib Magazine, 17(7/8), 1-12. Retrieved      
     from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.
Kho, N. (2011, June). Social media in libraries: Keys to deeper 
     engagement. Information Today, 28(6), 1, 31-2. 
     Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.
Anttiroiko, A., & Savolainen, R. (2011, June). Towards library 2.0
     The adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in public libraries.
      Libri, 61(2), 87-99.doi: 10.1515/libri.2011.008


  1. You raise an excellent point here about libraries learning which tools really do work for them. Even though the online chat help system has been available through USF libraries for years, I can't see myself using the system. I often get frustrated trying to solve problems through an online help line and (stubbornly) would use other means to ask a question. I agree with your reference to YouTube; this video site can help libraries offer instructional videos and a number of other clips to connect the library community.

  2. I agree with the issues of the amount of time and money required to keep up with the multitude of different tools. I also think libraries could be more productive if they could measure the usage of tools. This would let libraries know which ones are worth keeping, adding, or deleting.