A lot of the readings this week focused on what web 2.0 is and how libraries can use these tools to supplement their traditional services. While I agree that providing relevant services and improving those are all well and good, I was disappointed by the constant spirit of optimism in the readings. It seemed to me to be all about, “look at these great new ways we can reach our users” without ever really stopping to fully examine what their implementation really means.
Carson attempted to provide some warnings regarding how web 2.0 may leave libraries open to proprietary rights, privacy concerns, and defamation issues. My criticism is that the best advice he gave was that these are some issues you may encounter and all you need are “proper policies” in place to avoid legal actions. This is highly problematic since social media changes so quickly. How can a librarian know of every issue when the issue doesn’t even exist yet? A question we should be asking as well is if spending money and time on developing these policies is a valuable use of the library’s resources. Should we invest in a MySpace policy when no one uses it anymore? This is especially true for public libraries where it can be construed as a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. Could the money have been better spent on collection development or improving the library as place?
The Maness article imparted the message that the library must “keep up with the times” and thus should be a vanguard of 2.0 software. With web 2.0 constantly changing and the fact that libraries typically have limited budgets, the cost associated with implementing these tools may be prohibitive. Organizations tend to move and change slowly. Does this pace preclude libraries from using web 2.0 with any real effect? There is also the labour issue involved: do new positions get created to be the social media experts or do the new duties change job descriptions? This could be a major issue since most libraries are unionized and changes to the collective agreement could hamper implementation.
So even though Dylan said “the times they are a-changin'”, the real question here is how can the library keep up with these constantly changing times? Can the expense involved with library 2.0 even be justified?