Some cunning person with great PR skills thought up the name “Library 2.0” to bring librarians’ attention to all the new tools associated with the Web. Librarians have long followed the basic principles behind Library 2.0 – sharing, collaboration and community involvement. Union catalogues, recommended author lists, interlibrary loan, book circles, children’s hour and cooperative archives are just a few of the ways in which libraries have long supported those principles.

Of course, the thing about Library 2.0 is that the focus is now on Webbish ways of sharing, collaborating and involving the community. Which doesn’t mean that the old is no longer relevant, but there are more tools and more ways to involve more people in more cooperative efforts.

Some Library 2.0 tools do indeed enhance the basic library functions of storing, retrieving and disseminating information. Immediately jumping to mind are tagging, rating and reviewing tools. A little more thought yields outreach tools like blogs and wikis. But there are a few so-called Library 2.0 tools that really make me cringe – MySpace, Second Life, gaming and even FaceBook, despite the fact that I was reasonably positive about it the other day. Libraries don’t have to be all things to all people. We don’t have to be in every part of our clients’ lives. We don’t have to play games to prove we’re professionals, nor do we have to dumb ourselves down to the lowest common denominator, as some of those tools imply, and as even some of the librarians I highly respect imply.

We need to choose our Library 2.0 tools carefully and not just jump on the latest bandwagon. We could well end up with mud on our face if we don’t carefully consider the benefits and possible costs of specific tools.

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