I believe in the power of the people. Not in a political way, because I’m not after your vote for anything. But in a social way that is changing how we find information and how marketers communicate with their customers. Technology is an enabler, but the real shift is in people collaborating and sharing an authentic voice. It is why I have written about human filtered search in the past instead of algorithms. It is also why I am writing a book dedicated to exploring the idea of injecting more personality into marketing. People are the central factor driving anything that is 1.0 to 2.0. The idea that people are steadily adding to the collective knowledge and structure of the Internet,though, is not new. Mahalo and StumbleUpon are two sites that are already reinventing how search works by using the collective power of people to refine results. This is social search, and it is changing how we get better information … but it is only the beginning of the solution to make information more accessible. There is a pool of professionals who are watching and contributing to these efforts and focusing not just on how we organize the world’s content … but also how to bring it to local communities and real people around the world.
That group is part of a phenomenon increasingly known as Library 2.0 and the spokespeople of this revolution are the new generation of Librarians who are blogging, contributing to wikis, using social media to locate and organize information and along the way, reinventing a profession that is likely to be one of the most important careers of the future. Techies and geeks are not just finding their homes in startups from the valley working on the next social network or broadband-streaming-TV-over-the-Internet solutions. They are also landing into roles like "Digital Branch & Services Manager" at libraries and finding ways to bring information to more people more easily. The timing is perfect, as the necessity for these librarians is becoming more and more pronounced because of the evolution of information online. Here’s a quick run down of why I believe in the idea of Library 2.0:
- Everyone is a content creator and creating content is easier than ever.
- A new wealth of content online means finding things is more difficult.
- Algorithms and automated methods of search are no longer adequate.
- People are relying on each other to catalogue information and make search better.
- The professionals dedicating to indexing content, trying new search tools and generally helping connect people to information are the librarians.
So for all those techies considering a new job that doesn’t involve working on the next MySpace killer, you might just want to check out a career as a next generation librarian. The ALA has a great set of resources to get started, or you could just take this easy quiz to find out whether you are geeky enough to be a librarian. May the force be with you.
A Few Library Blogs to Start Reading:
- Uncontrolled Vocabulary – A live discussion of library and trends with a recently started podcast
- David Lee King – A forward looking librarian blog with lots of good suggestions for using social media tools and thoughts on the future of libraries.
- Information Wants To Be Free – A highly influential blog from Meredith Farkas, author of "Social Software in Libraries"
- ALA TechSource Blog – Official tech blog of the American Library Association
- Tame the Web: Libraries and Technology – Personal blog of Michael Stephens, a respected speaker and librarian
- Library Web Chic – Dedicated to web design and technology for libraries
- Beyond the Job – A library career blog http://librarycareers.blogspot.com/index.html
- Library Journal Blogs – A collection of great blogs from the "oldest and most respected publication covering the library field"
- The Krafty Librarian – Interesting blog from a librarian navigating the tricky world of healthcare information
- Librarian.net – One of the most favourited library blog on del.icio.us and one all the other library bloggers seem to be reading
- A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette – A tongue in cheek blog full of inside jokes about the library workplace
- The Shifted Librarian – A blog dedicated to helping librarians make their libraries more portable and become "shifted"
This list is VERY incomplete, so if you have others that you think are great representations of the ideal of the Library 2.0 … please leave a comment or send me an email at rohitaustralia [at] gmail [dot] com.
NOTE: Since I started putting this entry together, the NY Times published an article on this new breed of librarians called "A Hipper Crowd of Shushers" … so far most librarians are unimpressed with the stereotypes the article seems to carry forward.
Update: See below for a brilliant video of the Librarian 2.0 Manifesto …