How are public libraries engaging with Library 2.0 RESULTS (at last)

Well thank you for your patience. I have finally chopped up bits of my dissertation into pdfs in what I hope will be a useful way. I’ll just put some of the abstract into the body of this post to give a flavour for readers to decide if they’d like to read further. I’m going to email this portion of the research to all those survey respondents who indicated an interest  in learning more and point them here to get more info.

Abstract

Background.

There has been much debate on whether or not Web 2.0 applications have a role to play in the modern library and to what extent. In this context so-called social networking applications are referred to as Library 2.0 and they have divided opinion throughout the profession as to their applicability and worth within public libraries. A few interested parties have conducted their own research into this area but there are very few peer-reviewed studies as yet. Preliminary research suggested UK public libraries are not engaging with Library 2.0.

Aims.

This research aimed to discover the level of engagement of UK public libraries with Library 2.0.  Blogging was the application that was studied in order to narrow the focus of the research to a scope that was achievable given the time constraints, thus as many UK public library blogs as possible were sought. Further to this, this research aimed to discover the attitudes and behaviours of public librarians towards the use of Library 2.0 in their libraries.

Methods.

A literature review was conducted relating to the uptake of Library 2.0 in public libraries, including finding examples of uptake, attitudes and behaviours towards Library 2.0 and other related general research.UK public library blogs were sought and content analysis performed on them to investigate their purpose and success. Finally a survey was devised and sent to all the UK public library authorities as well as many other recipients in the public library sector.

Results.

The literature suggested that public libraries are lagging behind other sectors in engagement with Library 2.0, and blogging specifically; very few peer-reviewed studies have been conducted to date. There is a move towards deriving and utilising standardised methods for blog evaluation to determine success. Twenty UK public library blogs were found, 13 still active, 6 inactive and 1 defunct. 498 people responded to the survey and a wide range of attitudes and behaviours were discovered.

Conclusions.

This study has identified early adopters of blogging in UK public libraries. In taking blogs as a microcosm of the wider Library 2.0 milieu this study has identified several emerging trends that may warrant further study regarding the lack of uptake of Library 2.0; these include technological barriers presented by IT departments and wider organisational culture; apathy of library staff, lack of engagement; a feeling that social networking has no relevance to what a library should be doing; a lack of time to devote to content creation; and use of other methods of communication deemed more appropriate.

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5 thoughts on “How are public libraries engaging with Library 2.0 RESULTS (at last)

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  1. I think I speak on behalf of most public library services when I say there is active resistance from our organisations to the concept of a blog. Surrey County Council has a very successful website, and a blog – or any other social media – is seen as direct competition, rather like setting up an external microsite. There’s also an organisational lack of understanding of blogs and Web 2.0 generally – for example, our Chief Executive “blogs” but in reality he’s writing content for a web page on our website, meaning that about three people have to edit it for him, he can’t embed rich media, and the ability to interact with him or his content is extremely limited.

    I think it might be a good idea if I say that these are my opinions and obviously not those of my employer!

    1. That’s very interesting to hear and tallies closely with the experiences of many of the people who responded to my survey. I think having a good website is absolutely vital, and many public libraries don’t even have that, but the ability to get stuff up on the web quickly and without going through several layers of bureaucracy seems to me to be the way to keep in touch with service users etc etc but I’m sure I’m singing to the choir here! There are so many good examples of successful use of Web 2.0 that maybe one day some of it will sink in. I’ll be keeping my eyes open and flagging up any new stuff I find. Cheers for your interest; I’d be interested to know what some of those at the top who are resistant would make of my work but I don’t suppose it’ll get that far. Time will tell which way things will go I suppose.

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